Caldwell, Manning Say Focus Not Yet On Preseason Opener
ANDERSON, Ind. – The time is not yet now for preparation.
Peyton Manning, entering his 13th season as the Colts' quarterback, therefore is entering his 13th NFL preseason in the same capacity. As such, he has plenty of experience in preseason and training camp situations, and on Tuesday, he offered advice for the young players on the Colts' roster.
Yes, he said, there's a game Sunday.
And yes, there will be nerves, jitters and excitement.
But Manning said while all that's true, there's something more imant about the game, and that's that it's not until Sunday, which means it's important for now to focus on training camp.
And that means it's time to keep working.
"We haven't really talked about the pre-season game, to tell you the truth, as far as playing time," Manning said Tuesday between a pair of training camp practices at Anderson University.
"This week is focused on trying to get the Colts better. We're not game-planning by any means for a specific team. We're just kind of working on ourselves."
The Colts, who finished 14-2 last season before advancing to the Super Bowl for the second time in four seasons, will play host to the San Francisco 49ers in the preseason opener for both teams. The game will be held at Lucas Oil Stadium Sunday at 1 p.m.
Colts Head Coach Jim Caldwell said he offered the same message to young players this week:
Keep working and the game will arrive soon enough.
"We don't focus on the opponent (in pre-season) until later on in the week," Caldwell said. "One of the things I told them at the beginning of the week was to just continue to work on ourselves and improve every single day."
Manning said while the preseason is important, what's more important for the Colts is to continue focusing on training camp, which means to focus on fundamentals and on improving rather than early-week game-planning for the opponent.
"We're still going Colts against Colts during practice and still working on certain parts of our offense," Manning said. "We keep a point of emphasis each day to emphasize the goal line, the red zone, so we're still doing that. As far as preseason games, I really haven't gotten to thinking about that.
"However long we're in there, you want to go in there and try to execute."
Manning on Tuesday also addressed an ongoing storyline of 2010 Training Camp – the team's depth at the wide receiver position.
The return of four-year veteran wide receiver Anthony Gonzalez from an injury that limited him to one game last season has given the Colts depth at the spot, with four-time Pro Bowl selection Reggie Wayne, second-year veteran Austin Collie and third-year veteran Pierre Garcon playing key roles last season.
"It's still been just one week," Manning said. "There is still a lot of work for those guys to do. Obviously with four preseason games it's a good opportunity for those guys to show what they can do. You always want to see what a guy can do on the practice field as well as on the game field."
And while some observers and analysts have wondered how the Colts will best utilize four receivers, Manning said there's little reason the team won't need all four to play well.
"The seasons I've played you're always going to need a multitude of receivers – probably more than four, to tell the truth," Manning said. "With injuries and a 16-game season, you get a guy nicked, we expect whoever's in there to pick up the slack, not to miss a beat. We're not going to call certain plays or take away certain players just because a guy may be injured.
"Everybody who's on the team, it's their responsibility to know the plays and know the assignments. The more flexibility and versatility you have at that aposition, guys who can rotate and guys who can play slot and outside and inside, it definitely gives you more weapons, if you will.
"The depth at that receiver position is extremely important."
Manning on Tuesday also addressed:
*Second-year running back Donald Brown: "I think Donald will be a year better because of the experience. He got a lot of experience last year. He got into the game in a lot of crucial situations – third downs and red zone, goal-line areas. He made some big plays and showed the flashes of what he was able to do in college. We expect him to be a huge contributor this year. He and (starting running back) Joseph (Addai) both, whenever they're in there, we're running the same plays. Addai has proven himself to be a fine receiver out of the backfield and we expect Donald to be that same contributor in the passing game. You can't call certain plays or not be able to call certain plays because the guy's in there. We expect Donald to be able to do the same things in the passing game Addai did. He's very bright. He knows his protections and he's hungry to come out here and have a good year."
*Wayne: "Reggie came in with a great attitude and in excellent shape. He looks really fit. He's always trained extremely hard. All those Miami Hurricanes through the years have always trained hard. He's still the leader or our wide receiver group. He's still the guy who sets the tone for Pierre and Austin and Gonzalez. He's a great leader at that position, and he's going to have an outstanding year for us this year. There's no doubt in my mind."