Colts Reto 2010 Training Camp in Anderson, Ind.
ANDERSON – The surroundings are new, but the idea is the same.
As far as Peyton Manning sees it, no matter the venue and no matter the changes, when he and the rest of the Colts report to training camp, the story remains the same.
The off-season is over. The golf clubs are put away.
It's time to do one thing.
That one thing is to get to work.
"I always look forward to starting training camp," Manning, who is entering his 13th season as the Colts' quarterback, said Sunday morning as the Colts reported for 2010 Training Camp at Anderson University in Anderson, Ind.
"I'm excited about this team and its potential."
The Colts after training in Anderson in Manning's rookie season, 1998, had trained at the Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology in Terre Haute, Ind., every season since. And while there was talk as the Colts reported Sunday of the new venue, and of the revamped facilities and welcoming nature of the school and the city, most talk focused on football.
The Colts, a playoff team in 10 of the last 11 seasons and each of the last eight, made the Super Bowl for the second time in four years in 2009.
That season, Colts Head Coach Jim Caldwell said, is very much over.
And what matters is now.
"I think that all of you who have been around our team recognize that even after a big win you really can't tell by the temperament if they've won or lost," said Colts Head Coach Jim Caldwell, entering his second season as the Colts' head coach after seven seasons as an assistant.
"After a tough loss it's a tough issue, and our guys have been able to separate those things and focus on the task at hand. You'll see the same kind of approach this preseason."
Eight of the last 11 teams who have finished as the Super Bowl runner-up have missed the following post-season, but neither Manning nor Caldwell said such history has anything to do with the present.
The Colts have won six of the past seven AFC South titles, and have been one of the NFL's most-consistent, most-successful franchises for the last decade. Manning said that record has been built on a work ethic and focus that needn't change.
Manning also said several off-season changes – the ascension of Clyde Christensen from wide receivers coach to offensive coordinator and the ascension of Pete Metzelaars from assistant offensive line coach to offensive line coach among them – should have the Colts focused.
"All I know is this team has had a good off-season," Manning said. "We've had outstanding attendance and good, productive work on the field. I think the fact that we've had some change – that's provided some newness and freshness to it. That's kind of kept guys engaged. That's all we know to do, is to go back and work hard again. We're going to work hard, because we've always worked hard. Sometimes you say, 'Work harder,' that means you didn't work hard enough. We're going to keep working very hard and hopefully we can take it one step further yet. . . .
"One thing we've always done in the past, whether finishing on top or finishing short, is to put the season behind us. I think our players have been able to do that. I think that's important."
Said Caldwell, "I do believe our team has played consistently well because of the way we go about things. Everyone doesn't go about things the same way we do, and I think that's the uniqueness about our football team."
Manning said he spoke to his father, former NFL quarterback Archie Manning, on the drive to Anderson Sunday, and also spoke to several teammates.
"I'm excited," Manning said. "I talked to a few of the players. They're all excited. We're looking forward to going to work. I know our team's excited about being here, and we expect to have a great training camp.
"Training camp is extremely important to getting us started out for the season on the right foot, and the right note. It's football, football, football mentally and physically.
"I'm sure it will be great. We're excited to be here."
Manning, who arrived early Sunday morning, long has talked about enjoying training camp. He said as has been the case the past several seasons, much of his focus in this year's camp will involve working to acclimate rookies and other young players.
"My focus is to get better – to get better as a player, to do whatever I can and to help our team, to get my timing down with any of our new players – whether it's (tight end) Brody Eldridge or (rookie) Brandon James or to get on the same page with some of our new linemen," Manning said. "Then, to try to improve my skills – that's what training camp is all about, trying to get better.
"I always focus on getting little bit better at something each day. That's where I am."
And while the Colts, as a team that has been a perennial post-season participant in recent seasons, are picked by some observers to again be playoff contenders, Manning said the reality is such projections mean nothing.
"I guess that means we have some good players in certain spots," Manning said. "I don't think any of our players put a lot of weight into that, a lot of stock into that. Our players are determined to work hard and know that we have to go out there and earn it on the field. Just because somebody says you have a good team, unless you go out there and do it, it just doesn't back it up.
"I think we have enough veteran players to make the rookies understand, 'This is a time to work, not a time to talk.' That's what we're here to do. Our rookies have caught on in a short period of time that to be a good team you have to have an outstanding work ethic.
"I think we'll continue that through training camp and through the fall."