It’s here! The 2008 NFL season is upon us and you know what that means…time for my annual Indianapolis Colts preview – in other words, time for me to bore the ever-living crap out of 98% of the people reading this. Good times!
Last year was lackluster in producing juicy stories heading into the season – except for the Mike Vick story that somehow seems like it was 5 years ago that all went down. This year is different. This year, we’re all on pins and needles to see Brett Favre in a new uniform…riveting! Beyond that, the storylines this summer and preseason have revolved around injuries. Will Peyton Manning and Tom Brady be healthy for the season? Should pro-bowler Shawne Merriman risk his career to play this season with a torn MCL, or should he have surgery and rehab for next year? What will the New York Superbowl Giants do now that 2 of 3 of their defensive studs are gone (Strahan retired, Umenyiora out for the season)? I really can’t remember another time where so many key players are question marks heading into the season. Brady,
Infected Bursa Sac Buddies!! ------------->
The re-acquisition of Dominic Rhodes – Yes, after experiencing the dark side, making irresponsible decisions and putting illegal substances into his body, Dominic “the prodigal”
Tony Dungy still lives here – Even if Rhodes was a troublemaker out in
Peyton Manning is still on the roster – All signs point to him playing in week one, but Manning hasn’t taken a snap all preseason long because he had an infected Bursa Sac removed from his knee in July. If Manning plays, then you can pencil in another 4,000 yard, 30-touchdown season. If he doesn’t play all of the games, then who would you rather have on the sidelines, coaching Jim “I’m a fan disguised as a quarterback” Sorgi through every fumble and interception?
Reggie Wayne and Marvin Harrison – BOTH have something to prove this year.
Defense – I could sit here and write about how Bob Sanders just got back from Krypton, or how Dwight Freeney feels like a rookie again because he hasn’t been on a football field in 10 months, but that’d be too easy. No doubt, without those two players, the Colts defense would strug-gle this season. Instead, I want to say how I’m most looking forward to watching the likes of Antoine Bethea, Marlin Jackson, Kelvin Hayden and Freddie Keiaho come into their own after a few seasons under their belts. I believe Bethea is primed to become just as big of a beast as Sanders this year, and I think the hard-hitting combo of Jackson and Hayden can hang with any CB duo in the league. The Colts have a reputation of molding great linebackers (see: David Thornton, Mike Peterson, Cato June), and Keiaho has had a few seasons to get his feet wet. This is his breakout season. Unfortunately for Colts fans, the Colts also have a reputation of getting rid of said great linebackers immediately after they become great (see: David Thornton, Mike Peterson, Cato June). So enjoy him while you can.
Injuries – I don’t have to say it, but starting the season with a plethora of injuries probably doesn’t serve well for a successful season. Sanders, Freeney, Manning and Harrison are all coming off of injuries and surgeries. Now that Manning seems to be coming back, his security hand warmer, Jeff Saturday goes down with an MCL injury and is out for at least six weeks. The Colts need all of these players on the field in order to be successful. Freeney missed most of last season and the pass rush was feeble at best – making Billy Volek look like the mutant child of Mike Vick and John Elway in last year’s playoff game against
Special Teams – Good God can we please make some tackles on kickoff and punt coverage this year? It’s
Offensive Line – The only real reason I think the O-line is a liability is because of Saturday’s injury. He’s gone for at least six weeks and his backup, Ryan Lilja is also on the physically unable to perform list. So now we’ve got a collection of three rookies who could be snapping to Peyton Manning. Suffice it to say that when you’re bed-side tonight saying your prayers, throw one or two in there for Saturday’s little knee ligaments and Peyton Manning’s tolerance for pain.
The Colts will win their division, but it will be closer than in years past. They’re not going to take the last two games of the season off to rest their starters.
...of course, if all of these injuries prove to keep their key players out for significant time, forget I said any of this.