Manning Discusses Colts 2009 Organized Team Activities
INDIANAPOLIS – The personnel has changed, but for Peyton Manning the routine remains the same.
It remains imant, too.
Manning, a nine-time Pro Bowl quarterback entering his 12th season as the Colts' starter, said while key personnel – including a likely Hall of Fame receiver – has changed in the offseason, the offseason is still critically important for him and the Colts.
And so is his offseason routine.
That entails working with young Colts skill position players, a tradition Manning said has continued during the team's ongoing 2009 organized team activities.
"This morning at 8 o'clock I threw with Donald Brown and Austin Collie," Manning said Tuesday morning during his first meeting with the media during the OTAs.
"I try to take two guys a day and have an individual session with them. Just take three or four routes and try to master those routes. Instead of throwing one repetition of each route, we try to master three or four of the most basic routes.
"That's what Marvin and Reggie and I did for so many years and (I'm) trying to do that with these young guys."
Manning, who played with eight-time Pro Bowl wide receiver Marvin Harrison for the first 11 seasons of his career, spoke on Tuesday of the impact of the departure of Harrison, who was released in late February.
Harrison and Manning hold NFL records for completions, yardage and touchdowns by a quarterback-receiver tandem.
"There's no question you do notice that certain guys aren't here," Manning said. "Two weeks ago we had our big fund-raiser for St. Vincent's Children Hospital and we had kind of a VIP reception in the locker room. We had the locker room dressed up like it would be on game day. Everybody's nameplates, everybody's uniform and jerseys in there. It was really a neat thing for fans that don't get to see that. What hit me hard is I got there first and saw the lockers and saw Reggie Wayne's locker and saw that blank locker right there next to it, which of course is No. 88, Marvin Harrison.
"That kind of hit me and those things will happen along the way that will remind you of the way things used to be. I don't know if you ever get over it or ever get used to it, but you do have to adjust."
With Harrison not on the roster, Manning said the Colts' younger receivers such as third-year veteran Anthony Gonzalez, second-year veteran Pierre Garcon and Collie will have to play an increased role.
"Without Marvin here it's going to be a big adjustment," Manning said. "Whether it's Tony Gonzalez or Pierre Garcon or Austin Collie, those guys have to step up. There's some open positions out there."
Manning also said the Colts' early-season schedule, which features road games at Miami and Arizona, makes this offseason particularly important.
"I really feel that you kind of form the identity of your team during this time and build team chemistry and get in shape for the upcoming season," Manning said. "We'd better be in good shape the way this season is starting. Jacksonville here at home and then down to Miami – will be pretty warm down there, then out to the Arizona heat."
In other Colts news:
• Tight end Dallas Clark said he's not sure how the role of the tight-end position will change with the departure of Harrison. "Time will tell," Clark said. "I have no idea how that's going to work out. You don't replace him, so people's responsibilities and duties are going to change somehow. How that is, I don't know. (Third-year WR Anthony Gonzalez) Gonzo might step in. I don't know what move is going to be made, but if he's the guy over there, he'll step in and do a great job and we might not miss a beat. Time will tell. If that calls for the tight ends getting more catches, more balls thrown to them, we're excited about that. We're just there to be used however they want us to be used."
• The Colts' third OTA session Tuesday was what Caldwell said the team refers to as a "coaching session." The team has seven OTAs remaining as well as a June 5-7 mini-camp. "We have an opportunity to do obviously some strength and conditioning work kind of wrapped around also some individual technique work," Caldwell said. "That was the focus of it. We have different portions where we have some of the veterans involved in it, and a lot of the other guys in other aspects."