NO GUARANTEES

As Colts Head Coach Jim Caldwell begins preparations for the 2010 season, he said there is much about which to be optimistic for the future.

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Colts Head Coach Jim Caldwell Has Good Feeling As Preparations Begin for 2010

INDIANAPOLIS – Looking ahead, Jim Caldwell likes what he sees.

Caldwell, entering his second season as the Colts' head coach, said the time has come to move forward from Super Bowl XLIV, and because of the nature of the team and its players, that's a process he said will be productive and successful.

The Colts are experienced. They're professional. They also, Caldwell said, know what it takes to win and know that there's little to be gained from worrying about what's past.

So, Caldwell was asked Sunday, "Is he optimistic about the coming season?"

Absolutely, he said.

"No question about it," Caldwell said during the 2010 NFL Scouting Combine, which is scheduled to continue at Lucas Oil Stadium in downtown Indianapolis through Tuesday.

"We are. There are some things that we feel are good and solid and that we need to build upon. But you also can't be lulled to sleep. Because of the fact you had some success the year before does not guarantee success the next year.

"Matter of fact, the way the rules are set, everything sort of works against you not being able to repeat."

The Colts, despite those rules that encourage parity and are designed to allow less successful teams to raid the rosters of more talented ones, have remained one of the NFL's most successful teams throughout the last decade.

The Colts have made the postseason an NFL-best eight consecutive seasons, winning the AFC South in six of the past seven seasons. They have won 12 or more games for seven consecutive seasons, an NFL record, and they have played in two of the last four Super Bowls.

They have had that success despite losing players such as Mike Peterson, Jake Scott, Cato June, David Thornton, Steve McKinney and Marcus Washington to free agency, and during the decade of 2000-09, they won more games – 115 – than any team in a single decade in NFL history.

The Colts from mid-October 2008 through December 2009 won an NFL record 23 consecutive regular-season games, and much of the success has come from dedication in the off-season conditioning program, which Caldwell said will start a bit later than normal because of the team's extended post-season run.

The off-season, which began in mid-March last year, will begin this off-season in mid-April, Caldwell said.

"We've just kind of adjusted it a little bit," Caldwell said. "We have to allow some recovery for the body. There are certain guys that may have to get some sort of procedure at some point. It allows a little time for that. Since we played so late, we still have the benefit of all the games we got during that time, the running, the lifting, things of that nature. We're trying to balance all of that out.

"We try to pare it down a little bit more and take into account the wear and tear one might have during the course of a season. This all adds up, but yet we still have to get our work done. It's not a reduction in what we do in terms of the intensity level, in terms of our emphasis on making certain we understand our particular positions to ensure our bodies are in the best possible shape and that we're operating on all cylinders effectively. We're still going to put that kind of work in."

Caldwell said the Colts being a veteran team with experienced leadership should preclude any complacency approaching the off-season.

"Even though we might start a little late, the great majority of our guys are intrinsically motivated," he said. "I would not doubt that some of them have started already. That's how our team is formulated, with guys that have that kind of drive and desire. They start to come back a little earlier than we anticipate most years. They set a great standard and they don't just give it lip service. They live their lives that way.

"They understand how difficult it is. There's a lot of work that goes into it. When we come back we'd better come back and get our hard hats back on and go to work just as we normally do."

And Caldwell said while those players are talented, with seven Pro Bowl selections and four-time NFL Most Valuable Player Peyton Manning on the roster, they have had the success for more reasons than that talent.

"We do have some talent," Caldwell said. "But as I tell the guys all the time, in the book that Geoff Colvin wrote where it said, 'Talent is overrated,' the premise of the book is talent will prevail over hard work every time, if talent works hard. Even though we may have a measure of talent in some areas, we have to work extremely hard in order to get better. . . .

"What we have to do is the thing that we've always done. We just focus in on what we have to do. We're getting a little bit of a respite, recuperating and when we come back to work we're going to work."

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