With 2010 Training Camp Nearing an End, Manning Says Work Must Continue
ANDERSON, Ind. – On the calendar, the end is near.
But quarterback Peyton Manning said while 2010 Colts Training Camp officially ends Wednesday, which means leaving Anderson University after two and a half weeks and returning to Indianapolis, that doesn't actually mean the end of camp.
Manning considers the preseason a time to continue improving.
And that continues for the immediate future.
"We're still in training camp mode," Manning said Tuesday, two days before the Colts will play the Buffalo Bills in a preseason game in Toronto.
"We're still going starters against starters and trying to improve. We've had some injuries, with some young guys in there playing and a chance for them to get some reps. It's still training camp mode and there's still some work we can get better with."
Manning, a 10-time Pro Bowl selection and the Associated Press' National Football League Most Valuable Player each of the past two seasons, completed 8 of 10 passes for 91 yards and led an 89-yard touchdown drive while playing two series in a 37-17 preseason loss to San Francisco Sunday.
He covered several topics while speaking to the media after the first of two training camp practices on Tuesday, with one of the topics being second-year wide receiver Austin Collie.
Collie caught 60 passes for 676 yards and seven touchdowns last season, playing mostly in the slot as a rookie. Manning said he is working on the outside more this season, and that he appears more confident and comfortable.
"He has come in in good shape," Manning said. "He had a good off-season, and he worked hard. He was here the whole time. He is in good shape. No question a lot of guys can make big strides from their rookie year to their second year, especially the ones who got to play a lot as a rookie.
"I can speak to that personally. You feel a lot better, more confident and more comfortable in the offense. Not speaking for him, but he sure looks like he feels that way. He's playing outside some. Last year, he was primarily in the slot.
"He's a guy who's going to be on the field a lot somehow, some way."
Manning also said this training camp has presented unique challenges. With offensive linemen such as center Jeff Saturday (knee), left tackle Charlie Johnson (foot) and reserve center Jacques McClendon missing time with injuries, Manning said that has added a unique element to this year's camp.
"I think we're still in it," Manning said. "It's hard to compare it to other camps. The injury situation is present every single year, but there are a number of guys who have missed the majority of this camp. That's tough to get time in with those guys, but it's an opunity for younger guys to step in. They're going to play a pivotal role early in the season potentially, but definitely late in the season.
"Some of these young guys, young linemen, young tight ends, have gotten some work. You hope that pays off for them. You try to turn it into a positive.
"Guys have worked hard. That has been real important, and hopefully, we can keep doing that this week and really, once we get back to Indianapolis. We're not in regular season, so I still consider it training camp mode. It's football and it's time to get the Colts better.
"The more we can keep that mentality, the better off we'll be."
McClendon, a rookie fourth-round selection from the University of Tennessee, has worked with Saturday as a reserve at the center position during camp. He returned to practice Tuesday and said he has continued working with Saturday while the two have been out.
"It looked like he was able to move around some," Colts Head Coach Jim Caldwell said. "We'll see. It's kind of an ongoing process in terms of evaluation."
Manning on Tuesday also discussed a new NFL policy under which umpires will now line up in a new position in the field.
Whereas the umpires previously placed the ball for the center snap, then lined up in the general area of the linebackers, the umpire now beginning this season will typically place the ball and line up behind the quarterback. The exception is in the final two minutes of each half, when the umpire will line up around the linebackers.
Manning said considering their extensive use of the no-huddle offense, the Colts are concerned about the added time for the official to place the ball and get to his new position, but that while the first-team offense was playing Sunday, "it went pretty smooth."
"I thought one time with the second or third group, they ran a quick play and I thought the umpire was pretty slow and it gave the defense a chance to get set and make their calls," Manning said.
Manning said Colts President Bill Polian and Caldwell are monitoring the issue.
"I know Bill and Jim are on top of it and evaluating it and will continue to test it and see how it's going to work and how it's going to affect us, and what adjustments there need to be," Manning said. "We're willing to adjust some, but hopefully they're willing to adjust some, too.
"It would be a shame if one team got penalized more than the other with this rule change. Hopefully, there's a happy medium in there somewhere."
Manning said when officials met with teams during training camp, teams were told the new policy is a "work in progress."
"They made the commitment to make that switch to put him there, but they're going to have to factor in that we are going to be up there and ready to play," Manning said. "Somehow, some way, they have to find a way to make that work. Otherwise, it's going to be ugly.
"For the most part, we're in some form of two-minute (offense) the entire game. How does that affect our offense and our timing? Our philosophy is we're going to run our offense. Hopefully, they can make some adjustments."