- Paul Kuharsky, ESPN Staff Writer
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Posted by ESPN.com's Paul Kuharsky
INDIANAPOLIS -- One of Jacksonville’s big issues coming into the season was pass pressure. The Jaguars didn’t get a lot of heat on Peyton Manning in the opener.
Manning was sacked once, by veteran end Reggie Hayward. But he was only hit twice, compared to David Garrard who was sacked once but hit six times and under pretty steady pressure, especially on the game's most crucial downs.
Last year’s top two draft picks, defensive ends who were expected to provide the team with consistent pass-rush pressure, didn’t show a lot of progress. Derrick Harvey had two tackles and Quentin Groves was credited with four tackles and a forced fumble
Manning raved about his protection, including the work of Charlie Johnson who manned left tackle, considered a weak spot by many. The run game wasn’t great, but the Colts stuck with it with 31 carries for 71 yards to keep the Jaguars honest.
Manning talked about excellent protection and great conditioning, drawing laughs when he mentioned that two Jacksonville defenders, defensive tackle Derek Landri and Groves, both needed attention for cramps at the conclusion of the same third-quarter play.
“I thought the protection was outstanding,” Manning said. “... It’s really a credit to them on the conditioning. We were no-huddle. We really wanted to go up-tempo and set the tone to Jacksonville. Two of their players cramped on one play, it looked a little coincidental to me. I saw one of their coaches doing this signal” -- Manning held his nose and pointed to the ground. “It looked like the word ‘tank’ might be coming.
“That’s one thing about playing at home now, it’s not a dome anymore and you’ve got to be conditioned in the heat and we wanted to be well conditioned. For those linemen to be able to keep that tempo up the entire game was a credit to them.”
Said Johnson, who was awarded the job when he came off the PUP list ahead of incumbent Tony Ugoh before the preseason opener: “We played well but there are definitely things we need to get better at. It felt like it went well. It felt like I did the same things that I’ve been working on since camp and since I’ve been here. And the next thing is Miami.”