Sorgi Feeling Experienced Entering Fifth Season as Colts Backup Quarterback
INDIANAPOLIS – When it comes to feeling old – older, anyway – Jim Sorgi doesn't mind.
Actually, he has waited for the feeling for a while.
Sorgi, the Colts' backup quarterback the past four seasons, is entering his fifth NFL season in the same position. He is No. 2 on the depth chart behind a player who not only is one of the league's best at his position, but one of the most durable.
Peyton Manning twice has been the NFL's Most Valuable Player. He has been to eight Pro Bowls. He has led the Colts to a Super Bowl title.
In so doing, he never has missed a start.
For Sorgi, that has meant comparatively little significant regular-season playing time, but he said recently he has played enough – and studied enough – to feel like an experienced player and yes, at times, even like an old player.
And he said that's OK.
"You kind of seem like the old guy out there throwing with some of the younger receivers," Sorgi said during the Colts' "organized team activities" – 14 days of on-field work that will continue through mid-June at the team's training facility.
"It's pretty cool."
Sorgi, a sixth-round selection in the 2004 NFL Draft from the University of Wisconsin, in four seasons has played in 14 games, appearances that often have come with the Colts well ahead. Four of the appearances – one as a rookie, two in 2005 and one last season – have been ones in which he played extensively in late-season games after the Colts had clinched their playoff seeding.
"It's really a tough position," Colts Head Coach Tony Dungy said. "The times he has played, he played in the preseason and he hasn't played with our first group very much. Even late in the year, when he has played in the regular-season games, we haven't had the whole first group in with him."
Dungy cited a game from Sorgi's rookie season, the season-finale against Denver, as an example. In that game, Sorgi replaced Manning after a series, completing 16 of 25 passes for 168 yards and a touchdown.
"He got to play with the first group and took us down to two touchdowns with (starting wide receivers) Marvin (Harrison) and Reggie (Wayne) and that group," Dungy said. "He had us in great shape out in Denver in the first half of the game (a 33-14 Colts loss).
"We substituted in the second half, but I feel like if he played with our first group he'd do a very good job. We have a lot of confidence in Jim."
The backup quarterback position, Sorgi said, is "kind of a double-edge sword." Asked if he wishes he had more time with the starting unit, he smiled.
"If I say yes, it's saying you want something bad to happen to Peyton," he said. "That would be the only time I'd really work with the ones. If you're beating somebody pretty good, you're probably going to take most of your starters out and put the backups in. If the game really doesn't mean anything, then you're probably going to not leave the starters in.
"You look at it like, 'Yeah, I would love to work with the ones more, but I don't want it to be under the circumstances that it would probably have to be under.' "
In four seasons, has completed 77 of 126 passes for 751 yards and six touchdowns with one interception while playing 14 games. He completed 18 of 36 passes for 132 yards and a touchdown with no interceptions this past season.
In lieu of extensive experience with the starters, Sorgi said he substitutes faith in the ability of a starting unit that has ranked in the Top 10 in the NFL in total offense each of the past nine seasons.
"You have to have confidence in those guys," he said. "Those guys do it day in, day out, week in and week out. If that situation arises, you know they're going to do whatever they can to help you along and do your best for you.
"You just have to go along and do your best and help them help you do your 1/11th of the job you have to do and it should work out."
Each season, Sorgi said he has gained confidence, and after four seasons, he said he has a firmer grasp of the offense than in any of his previous seasons.
"I've been around a long time now," Sorgi said. "I'm going into my fifth year and it's a good feeling that I've hung on this long just to be in this position. I feel good with how the off-season's going and I think we're going to have a heck of a team next year.
"This year in particular, going out there and knowing exactly what everybody's supposed to do –just being on top of it and not missing a beat, and being able to be in on conversations about certain things – it's just a fun way to have it, especially at this age."
Sorgi, who will turn 28 in December, said despite a growing comfort in the offense and growing confidence in his ability it's difficult at times to remember he's one of the more-experienced players in the locker room.
"I was sitting there the other night and kind of looking back on the events of life – events that have led me here to this, being drafted by Indy and being here five years, and being married and about to have my second child . . . you just think how things happen along the way," Sorgi said. "You look back, and four or five years ago, I'm still in college . . .
"It's amazing how things kind of evolve."
Now, Sorgi's career has evolved enough to have more confidence than he did early in his career, to feel a bit older than the younger receivers, and to have something of a comfort level in the team's offense. And yes, he said, that's pretty cool.
"You're always pretty confident going into each year," Sorgi said. "It's nice having Coach Dungy back and (Associate Head) Coach (Jim) Caldwell back as the quarterbacks coach and Peyton there, because there's a sense of security: everything's the same and everything's the way it's going to be. That's not a bad thing, considering the teams we've had the past four years.
"You always feel confident going into every year. You try to learn a little more, a little more, a little more every year, and to evolve in the offense to where you know everything.
"I'm still a ways from that, but I can go out there and certainly play football."
11th NFL season
Acquired: First round, 1998 (No. 1 overall)
A two-time NFL Most Valuable Player, and the MVP of Super Bowl XLI, he has made the Pro Bowl in eight of his first 10 NFL seasons. . . . He has started 160 of a possible 160 games in 10 NFL seasons, the most consecutive starts at the start of a career for a quarterback in NFL history. . . . He has completed 3,468 of 5,405 passes for 41,626 yards and 306 touchdowns with 153 interceptions for a career rating of 94.7. . . . He set NFL records with 49 touchdown passes and a 121.1 passer rating in 2004. . . . He completed 337 of 515 passes for 4,040 yards and 31 touchdowns with 14 interceptions for a 98.0 passer rating last season . . . He has a 105-55 record as a starter.
Fifth NFL season
Acquired: Sixth round, 2004
He played in four games last season, completing 18 of 36 passes for 132 yards and a touchdown for a 68.3 passer rating. . . . He played in five games in 2005, completing 59 of 90 passes for 444 yards and three touchdowns. . . . In four seasons, he has played in 14 games in relief of starter Peyton Manning, completing 77 of 126 passes for 751 yards and six touchdowns with one interception for a passer rating of 90.4. . .