Indianapolis Colts

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Posted by Kevin Bowen on February 22, 2013 – 2:29 pm

Over the past nine seasons, the Colts and Chargers have become rivals despite the 2,000-mile distance between the two organizations.

During that span, the two teams always met late in the regular season (the earliest contest being Nov. 11), with a pair of playoff battles.

Of the seven contests, six were separated by single digits and the rivalry will be renewed in 2013 when the Colts head west to take on the Chargers.

The rivalry will have a much different in feel in 2013 with Chargers coach Mike McCoy taking the reigns in year one.

McCoy and new general manager Tom Telesco are at the helm in San Diego and are in the process of making changes they feel necessary to getting the Chargers back into the postseason.

“Whether it’s running the facility, the way things are done, the organizational structure of everything and then really getting to know everybody as a whole in the organization, not just coaches.” McCoy said of the team’s changes, on Thursday at the NFL combine.

One aspect of the rivalry that won’t change in 2013 is the presence of Philip Rivers quarterbacking the Chargers.

The new coaching staff walks into a scenario where Rivers is an established quarterback but McCoy does want to improve on Rivers’ 55 turnovers the last two seasons.

“That’s the number one thing we’ve got to cut back on,” McCoy said of the turnovers. “Why were certain interceptions thrown? Why did he make certain decisions? Can the protection be better?. Can the routes be run better? It’s going to be 11 guys we finally evaluate. It’s not just the quarterback, though a lot of it falls back on his shoulders.”

The 2013 season marks Rivers’ 10th in the NFL and McCoy loves the intangibles that his quarterback carries with his career entering the final stages.

“(Rivers) has a burning desire to win. That’s what all the great ones do,” McCoy said.

“He wants to do everything possible to change this thing and get it rolling again.”

It’s been a three-year playoff drought for the Chargers, and McCoy is ready to help Rivers get back to a postseason that had become a common occurrence (2004, 2006-2009) for the Chargers.

“Tom Telesco and I are going to do everything we possibly can to build a winner over the long haul. Not just tomorrow, but for years to come,” McCoy said.

“We’re going to change the culture a little bit around there. That’s what happens when you get a new staff come in the building. So we’re going to make some changes over time. But we’re going to do  everything we can to help this team win the next 10 years.”

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Posted by craigkelleycolts on – 2:00 pm

John Elway at NFL Combine Friday

John Elway at NFL Combine Friday

Denver had an excitingly difficult season in 2012, going 13-3, owning home-field playoff advantage and then losing in overtime in the first round, giving up a late long touchdown pass in regulation.

The Broncos watched Baltimore move on to win Super Bowl XLVII, and General Manager John Elway remembers the feeling.  He wants his team to do so, too.

“I don’t want to forget last year.  I don’t want our team to forget it,” said Elway.  “I want them to realize it was a great year, but also forget the feeling of what happened in the playoff game.  Be able to learn from it.  Hopefully, we can build on it and get better as we did in ’96.  1997 and 1998 were (Super Bowl-winning) years.  I hope we can learn like we did (back then).”

Elway is earning his spurs as a league executive.  He is competing in a division with two new head coaches, including Andy Reid in Kansas City.

Elway feels better at this combine than at past combines with the state of his roster, but now is no time to feel safe.

“We have to get better because everybody is.  13-3 is not good enough,” said Elway.  “It was nice we won the division and had home-field advantage but when you lose in the first round of the playoffs, you have to get better.

“We have to learn to play in the post-season.  You can be good in the regular season and I said it last year, ‘We make our money in the regular season.  You make your legacy in the post-season as a player.’

“That’s why what we experienced in the first round was important.  You have to be tough.  The expectations rise.  You don’t have next week.  You have to learn to play with sudden death, which is, ‘There is no next week.’  That’s why great teams flourish in the playoffs.”

Elway won titles in his final two seasons.  His quarterback, Peyton Manning, has one title in an illustrious career.

Elway watched Manning star in the same city where he shaped his own legacy.

“He had a tremendous year.  Talking to other guys who have been through what he’s been through with that neck, there was a lot more to it than I knew,” said Elway.  “I think he exceeded expectations now that I know what he had to go through, not so much physically but mentally.

“He did a tremendous job.  I’m looking forward to next year, too.  I think he’s going to get better. … Peyton had a lot to do with where we (were.)”

Elway feels quarterbacks now entering the league are better prepared than before.  His school turned one out in Andrew Luck, and Elway is among many who anticipate next year’s Colts-Broncos clash in Indianapolis.

“It will be special.  I’m sure it will be special for Peyton,” said Elway.  “Any time you spend as long as Peyton did in Indianapolis and the relationship he has, to go somewhere else and play had to be tough.

“Those are two guys (Luck and Manning) I have a great amount of respect for.  Andrew coming out was as good as there’s been in a long time.  You saw that last year in the year he had.  He was tremendous.  They go from 2-14 to 11-5, not only with Ryan Grigson doing a great job but with what Andrew did.”

John Elway at NFL Combine Friday

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Posted by Kevin Bowen on – 12:04 pm

Growing up in the shadow of the Golden Dome, Braxston Cave always envisioned himself playing for the University of Notre Dame.

That dream became a reality for the Granger, Ind. product as Cave anchored the middle of the Fighting Irish offensive line with 35 starts over the last three seasons.

Cave has been a lineman since he began playing football and even though his college days are over, he still feels the continuity of five guys working towards a common goal during his draft workouts.

“Being pushed as an o-line, it’s not just pushing just one guy. It’s five guys you have to take to another level,” Cave, who is one of the strongest centers in the draft, said on Thursday at the 2013 NFL Combine.

“I’m training with four other guys out in California and we have a full line out there. It’s nice to have guys to compete and push. You’re with some of the top guys in the country so you know what the standard is and how you’re going to have to perform.”

This past season, Cave and the Irish performed at an extremely high level turning in an undefeated regular season and a spot in the BCS Championship.

With the combine taking place this week, Cave said he has tried to focus away from where he his name falls among on the other centers.

“That stuff seems to change every day. I put my work in the last four, five years. It’s all on film,” Cave said.

In 2012, Cave snapped for a balanced offensive attack that produced 2,462 yards on the ground and an additional 2,896 through the air in leading Notre Dame back to the National Title game.

The goal for Cave this week is showcasing his athletic ability that was not as displayed in the offensive system the Irish ran.

“In our offense, I was matched up one-on-one a lot so I didn’t really get to show my speed in the open field,” Cave said. “This will be nice to get out there and open it up.”

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Posted by Kevin Bowen on – 11:12 am

A 'fired up' Andy Reid speaks with the media on Thursday at the NFL Combine. Reid is embarking on his first year as the Kansas City Chiefs Head Coach.

A ‘fired up’ Andy Reid speaks with the media on Thursday at the NFL Combine. Reid is embarking on his first year as the Kansas City Chiefs Head Coach.

Andy Reid has been down this road before.

Back in 1999, as a first-year head coach of the Philadelphia Eagles, Reid walked into a team with the No. 2 overall pick and looking for a franchise quarterback.

The Eagles struck gold with Syracuse signal caller Donavon McNabb and Philadelphia made six playoff appearance over the next eight seasons, after missing the postseason the previous 10 years.

After 14 seasons with the Eagles, Reid moves on to his next challenge with the Kansas City Chiefs.

Last year the Chiefs struggled to a 2-14 record and enter the offseason with the No. 1 pick.

“It’s important that we go through and evaluate everybody,” Reid said at Thursday’s NFL Combine.

“You don’t go for need (at No. 1), you go for who the best player is, or who you perceive the best player to be is and you put them in there and that’s what you go with.”

Reid enters the fold with the Chiefs after a tumultuous 2012 where he his son, Garrett unexpectedly died during the Eagles training camp.

A 4-12 regular season would follow for Reid and the Eagles, and the longest tenured coach in the NFL would be fired on the final day of 2012.

Listening to Reid on Thursday though, the head coach seemed rearing to go on to the next chapter of his life.

“I am fired up to be here,” Reid said during his opening statement to the media.

“We’re getting everything moved in and getting settled down a little bit. I am looking forward to this whole process that we are going through here with the combine and all the personnel decisions that need to be made in the next few months here.”

Reid called the process in Kansas ‘a great challenge’ but there is no denying the stock piling of former first round picks that litter the Chiefs roster.

For the second straight season, the Chiefs will welcome the Colts to Arrowhead Stadium and Reid is anxious to return the energy back into one of the league’s most intimating environments.

“I think there is some good talent on (the Chiefs).”

“The players that I’ve talked to, they understand that you’ve got to give up a little to get some, to get a positive result. As they enter this offseason, they’ve got to really dedicate themselves, as do the coaches, to pull this thing together and make the Kansas City Chiefs better.”

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Posted by craigkelleycolts on – 10:49 am

When Indianapolis visits San Francisco this year, it will be facing the defending NFC champions that feature a former Colt quarterback, Jim Harbaugh, as the head coach and a quarterback he tabbed, Colin Kaepernick, to get them past the NFC Championship hurdle the 49ers missed in 2011.

Harbaugh made a bold move in subbing quarterbacks late in the year, going from Alex Smith to Colin Kaepernick.

The offense prospered and San Francisco came within seconds of winning Super Bowl XLVII.

San Francisco General Manager Trent Baalke spoke Thursday at the combine about the quarterback the Colts may face in 2013.

“He’s a young man that brought an awful lot to the table,” said Baalke of Kaepernick.  “He came out of an offense what was not a “pro style” offense.  (He was) just a guy our coaching staff really believed in.

“Coach Harbaugh has done an outstanding job with him, as has Geep Chryst and Greg Roman.  He still learns, still developing.”

The NFL can be a copycat league and non-traditional offenses being run in college are seeping into the league.  Will it result in more mobile quarterbacks on the landscape?

“I think teams are paying more attention to it obviously,” said Baalke.  “I’m not going to try to guess what 31 other teams are doing, but he certainly puts a little bit more pressure on the defense.

“I think it stresses the defense.  The more that person can do, the more stress it puts on.  Peyton Manning puts a lot of stress on defenses, too.  You’ve got to meet the skill sets of your quarterback.  As long as you do that, I think you’ve got a chance.”

Kaepernick was one of the most explosive forces for the 49ers.  It was an inspired draft pick by San Francisco, a franchise that historically had outstanding signal-callers.

“It’s a lot easier to sit up here after a young man’s had success and say you pictured that, but there’s a lot of unknowns when you draft anybody,” said Baalke.  “You look at skills sets, you look at the kid as an individual, you look at the intangibles that they bring to the table and you try to see if they fit.  He’s a young man who brought an awful lot to the table.

“From a personnel standpoint, it was just letting him develop and giving him an opportunity.”

A Colts-49ers match-up will feature two quarterbacks nimble on their feet and productive in an offense in Kaepernick and Andrew Luck.  Hopefully, it will be the first meeting of two quarterbacks that have significant careers for years to come.

One veteran voice believes the future of the position will look more like Luck.

“I think you’re going to see more Andrew’s (than Kaepernick’s),” said Arizona Head Coach Bruce Arians.

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Posted by Kevin Bowen on – 9:28 am

Flashback to four years ago and as a 230-pound graduating high school senior, Eric Fisher could hardly get Division I colleges to notice the tight end prospect.

He had a pair of MAC offers and there was still the question of whether or not he could put on the necessary weight to become a Division I offensive lineman.

Turn the clock to 2013 and the now 305-pound Fisher is on the minds of nearly every NFL general manager this week with the possibility of being the first offensive tackle selected in April’s NFL Draft.

“It’s just amazing watching my dream becoming a reality, slowly,” Fisher said at Thursday’s NFL Combine.

“Obviously there’s still 2 months till the draft and I’m going to do whatever I have to do to get drafted as high as possible and make my dream complete, but it’s been absolutely amazing. Just a surreal experience.”

While Fisher grew into a dominant tackle in the MAC and the All-American honors followed, he still felt he had to prove himself at the Senior Bowl.

Going up against some of the nation’s finest defensive linemen, Fisher wowed scouts and has seen his stock blossom into a potential top-10 pick.

“I knew what I had to do to impress a lot of people and cancel all the doubt in people’s minds at the senior bowl so I went down there with a little chip on my shoulder, on a mission to prove to a lot of people who Eric Fisher is and what he’s made of,” Fisher said.

At this point it seems to be a foregone conclusion that Fisher will hear his name called in the first round of the 2013 draft.

When that time does come, Fisher will join San Francisco 49ers offensive tackle Joe Staley as the lone CMU products to become first round picks.

“It’s great having a role model like (Staley),” Fisher said. “I remember being recruited and seeing his picture up on the wall as a first-round tackle, and he was a tight end when he started out so he showed me that it was possible.”

“He’s gotten in touch with me recently and it’s great having somebody like that to look up to and be able to talk to about what to expect from the Senior Bowl, to the combine, to the pro day and then to the draft. It’s great keeping in touch with him.”

Fisher returns to the Midwest this week looking to supplant himself as the top tackle in this year’s class.

“That would be a huge, huge honor, and obviously a dream complete,” Fisher said.

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Posted by craigkelleycolts on – 8:13 am

Ryan Grigson was very much at home Thursday talking about his football team to approximately 30 media members surrounding the podium at which he was located.

Grigson talked openly about his team.  He was in a good mood because he was in the environment he loves the most – scouting for talent.

What a difference for Grigson from last year, when he was at a podium a few feet away not being able to speak in specific terms about very many matters.

Yesterday, he took a wide range of questions, even a hypothetical or two.  It was an informative and fun give-and-take.

Grigson mentioned that he feels Chuck Pagano is back to being “Chuck,” and that one of his duties last year was to keep tabs to make sure the ill coach did not push himself back to the worksite too quickly.

Grigson also was asked if the team’s success had anything to do with Pagano’s illness.

“There’s no doubt with Chuck being ill it galvanized our team, and it really brought us together.  Maybe sooner?  No one really knows.  Maybe sooner than it would have had he not (been ill),” said Grigson to a question where there is no ironclad answer.

What Grigson knows is he has a football coach who reaches players.  Pagano is a field leader who provokes positive responses from his troops.

Pagano also established a foundation from which the team did not deviate in his 12-game absence.

“I feel we stayed to the plan when Chuck got sick,” said Grigson.  “Bruce stuck to the plan, and I feel that’s why we were successful.  I feel we laid as strong a foundation as possible because of what Chuck implemented from day one.”

Grigson and Pagano are taking their second trip around the block together.  The 11-5 walk in 2012 was not easy, but it was fun.

Part of what made it so was the type of players the duo attracted and influenced.  They are back at it.

“I know this, we look for the same type of guys this year that we looked for last year, guys that play snap-to-whistle.  Guys that buy into Chuck’s philosophy, and that’s to play hard, physical, get in your book, do the right thing,” said Grigson.  “All the things that make you great, that’s what we’re going to continue to do.

“I think we’re in a good place in terms of our culture and philosophy being intact going into next season.”

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