Jul 5, 2010
Another weekend, and another couple of interviews for Matt Camp and me on Sirius XM Fantasy Football (11 AM – 2 PM Saturday and Sunday on XM 147/Sirius 211). We broke down the Colts, and fought through some technical difficulties to grab the scoop on the Eagles. Here are some interesting tidbits we got:
Mike Chappell has covered the Colts for the Indianapolis Star since they arrived from Baltimore in 1984:
The big news from the generally quiet Colts this off-season was Peyton Manning’s neck surgery. Peyton has been dealing with neck pain for years, and the surgery seems to have relieved that. Chappell has seen Manning as sharp as ever in workouts and camps, and he raised an interesting point: If the neck pain was affecting Manning’s play, imagine how good he could be after the surgery. Scary.
Manning is also in a contract year, and Chappell confirms what we all know: Peyton is going nowhere. He’s talked to both Manning’s agent and GM Bill Polian, and it appears as if Manning’s new contract is a matter of when, not if. But the Colts very rarely do contracts BEFORE the season. They’ve done deals during the year (a la S Bob Sanders), but they may wait Manning’s situation out to see how the rules of the expiring CBA will change. Remember that in 2004, the Colts placed the franchise tag on Manning before re-signing him to a multiyear deal just a few days later.
Also on the contract front, the Colts have a couple of disgruntled stars: WR Reggie Wayne and DE Robert Mathis. Both players have two years left on their contracts, and both players have skipped OTAs and mandatory minicamps. But Chappell argues that their leverage is next to nil, and they can’t make a statement by holding out. He’s anticipating both will realize they have to play, and both will appear for training camp, but things could change.
There are very few true position battles in Indy, but we’re intrigued by the WR situation, and Chappell dropped an interesting morsel on us. A leg injury to Anthony Gonzalez allowed Pierre Garcon and Austin Collie to bust out last season, but Gonzalez is returning this year. Gonzo has been told he’ll have a chance to compete for Garcon’s #2 job, and he resents being told that he’s a slot receiver, ideally. However, if he’s going to win a job, it’ll probably be the #3 spot. And Chappell believes Gonzalez has the upper hand on Collie for that role. PPR owners, take note.
Second-year RB Donald Brown will enter camp in the same “closer” role that he had last year, Chappell believes. Brown was the guy grinding out wins for the Colts early on in 2009 before injuries sidetracked him. Once again, it appears he’ll be backing up veteran Joseph Addai. Addai isn’t a complete player, and Chappell said the Colts realize they were spoiled by having Edgerrin James for so long. But Addai is a good receiver and a great pass protector, which the Colts value. Brown has the skills to be a great blocker, and has flashed (we saw him on tape at NFL Films), but needs to improve his consistency. Still, Addai is in the last year of his deal, and the Colts do not appear to think re-signing him is urgent. After all, they drafted Brown in the first round. If Brown improves his blocking and can stay on the field, the Colts may not bring back Addai, and Brown becomes a really good dynasty guy.
Chris McPherson of PhiladelphiaEagles.com took time out of his hectic July 4 to discuss the happenings in South Philly:
McPherson said the team is currently standing by QB Michael Vick, even though an investigation relating to a shooting at a Virginia nightclub on the same night Vick was throwing himself a birthday party continues. Vick left approximately three minutes before the shooting occurred, which is a later timeframe than originally reported. But in an official statement, the Eagles said all of the information Vick presented to the team is consistent with police reports. Additionally, the Eagles have denied reports that they were considering releasing Vick.
McPherson reiterates that the Eagles believe Vick can help the team ON the field, and his improvements in minicamps have been noticeable. In other words, the rust that weighed him down for most of 2009 appears gone. If that’s true, it makes releasing Vick a much harder decision. Not only is he the backup to the inexperienced Kevin Kolb, but he’s embracing the Wildcat role he played last year and had some success with late in the season. Additionally, the market for veteran backup QBs is very thin, especially since Marc Bulger recently signed with Baltimore.
Speaking of Kolb, McPherson says he is the unquestioned leader of the team, which is incredibly important to coach Andy Reid. Kolb has a great relationship with his weapons on offense, especially TE Brent Celek, who may be his best friend. McPherson remembers that Celek had his two best games of the 2009 season with Kolb starting at QB, and doesn’t believe it’s a coincidence. Kolb’s more accurate style of passing is beneficial for guys like Celek and WR Jeremy Maclin, who can both play a more possession-oriented game. McPherson believes Maclin, especially, is primed for a breakout. He’s added 10 pounds of muscle in the off-season and is embracing the switch to Kolb and what it could mean for his catch total (at this point, McPherson actually brings up the fact that Maclin could be a great PPR sleeper, something we’ve discussed for months).
WR DeSean Jackson may not have the same exact role he had with the big-armed Donovan McNabb under center, but Kolb has a strong enough arm to take advantage of Jackson’s speed, McPherson said. As opposed to a lot of vertical routes, don’t be shocked to see more crossing patterns on which Kolb can lead Jackson, much like a play that resulted in Kolb’s first career TD pass in Week Two 2009. Check out that play here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vAawoL6hiJ8