“At any point in time you'll know how we do things with the Colts, it's the best players play,” Colts general manager Ryan Grigson said. “Iron sharp as iron. We're going to try to have the most competition at each position group and whoever wins that spot is going to be the starter and it's who is going to get us to that next level, which is Super Bowl XLIX and that's the mindset. You're either all in or all out."
If the 2013 season is any indication, Donald Brown should be the starter, but he's a free agent and may not return. The Colts have a first round pick invested in Richardson, so they want him to be the starter. But can he play well enough that starter's snaps are justified?
Monday, February 24, 2014, 12:02pm
Cardinals HC Bruce Arians changed the role of wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald last season, having him play inside and moving him around. Arians said Fitzgerald got more comfortable with it during the season and it helped to play inside where his size could be an advantage. Arians had done it previously in Pittsburgh with Hines Ward and in Indianapolis with Reggie Wayne.
A major factor in making the shift for Fitzgerald, Arians said, was the receiver’s age. Fitzgerald turned 30 in August.
“Guys lose a step at age 30,” Arians said. “It’s just natural. As hard as they train and everything, at 30 it’s just a different ballgame. They accept it, they want to become better players, they say help me become a better player than when I was 26. This is how you do it.”
It appears that most, if not all, of the Colts players who missed extensive playing time last season should be back for the start of training camp.
WR Reggie Wayne (knee), tight end Dwayne Allen (groin), running back Vick Ballard (knee), offensive guard Donald Thomas (quad) and cornerback Greg Toler (foot) are expected back and would be good to go.
“From all the reports that I’ve been getting from our trainers and from the doctors in the meetings we’ve had, everyone’s going in the right direction. We’re optimistic about everyone,” Grigson said.
Wayne was the #19 WR in standard formats and the #17 WR in PPR through the first seven weeks prior to tearing his ACL. He's 35 and coming off of a major knee injury. He may be able to play, but it's hard to envision him returning to his usual form in time for the 2014 season.
Even if Richardson is handed the starting gig in Indy, there's no guarantee that he won't be passed by Vick Ballard or another back by midseason. That goes double if the Colts re-sign Donald Brown. T-Rich just hasn't looked very explosive since entering the NFL.
While the Texans were the worst team in the NFL last season and the 32-year-old Johnson’s entering his 12th season, the seven-time Pro Bowler hasn’t given any thought to ending his career anytime soon.
“I know I’m not a second-, third-, or fourth-year guy. Everything comes to an end at some point,” said Johnson, who started all 16 games in 2013, recording 109 receptions for 1,407 yards and five touchdowns. “But right now I don’t know when it might end. I’m feeling fine. I’m feeling healthy. So I’m going to continue to play as long as I can.
“Everybody knows that day when it’s over. When that day comes, I’ll have no problem stepping away. But right now I feel fine. I feel like I still have a few more years left in me.”
Johnson finished the season as the #12 WR but failed to find the endzone in the final seven weeks after scoring all five of his touchdowns in Week 9 (9-229-3) and Week 10 (5-37-2) against the Colts and Cardinals, respectively. With the #1 overall pick in their pocket, the Texans should get an upgrade at QB, though a rookie passer is always a bit of a risk. Johnson will turn 33 in July and is starting to show signs of slowing down. But he should continue to be a quality fantasy starter for at least another year or two.
When asked about the Colts' running game heading into 2014, beat writer Mike Wells had this to say:
"You would have thought this would be a no-brainer when the Colts acquired Trent Richardson from Cleveland. But as everybody knows, Richardson never found a comfort zone with the team. It’ll be a wide-open competition for the starting running back position. Vick Ballard, like receiver Reggie Wayne, has to prove he can regain his form after suffering a torn ACL. Don't be surprised if Donald Brown decides to test the free-agency market to earn more money and a bigger role on a team. He'll likely start behind Richardson and Ballard on the depth chart if he re-signs."
The only surprise here is that Wells believes that Donald Brown would start third on the depth chart after he (vastly) outplayed Trent Richardson in 2013. If this is the case, it's doubtful that Brown will re-sign. He has earned a shot at a starting gig somewhere (or at least as a back that will get a dependable amount of touches).
“They’re a good complement to each other, and we like Miller’s speed and explosiveness,” the Dolphins staffer said. “Miller has the higher ceiling, but you wish he ran with a more physical [style]. And both have to improve as blockers.”
Miller is ranked #31 in John Paulsen's Never-Too-Early RB Rankings due to concerns about certainty of workload. Miller averaged 12.7 touches per game, while Thomas saw an average of 8.3 touches.
The Colts announced today that they hired Rob Chudzinski as special assistant to the head coach.
“Rob and I have a long professional relationship and his résumé speaks for itself,” Colts coach Chuck Pagano said in a statement. “He brings a wealth of knowledge and will be a tremendous help to our entire team moving forward. Needless to say, we’re excited to have ‘Chud’ joining our family.”
We're not sure what a 'special assistant' does, but it's fair to say that Chudzinski will have plenty of input on the offensive side of the ball. Known to run a TE-friendly offense, the hire is likely good for Coby Fleener and Dwayne Allen, but if both players are healthy they'll likely cap each other's upside.
Colts RB Trent Richardson spent too much time thinking when he took the handoff than running with the type of speed and force that made him the No. 3 overall pick in the 2012 draft.
“Learn the system, not just memorizing it,” Richardson said. “Learning the whole concept of the system. There's a difference between having it memorized and feeling comfortable with the system. I’m going talk to a lot of veteran players, talk to Adrian (Peterson), talk to (LaDainian Tomlinson) , talk to Emmitt Smith to make sure I’m the best I need to be next year.”
The Colts went from pulling off the biggest trade of last season when they acquired Richardson from the Cleveland Browns for a first-round pick to currently having the move favor the Browns after Richardson only averaged 2.9 yards a carry. The thought of the dynamic duo of Richardson and quarterback Andrew Luck has yet to come together. Richardson ended up losing the starting running back position to Donald Brown on Dec. 1, 2013.
We're not terribly optimistic that T-Rich will be able to turn it around. Other than the 11 rushing TDs, he wasn't very good (3.6 YPC) in Cleveland. And while some would blame the Indianapolis offensive line for Richardson's struggles (2.9 YPC), Donald Brown (5.3 YPC) ran just fine behind the same unit. Brown is a free agent and should be re-signed, but the Colts appear to be "all in" on Richardson after giving up a first round pick for him.
It’s an anniversary that Reggie Wayne doesn’t want to be celebrating but he knows brighter days are ahead. A week from Saturday will mark three months since Wayne had surgery for his torn ACL.
Wayne is looking forward to Jan. 25, as it will be the next phase in his rehab process. “I’m going to do straight ahead running (then),” Wayne said on his weekly radio show on WNDE.
“I’m looking forward to doing that. I’ve been walking quite often lately. I get to run on a treadmill and that’s basically it.” Through the early phases of Wayne’s rehab, the 13-year veteran says that he’s “ahead of schedule”.
It's hard to get excited about a 35 year-old WR coming off of an ACL tear, but Wayne is a pro and could return to a solid possession role in the Indianapolis offense. He's entering the final year of his contract, which means it will likely be his last year with the Colts.
Soon-to-be 27 year-old Donald Brown is the better player, but he's a free agent and the Colts may not have the resources to bring him back. If Brown is out of the way, T-Rich will have his supporters based mainly on his (probable) high workload.
Since he's already "limited," Thompkins should get cleared for Sunday's game.
There’s a belief that Chiefs WR Dwayne Bowe, who is listed at 6 feet 2 and 221 pounds, could take a major step toward doing just that by having a strong offseason of conditioning, something that Bowe himself acknowledged during the radio interview.
“One thing I want to work on — my endurance,” Bowe said. “I was really, really tired that last game.”
Bowe said he plans on changing the way he eats, though he didn’t provide details. He said he played this year between 212 and 214 pounds but hopes to report to camp a little lighter to better fit the offense.
“I probably want to play at 208 and try to be as quick and swift as possible, because that’s the kind of receivers that Andy had when he was in Philly,” Bowe said. “I’d like to be more explosive and faster than I was this season. I just want to work on my work ethic a little more and become quicker and faster so I can be like DeSean Jackson and those speedy, quick guys.”
Bowe finished the season as the #44 fantasy WR, but was the #26 wideout from Week 11 to Week 16. (The Chiefs rested their starters in Week 17.) Bowe also posted 8-150-1 against the Colts in the Wildcard round of the playoffs, so there is some reason for optimism heading into 2014. Bowe also revealed that he has a small crack in his foot (which he calls a third-degree sprain) that won't require surgery.
Detroit Lions are hiring Jim Caldwell as their head coach, per a league source.
Caldwell coached for the Colts while Peyton Manning was there and guided the Ravens offense to a Super Bowl win during the 2012 season. Last season's offensive struggles are a concern, but the Lions obviously feel like his resume is strong enough to justify the hire.
Monday, January 13, 2014, 11:16am
The Colts will have to decide if they want to let their most productive RB (Donald Brown) go in favor of Trent Richardson and Vick Ballard. Brown is a free agent and played well in a somewhat limited role this season.