NFL Nation: Corey Simon
How things sort themselves out at defensive tackle for the Colts will be a big training camp storyline once practices start Monday.
The team went into the offseason determined to get bigger in the middle and added three players who give them size but can also move the way they need their tackles to: veteran returnee Ed Johnson (6-foot-2, 296 pounds) and draft picks Fili Moala (6-4, 303) and Terrance Taylor (6-0, 319).
"It's designed specifically to get us back to where we were when we had Booger McFarland and Corey Simon," Colts president Bill Polian said. "Corey, I don't know what the hell he was, he might have been 320, Booger was between 307 and 310. And that's what you need to play; you can't play at 265.
"We're not looking for the space-eater, we're not looking for the guy who's just going to sit there and absorb blocks. The idea is not to keep blockers off the linebackers, that's not the design of our defense. But we needed to get people who could stand a gap over 16 games, and that's what we have when we were at our best."
In his outstanding blog, the Eagletarian, Les Bowen of the Philly Daily News compares the Eagles' 2004 Super Bowl starters to the group from Dallas' 2008 team. Terrell Owens, a member of that 2004 team, said Thursday the Cowboys had "way more talent" than that 2004 squad.
Of course, it helps to mix in a playoff win once every 12 years or so, but we won't get into that. Here's the list of starters from those seasons followed by my editorial comments.
WR -- Terrell Owens vs. Terrell Owens: Hard to say which version is more talented. He was one of the best receivers in football in 2004 and he remains one of the best. I'll give the nod to the record-setting T.O. of '07, which makes the 2008 Owens better.
LT -- Tra Thomas vs. Flozell Adams: The 2007 version of Adams was once again dominant. I think you have to take him over Thomas, whose back could flare up at any minute.
LG -- Artis Hcks vs. Cory Procter: You have to take Hicks since Procter's simply a spot starter right now.
C -- Hank Fraley vs. Andre Gurode: Gurode is becoming a perennial Pro Bowler. Fraley was a nice player for that team, but he's not in Gurode's league.
RG -- Jermane Mayberry vs. Leonard Davis: Davis gets the nod. He was the best lineman on the team last season. Absolutely dominant.
RT -- Jon Runyan vs. Marc Colombo: I'll give the nod to the 2004 version of Runyan.
TE -- L.J. Smith vs. Jason Witten: Witten is a no-brainer pick. Smith could have a breakout season, though.
WR -- Todd Pinkston vs. Patrick Crayton: Wasn't Pinkston decent at one point? Actually, he only had one touchdown in 2004. Crayton had seven TDs last season and nearly 700 yards receiving. Give me Crayton.
QB -- Donovan McNabb vs. Tony Romo: Wow, the 2004 McNabb vs. the 2008 Romo. Both tremendous players, but McNabb has more playoff notches in his belt.
FB -- Josh Parry vs. Deon Anderson: Anderson is still learning, so give me Parry.
RB -- Brian Westbrook vs. Marion Barber: Westbrook is one of the league's superstars. He wins over a tremendous young player.
LE -- Jevon Kearse vs. Marcus Spears: Kearse was a disappointment in Philly, but I'll take him over the improving Spears.
NT -- Corey Simon vs. Jay Ratliff: This was before Simon fell off the map. Ratliff's a terriffic young player, but give me Simon.
RE -- Darwin Walker (right DT) vs. Chris Canty: Canty will emerge as a Pro Bowler this season. He's also the better overall talent.
SLB -- Dhani Jones vs. Greg Ellis: Jones was a sharp dresser and talker but Ellis was and is the better player.
MILB -- Jeremiah Trotter vs. Bradie James: James does a nice job in the middle, but Trotter was destroying people in 2004. I loved watching him blitz up the middle. Give me Trotter.
OLB -- Derrick Burgess (right DE) Zach Thomas: Burgess has been exiled to Oakland, so I'm trying to remember how good he was. Even at his advanced age, I'd rather have Thomas than the 2004 version of Burgess.
LB -- Mark Simoneau vs. DeMarcus Ware: Next.
LCB -- Lito Sheppard vs. Terence Newman: Sheppard is immensely talented, but he's banged up too often for us to notice. Give the nod to Newman.
RCB -- Sheldon Brown vs. Anthony Henry: Despite what Drew Rosenhaus might tell you, Brown is an excellent corner. He's more talented than Henry.
FS -- Brian Dawkins vs. Ken Hamlin: Hamlin has become a Pro Bowler, but I'll take the 2004 version of Dawkins any day.
SS -- Michael Lewis vs. Roy Williams: Lewis is more talented as a player and a writer.
P -- Dirk Johnson vs. Mat McBriar: McBriar takes down my old friend and former Colorado caddie, Dirk Johnson.
K -- David Akers vs. Nick Folk: Folk is more talented than Akers, but he doesn't have the body of work. Stick with Akers.
KR -- J.R. Reed vs. Felix Jones: Felix is still green, so I'll take J.R.
PR -- Dexter Wynn vs. Adam Jones: Can't my guy, Reno Mahe, get some love? Give me Pac.
I've got the teams dead even (13-13). Feel free to break the tie.
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