Dungy Likes What He Sees After Two Days of 2008 Rookie/Veteran Minicamp
INDIANAPOLIS – So far, Tony Dungy likes what he sees.
The Colts have held two days of their 2008 rookie/veteran minicamp and Dungy – entering his seventh season as the Colts' head coach – said he didn't particularly care much about evaluating the 2008 rookie class.
Rather, he wanted to get the rookies further acclimated to how the team works.
And he wanted to get some solid work.
Mission accomplished, Dungy said Saturday afternoon.
"The rain held off for us, so we're excited about that," Dungy said Saturday on the second day of the Colts' three-day rookie veteran minicamp, which will conclude Sunday afternoon at the team's practice facility.
"We're on our second day of work. I thought our young guys this morning had a little bit better idea of how we do things. Our tempo was better. We're off to a good start."
The Colts in early May held a three-day rookie camp, but this weekend is the first time veterans have worked with the nine rookies and 13 free agents that make up the 2008 rookie class.
Seven players were present at minicamp, and didn't practice:
Cornerback T.J. Rushing, cornerback Michael Coe, safety Bob Sanders, linebacker Gary Brackett, wide receiver Marvin Harrison, offensive guard Ryan Lilja and offensive lineman Tala Esera.
"Just resting up injuries and guys not medically cleared, whether they weren't able to condition enough, whether it was surgeries," Dungy said Saturday. "We have a few different things.
"Not exactly sure with Gary, what program he's on, but nothing serious I don't think."
Dungy said far more imant this weekend than the medical status of the abovementioned veterans is the progress made of the players on the field and in the classroom.
"I like where we are in terms of our veteran guys really coming in excited and energized and demonstrating, very well I think, how we do things," Dungy said. "I like our chemistry right now and our work ethic.
"All in all, I think we're in pretty good shape."
STEPPING UP: One area from which Dungy said he typically looks for improvement during this time of the offseason is that of the second-year veteran players.
He often has said the biggest jump an NFL player makes is from his rookie season to his second season, and Dungy said that improvement has been evident this weekend.
"If you watch out there the last couple of days – (wide receiver) Anthony (Gonzalez), (wide receiver) Roy (Hall), (linebacker) Clint Session, (defensive end) Ramon Guzman – guys who have been with us . . . Dante Hughes," Dungy said. "You see the confidence and them practicing a little bit more comfortably than last year.
"Hopefully, that will continue and they will come on. We're counting on that."
WHEREVER THEY FIT: The Colts selected three offensive linemen in the recent NFL Draft, and Dungy said that's how they should be considered:
As offensive linemen – not necessarily as their listed college position of center.
The Colts selected Arizona State center Mike Pollak in the second round and Wake Forest center Steve Justice in the sixth round. They then selected Jamey Richard, also selected as a center, from the University of Buffalo in the seventh round.
In this case, Dungy said the college position may not translate to the NFL.
"We kind of look at offensive linemen as 'outside guys' or 'inside guys,''' Dungy said. "Everybody had penciled these guys in as centers because that's what they played in college, but for us, they were 'inside players.'
"We really drafted Mike with the idea of him playing guard. I think that is what he is going to do. The others guys can also play guard, so it really wasn't directed at the center position, although I'm sure (three-time Colts Pro Bowl center) Jeff (Saturday) felt that way."
MORE ON MARVIN: Colts wide receiver Marvin Harrison remained a topic at minicamp on Saturday.
Dungy, who has coached the eight-time Pro Bowl selection in five of his Pro Bowl seasons – 2002-2006 – said he has little doubt Harrison can return to the level at which he played before sustaining a knee injury in October of last season.
As evidence, Dungy pointed to the four games Harrison played before his injury last season.
"Opening day, Marvin played great, got us off to a great start against New Orleans," Dungy said. "He was on his way to having the type of year that we expect. In the fourth game, he got hurt. But those first three games, practice-wise and in the game, he played as well as he ever has.
"When the doctors say everything should be fine, we just have to look at it that way. I think he will be back fine. That is what we are assuming right now."
Harrison, who averaged 103 receptions for 1,402 yards and 12.6 touchdowns a season from 1999-2006, caught 95 passes for 1,366 yards and 12 touchdowns in 2006. He played in five regular-season games in 2007, catching 20 passes for 247 yards and a touchdown.
NUMBERS GAME: Newly re-signed running back Dominic Rhodes said Friday he's trying to get his former number, 33, back from second-year safety Melvin Bullitt.
Dungy said Rhodes shouldn't hold his breath.
Rhodes is currently wearing 38 at the team's minicamp this weekend. He wore No. 33 from 2001-2006 before signing as a free agent with the Oakland Raiders in the 2007 offseason.
He re-signed with the Colts after the Raiders released him late last month.
"We've had some discussions about that.," Dungy said. "He (Rhodes) is in a very ugly number for a running back right now. I hope he gets it back, but I wouldn't be all that optimistic right now. I told Melvin Bullitt if I were him, I'd definitely hold out.
"It would take quite a bit to get it back, if I were him."