All Draft Selections Should ReOn Time, Dungy Says
INDIANAPOLIS – Considering the circumstances, Tony Dungy said it's key all rookies be in 2008 Training Camp on time.
Not that he expects it to be a problem.
Dungy, entering his seventh season as the Colts' head coach, met with reporters on Tuesday afternoon to discuss 2008 Training Camp, which will open on Thursday at the Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology in Terre Haute, Ind.
As of Tuesday, wide receiver Pierre Garcon – a wide receiver from Mount Union (Ohio) College – was the lone member of the Colts' 2008 NFL Draft class to have signed, leaving eight draftees unsigned.
Dungy said he expects that to change quickly.
"There's no reason to think any of our guys won't be on time," Dungy said Tuesday, two days before the Colts will report for their 10th camp at Rose-Hulman. "From talking to (Colts President) Bill (Polian), I would think we'll have everybody here. We certainly are planning on having everybody here Thursday.
"It's like that term paper you have to write. You know you had all semester, but it's hard to start working on it until there's a week left.
"Deadlines make us all a little more productive."
The Colts, who open preseason in the NFL's Hall of Fame Game against the Washington Redskins in Canton, Ohio, on Sunday, August 3, could enter camp with six players – quarterback Peyton Manning, offensive guard Ryan Lilja, rookie tight end Tom Santi, defensive end Dwight Freeney, safety Bob Sanders and linebacker Tyjuan Hagler – on the Physically Unable to Perform list.
The participation in the Hall of Fame Game, along with the six possible PUP players and a new league rule restricting teams to 80 players in camp, makes the rookies' presence in the coming days important, Dungy said.
Manning, who underwent surgery on a bursa sac in his left knee last week, "is doing fine," Dungy said, adding that he is optimistic the eight-time Pro Bowl selection will return before the team's regular-season opener against the Chicago Bears on September 7.
In a statement last week, Colts President Bill Polian called the procedure routine and said the team's medical staff "expects a full and complete return to action in four-to-six weeks."
"I have talked to Peyton," Dungy said. "We're just following the doctor's instructions right now. He's doing fine. There's nothing we can do except wait it out at this point. Mentally, he's doing fine. We're ready to roll."
Of when he expects Manning might return, Dungy added, "They told us four to six weeks. I'm always the optimistic one, looking at the glass half full. I'm expecting him back in four, but planning for six. We'll go from there. If he's truly out six weeks, it will be hard for him.
"He doesn't like to stay inactive that long, but however it goes, he'll be ready when he gets back."
Santi, like Garcon one of the Colts' four sixth-round draft selections, underwent a similar procedure, Dungy said.
"His didn't get quite the national attention Peyton had," Dungy said, smiling.
Manning, who never has missed an NFL start, has missed just one snap in 10 professional seasons because of injury.
"An ideal option would be (Manning) getting a couple of weeks (of camp) in, but if that's not able to happen, I think we'll still be fine and still be able to function," Dungy said. "A lot of times with your veteran players, they don't need as much as a younger guy would."
Dungy said he expects Manning, Lilja, Santi, Freeney and Sanders to be back "at some point during training camp" and to "hopefully . . . be ready for opening day." Of the players on PUP, Dungy said he believed only Hagler to be a long-term situation.
"They will start out on PUP and as they get through the conditioning phases of it and the rehab phase and go through where they need to be, at some point, they'll get activated," Dungy said. "I don't know how quickly it will be.
Of Freeney and Sanders, Dungy said, "Both of those guys seem to feel it (their return) will be pretty quick, but we'll see."
Also, Dungy said he expected wide receiver Marvin Harrison to be ready to practice Friday. Harrison, a Pro Bowl selection from 1999-2006, missed 11 regular-season games last season with a knee injury and did not participate in this past spring's minicamp or summer school sessions.
"As we speak, the last I've heard from our doctors meeting was that Marvin would be ready to go when we get there," Dungy said. "He has been running and feeling good. Everybody, including Marvin, is really enthusiastic and optimistic about how that has gone."
PRACTICE PLANNED: The Colts will practice in Lucas Oil Stadium before playing their first preseason game there, Dungy said.
The Colts, who will play their first three preseason games on the road, are scheduled to play their first game in the new, state-of-the-art, retractable-roof facility against the Buffalo Bills on Sunday, August 24. The Colts played in the RCA Dome the past 24 seasons.
"We're going to get down there once the week of the Buffalo game, have a practice down there and actually get on the field," Dungy said.
Dungy said the team likely will practice at Lucas Oil Stadium on the Tuesday or Friday before the Buffalo game.