AFC South: Mike Pollack


Posted by ESPN.com's Paul Kuharsky


The situation: The Colts are up 7-6 with 10:11 on the clock in the third quarter, facing a third-and-9 from their own 30-yard line.

Peyton Manning lines up in the shotgun, between tight end Dallas Clark on his right and running back Donald Brown on his left. Reggie Wayne is in the slot to the left with Austin Collie outside of the numbers left and Pierre Garcon spaced the same to the right.

Against three-wide and expecting pass, the Jaguars are in dime personnel, with Tyron Brackenridge (who lines up near the line between the left end and defensive tackle) and Scott Starks on the field along with only one linebacker, Brian Iwuh, who starts off to the offensive left.

Here’s what I saw unfold after the snap:
  • Manning fakes a handoff to Brown who heads up the middle.
  • Left tackle Charlie Johnson rides right defensive end Derrick Harvey wide and right guard Ryan Lilja arrives to help make sure Harvey has no chance to recover and get in position to influence the play.
  • Right tackle Ryan Diem gets chip help from Clark, whose contribution actually puts left end Quentin Groves on the ground. Clark then draws the attention of Brackenridge.
  • Right guard Mike Pollak and center Jeff Saturday team up to stymie defensive tackle Derek Landri.
  • Brown cuts right near the line of scrimmage and has a step on Iwuh who is in pursuit. A bit deeper, Wayne has cut behind Brown on a similar cross.
  • Manning delivers the ball to Brown in stride and he catches it, continuing to the right but dipping his left shoulder to angle for yardage before safety Reggie Nelson arrives and cuts him down.
Result: Ten-yard gain, first down.

Ultimate outcome: The third-down conversion makes Manning five-for-five throwing in such situations. The Colts go 60 more yards in five more plays, pulling ahead 14-6 when Manning hits Wayne with a 35-yard touchdown strike.
Posted by ESPN.com's Paul Kuharsky

FRANKLIN, Ind. -- Some observations and thoughts from Saturday afternoon's public minicamp practice at Franklin College's Faught Stadium:

Outreach: Bill Polian spoke to the crowd before things started and told those in attendance that owner Jim Irsay had charged the team to create more outreach and more interaction with fans, which was the impetus for a practice like this one.

Boomer: New special teams coach Ray Rychleski has a booming voice that carries. He's got some enthusiasm for sure and offered critiques and compliments with equal fervor. Rookie punter Pat McAfee bombed a couple, but was inconsistent.

Stumble: Tyjuan Hagler provided some comic relief, tripping over his own feet during a linebacker drill where players zigzagged in a back pedal before breaking on a ball.

Third wide: I tried to read into how the receivers deployed, but there is no telling at this stage how the candidates for the No. 3 job -- Pierre Garcon, Austin Collie and Roy Hall -- stack up. My eye -- which has no experience training receivers, just lots watching them -- puts them in that order right now.

It got even harder to gauge Garcon against Collie when Anthony Gonzalez dropped out, seemingly with a right thigh issue. Those two worked in three-wide with Reggie Wayne. That might tell us something about Hall, though.

Clyde Christensen is working as the offensive coordinator now, but is still with the receivers as their position coach. The Colts are creative in some of the drills they use when the wideouts work alone. I don't recall seeing other teams, for example, run short stuff where they cut behind a blocking bag that interrupts their view as they angle back to collect a pass. But it seems a smart way to recreate some real-world experience in this sort of mild setting. I saw Collie, Hall and Taj Smith drop short passes in that segment.

Details: While special teams work went on at one point, quarterbacks worked alone. Peyton Manning lined up in the spot where he imagined a defender would be on a specific play and looked to offer detailed commentary/advice/coaching to Curtis Painter before he took a few drops envisioning the full 11 that could be opposite him.

Protection: The first offensive line that worked in front of Manning in a team drill was, left to right: Tony Ugoh, Jamey Richard, Jeff Saturday, Dan Federkeil and Ryan Diem. (Charlie Johnson and Mike Pollak didn't work and Ryan Lilja didn't work that deep into the session.)

Scrambled backers: I tried to look at linebackers the same way, but it seemed like there was a lot of mix and match going on. One early group had Jordan Senn and Philip Wheeler bracketing Adam Seward. Of all the things not to read much into -- which is virtually everything here -- I'd rank this first.

Coming back: Watched Lilja, who's coming off a season lost to a knee injury, a little bit. He wore sleeves on both knees and seemed comfortable firing off the line and cutting down a blocking bag/tackling dummy as the O-line concentrated on some individual technique.

Off day: Among those who sat out at spots other than the O-line: Running backs Joseph Addai and Mike Hart, defensive end Dwight Freeney, cornerback Marlin Jackson, safety Bob Sanders and linebacker Gary Brackett.

Catches: In work with just quarterbacks and wide receivers, Gonzalez ran on to a nice line drive post from Manning, stopping it with one hand and then catching up to it as he accelerated. In the same period, Austin went to the ground to collect a pass from Chris Crane.

The break-up: Third-round cornerback Jerraud Powers made what I thought was the standout defensive play of the afternoon. In the team period, matched up with Wayne and with Manning, Powers broke well on mid-range pass to the left side, got a hand in front of Wayne and broke it up.

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