Colts Offensive Lineman Tony Ugoh Taking Relaxed Attitude Towards 2010 Training Camp
ANDERSON, Ind. – He's relaxed and he's happy.
And for Colts offensive lineman Tony Ugoh, that's not only an imant thing, it's a new thing. He said it's one other thing, too:
A very, very good thing.
Ugoh, entering his fourth season with the Colts, is working at a new position in 2010 Training Camp, playing extensively at offensive guard for the first time in a career in which he has played mostly left offensive tackle. He said he very much wants to play as much as possible and do as well as he can.
But mostly, Ugoh said, he is focused on staying relaxed and focused.
Because if he does that, he said good things will follow.
"I'm out here trying to have fun," Ugoh said Wednesday between a pair of practices at 2010 Colts Training Camp, which is being held through mid-August at Anderson University.
"I think coming into it I put a lot of pressure on myself, really. I think I was really forgetting that this is a game and at the end of the day, you've got to come out here and have fun. If I give it all I have, at the end of the day, that's all I can do.
"I just have to come out here and work hard."
Colts Head Coach Jim Caldwell said the improvement from Ugoh began well before the last three days of training camp. Ugoh, Caldwell said, is a valuable player on the Colts' line who gives the team options and versatility.
"He's coming along," Caldwell said. "Obviously if you go back to the end of last year, he was really making strides – then this spring as well. He's a really flexible guy in terms of his ability to play both guard and tackle. We're really trying to find a home for him in terms of where he's going to fit in in the grand scheme of things."
Ugoh, a second-round selection in the 2007 NFL Draft from Arkansas, started at left tackle as a rookie and again in 2008, but played mostly as a reserve at tackle last season, with veteran Charlie Johnson moving into the tackle role. He moved to guard this off-season, and said several months ago his idea entering this season wasn't as much to start at a certain position, but to contribute wherever possible.
The transition to guard from tackle, he said, is an adjustment, but said he is adapting to it better with each practice.
"I've got a pretty good feel for it," Ugoh said. "I'm getting better. It's something that's new for me, so I'm still learning each and every day."
Ugoh said the difference between tackle and guard is fairly simple. Whereas assignments at tackle on the outside of the line are relatively straightforward, playing the interior is more complex.
"There's a lot more going on," he said. "When you're on the edge, you really don't have but a couple of things to worry about. In the middle, there's so much going on from both directions. I would say that's going to be the biggest challenge.
"They're two different positions. At guard, things happen quicker. At tackle, things kind of take their time."
The Colts during the off-season underwent changes on the offensive line. Not only do Caldwell and Colts President Bill Polian expect the line to be a competitive situation, particularly at offensive guard, but longtime offensive line coach Howard Mudd retired after Super Bowl XLIV.
"I think the competition is pretty keen, but I think he's up to it," Caldwell said of Ugoh. "He's starting to move along and play as well as he's capable."
Pete Metzelaars, the Colts' assistant line coach since 2004, is now the offensive line coach, with Ron Prince – formerly the head coach at Kansas State – assisting the unit.
"Pete is working with me a lot and Ron's working with me a lot to get me ready," Ugoh said. "I'm just getting things from a different perspective and a different point of view."
Mostly, Ugoh said this training camp isn't about coaches, or even about positions, as much as it is about how he is approaching game. He said he is trying to think about the right things, and focus on what he has a chance to control. The idea, he said, is to enjoy football, play his best and see the results at the end of camp.
"I just come out here, play wherever they want me to play and have fun," Ugoh said. "I just want to do the best I can. . . . I'm just coming in here not trying to put a lot of pressure on myself and trying to have fun. I'm still working hard, but not really stressing myself about the day-to-day outcome. I'm out here having fun, giving it my all.
"At the end of the day, there's nothing else I can do."