NFL Nation: Tommie Harris

LAKE FOREST, Ill. -- The pick: Will Sutton, defensive tackle, Arizona State.

My take: The Bears poured a massive amount of resources into repairing the interior of the defensive line with Sutton and second-round pick Ego Ferguson of LSU. Sutton, a two-time Pac-12 defensive player of the year, had 13 sacks and 23.5 tackles for loss for the Sun Devils in 2012 and likely projects to line up at three-technique in the NFL.

Sutton's numbers dropped last year when he registered only 48 tackles, four sacks and 13.5 tackles-for-loss. Many draft analysts believe Sutton's decline in production was due to his being overweight. Sutton said he is currently at 290 pounds but can continue to drop weight if the Bears want him to.

The defensive tackle was declared academically ineligible in 2010.

Sutton obviously made a positive impression on the Bears and defensive line coach Paul Pasqualoni during his pre-draft visit to Halas Hall.

Double-dip: The last time the Bears went back-to-back at defensive tackles in the early rounds was 2004 when former general manager Jerry Angelo selected Tommie Harris and Tank Johnson. When Harris and Johnson were healthy and focused, they comprised one of the best defensive tackle combos in the league. The Bears would be absolutely thrilled if one day Sutton and Ferguson can grow into that role.

Both players are expected to be part of a rotation in 2014, but Sutton and Ferguson could be the future starters at three-technique and nose tackle, respectively.

What's next: The Bears hold four picks Saturday (Nos. 117, 156, 183, 191) but none in the seventh-round due to last year's trade with Dallas for tight end Dante Rosario. But the Bears do have an extra choice in the sixth round, courtesy of sending former first-round choice Gabe Carimi to the Bucs.

With cornerback and defensive tackle addressed, the Bears are expected to target help at linebacker, running back and perhaps safety, although the consensus top-five safeties are all off the board.
TAMPA, Fla. -- Add another name to the list of veterans who worked out for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on Tuesday.

Defensive tackle Tommie Harris worked out for the club, according to a league source.

Harris did not play in 2012. He was with San Diego in 2011 and spent seven seasons before that with Chicago.

As previously reported, the Bucs also worked out running back Peyton Hillis and tight end Visanthe Shiancoe.

The Bucs appear ready to start rookie Akeem Spence next to Gerald McCoy at defensive tackle. But Harris could bring some much-needed depth to the middle of the defensive line.

Friendship trumps vacation for Fitzgerald

February, 20, 2012
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The horrible news about Tommie Harris' wife dying from an apparent brain aneurysm carried a poignant footnote regarding Harris' friendship with Larry Fitzgerald.

"No one went to greater lengths to get to the funeral than Fitzgerald," Sean Jensen wrote in the Chicago Sun-Times. "He was vacationing in South America, and he jetted back -- including paying for a charter for one leg -- to be there for Harris. Fitzgerald then returned to South America after the funeral."

Harris' wife was 29 years old and recently gave birth to the couple's second child, according to Jensen.

I'm not sure how Harris and Fitzgerald became such close friends. NFC West fans might recall Harris getting ejected from a 2009 game involving Fitzgerald's Arizona Cardinals. Fitzgerald was not involved in that situation. He tends to transcend the scuffles that take place regularly on the field.

Experience warns against building athletes or anyone into superheroes. Fitzgerald, easily the Cardinals' most valuable player in 2011, makes that tougher than most through his actions on and off the field.

Bears regular-season wrap-up

January, 4, 2012
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NFC Wrap-ups: East | West | North | South AFC: East | West | North | South

Arrow indicates direction team is trending.

Final Power Ranking: 20
Preseason Power Ranking: 13

[+] EnlargeCaleb Hanie
AP Photo/Paul SakumaCaleb Hanie was ineffective after taking over for an injured Jay Cutler in late November.
Biggest surprise: The Bears installed little-known Henry Melton into the critical "three-technique" position on their defensive line, hoping that the converted running back/defensive end could play the role of interior playmaker last filled by Tommie Harris about five years ago. Melton had his ups and downs, but he finished with seven sacks in 15 games. The only defensive tackle in the NFL with more sacks was Tommy Kelly of the Oakland Raiders, who had 7.5. Melton will have to even out his game to be a long-term starter, but no team is going to turn down seven sacks from an interior defensive lineman.

Biggest disappointment: Backup quarterback Caleb Hanie spent nearly four years in the organization before the Bears called on him for extensive service. No matter the situation, that's a reasonable timeframe for a quarterback to develop into a useful asset. When Hanie took over a 7-3 team, it was fair to think he could navigate the Bears toward the playoffs. Instead, he was benched after four consecutive losses, punctuated by nine interceptions and 19 sacks, and helped scuttle the Bears' postseason hopes. You can't blame Hanie for everything that went wrong during that stretch, but the quarterback is the most important player on the field and Hanie obviously didn't do enough to win a game. The Bears deserve some blame for failing to develop him, but in the end the responsibility lies with the player.

Biggest need: Amazingly, it's a toss-up between two positions that annually draw offseason discussion around this team: receiver and safety. Quarterback Jay Cutler has obvious chemistry with receiver Earl Bennett, but it's also clear that Devin Hester is best left primarily as a returner and that veteran Roy Williams is on his last legs. The Bears traded away tight end Greg Olsen because he didn't fit into now ex-coordinator Mike Martz's system, and they enter this offseason with a far-too-limited number of reliable pass-catchers. Meanwhile, there is reason to believe that 2011 third-round pick Chris Conte merits a look as a starting safety in 2012, but 2010 third-rounder Major Wright hasn't shown much progress and the Bears desperately need a playmaker in the back end.

Team MVP: Part of me wants to say that tailback Matt Forte deserves the award. Amid a public negotiation about his expiring contract, Forte was leading the NFL in yards from scrimmage when he suffered a season-ending sprained knee in Week 13. But the Bears' collapse after Cutler's injury, especially before Forte was sidelined, demonstrated how valuable he really is. The Bears averaged 32 points per game during a five-game winning streak prior to his injury. In a 1-5 finish, they averaged 14.2 points per game. Sometimes, as they say, you don't know what you've got until it's gone.

Whither Hester? In Week 10, Hester returned a punt 82 yards against the Detroit Lions for his 18th career touchdown return. That left him one behind Deion Sanders' NFL record. But illness and a sprained ankle dramatically limited Hester's impact thereafter. He caught only four passes in the Bears' final seven games, and over that stretch he managed three returns for more than 30 yards. Hester is the type of player who could have helped overcome the ineffective offense Cutler left behind. His disappearance is a little-mentioned, but highly important, factor in their 8-8 final record.

The mild, mild West

November, 6, 2011
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Philip RiversChristopher Hanewinckel/US PresswireFor the first time in his NFL career, Chargers QB Philip Rivers threw three interceptions.
SAN DIEGO -- Here come the Denver Broncos?

Why not? It’s the AFC West and everything appears to be on the table.

With half the NFL regular season remaining, anything is possible in what is developing into the NFL’s wildest race. It is plausible that any team in the AFC West could win the division crown and any team could finish in last place.

On a day the Kansas City Chiefs and Oakland Raiders could end up long regretting, the Chargers, Chiefs and Raiders started in a three-way tie and ended in a three-way tie after all three teams lost home games. They are all 4-4 at midpoint of the season. Denver -- yes, Denver -- looms at 3-5.

Week 9 has to be particularly disheartening for Kansas City and Oakland. Both teams had to be looking forward to improving to 5-3 Sunday and seeing if the other teams in the scrum would keep up. Kansas City was entertaining winless Miami and the Raiders were hosting hapless Denver, fresh off a 35-point home loss to Detroit.

“You never know what is going to happen,” San Diego defensive lineman Tommie Harris said after the Chargers lost 45-38 to Green Bay on Sunday. “That’s why we just have to bounce back quickly.”

The Chiefs – who came into Week 9 on a four-game win streak -- were dismantled 31-3 by the Dolphins. Oakland, in the first start of the Carson Palmer era, was run over 38-24 by the Broncos.

Both the Chiefs and the Raiders may be guilty of looking ahead. The Chiefs came out of a huge Monday night win over the Chargers last week thinking they’d be 6-3 after home dates against Miami and Denver. After starting 4-2, the Raiders had designs on going 6-2 with home games against Kansas City and Denver on the horizon.

Things can quickly change.

Just ask the Chargers. Three weeks ago, they were defending their somewhat shaky play by pointing out they were 4-1. Now, they are simply another shaky .500 team after three straight losses that featured critical fourth-quarter miscues by struggling quarterback Philip Rivers.

Rivers threw three interceptions (for the first time in his NFL career), including two that were brought back for touchdowns in the first quarter and another one that scuttled a potential game-tying touchdown drive in the final minute in a wild loss to unbeaten Green Bay.

Had the Chargers been able to come back to beat Green Bay, they would be looking good at 5-3 in this division. Instead, the three-way logjam continues.

None of these three teams can say they are currently a good team. All three have issues moving into the second half of the season.

If I had to peg a favorite to emerge from the AFC West heap right this moment, I’d probably say the Chargers -- who host the Raiders in a critical division game Thursday night.

It just seems that they currently have fewer major questions than the other teams in the division. The Chargers are skidding, but they aren’t playing terribly. San Diego needs some tweaking, but it doesn’t seem to be in any major upheaval. The Chargers could have won any one of the three past games.

While Rivers is clearly making way too many crucial mistakes, he is still making a lot of plays. It’s not like his game is in total disarray. If he can clean up the problems, the Chargers should be fine.

What's worrisome about Kansas City is that on Sunday it reverted to the poor form of the first two games of the season when it was beaten by a combined score of 89-10. No contending team should be hammered like that at home by a bottom feeder like Miami. Plus, the Chiefs’ schedule gets extremely difficult in Weeks 11-15. They have road games at New England, the Jets and Chicago and home games against Pittsburgh and Green Bay.

The Raiders are a bit of a mystery right now.

They are 0-2 since trading two premium draft picks for Palmer. He has thrown six interceptions in six quarters with the Raiders. Oakland has problems on defense and its offense is clearly out of sorts with the sudden quarterback change from Jason Campbell to Palmer. The Raiders have loads of talent, but they have to quickly get their house in order.

The Broncos are the least talented team in the division, but the truth is, they are still in the hunt. Truly, anything can happen out West in the next two months.

Count the Chargers among those who are grateful to be in the race.

“Whether we’re 8-0, 2-6 or 4-4, we’re tied for first place,” safety Eric Weddle said. “That’s all that matters … let’s see what happens after 16 games.”

There’s no question that this muddled, imperfect race has the feel of one that will go the distance.
Chris Harris is 29 years old. Last season, the Associated Press named him a second-team All-Pro. So how could it be that Harris made it through only seven games for the Chicago Bears this season before his surprise release Thursday morning?

A couple of factors are in play here, not the least of which is the Bears' pathological compulsion to swap out players at the safety position. Since taking over as coach in 2004, Lovie Smith has made 29 changes to his lineup at safety. When the Bears return from their bye next week, they'll be looking for a new starter to pair next to the sudden anchor of the position, rookie Chris Conte, who has started two games in his NFL career.

It's fair to say that Harris struggled some in coverage this season, most recently when receiver Dezmon Briscoe beat him for a touchdown in last Sundays' 24-18 victory over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. But I think even Harris would admit he is best used near the line of scrimmage as a run enforcer. A starting safety must be able to function in pass coverage, but the Bears could have protected Harris more if they had a better option to play alongside him. Wright, Conte and newcomer Brandon Meriweather -- who has been a healthy scratch the past two weeks -- all have similar run-first styles.

Finally, I think it's impossible to ignore the systematic breakup the Bears are engineering of their long-held core of veterans. Since the end of last season, they have bid farewell to defensive tackle Tommie Harris, center Olin Kreutz, tight end Desmond Clark and now Harris. (You wonder if linebacker Lance Briggs, who requested a trade last summer, will be the next to go.)

The Bears had justifiable football reasons for parting ways with each of those veterans. If Smith was ready to bench Harris permanently, there was no sense keeping him as a backup/special-teams player. NFL teams routinely make harsh decisions about key players, but the Bears have made a number of them in short order. So it goes.

Bob Sanders' body betrays him again

September, 28, 2011
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You have to think Bob Sanders' NFL career is over.

[+] EnlargeBob Sanders
Christopher Hanewinckel/US PresswireBob Sanders' NFL career may be over after being put on the injured reserve.
After playing just nine games total in the past three years for the Indianapolis Colts, Sanders' season with the San Diego Chargers ended after two games. Sanders, who missed Sunday’s game against Kansas City, was put on the injured reserve Wednesday. That means four straight seasons have ended on the injured reserve for the hard-hitting, playmaking safety. He has played just 11 games since the 2007 season when he was the NFL Defensive Player of the Year.

San Diego general manger A.J. Smith made it clear in a statement that the Sanders’ experiment is over in San Diego.

“All we wished for Bob was good health and hoped to turn him loose to do his thing, which was being one great, physical, highly-competitive player,” Smith said. “It didn’t work out for him or us, and we wish him the very best. He was with us a very short time, but made a positive impact with our team in many ways, and I’ll always appreciate that.”

The Chargers knew they were taking a chance on Sanders and the deal was very team friendly. But they liked Sanders and they wanted him to be a big part of the defense. They expected him and fellow safety Eric Weddle to create a special tandem.

When I spoke to Smith about Sanders, Smith said all Sanders needed was “health.” He didn’t get it. I met Sanders during the summer and he is easy to root for. He said he was due for some good health and he was thrilled to get the chance in San Diego. When healthy this summer, Sanders was fast and he looked good.

But, in the end, his body betrayed him again.

The Chargers, who are getting used to injuries, will use Steve Gregory with Weddle along with some other young players. Gregory is serviceable, but a healthy Sanders could have been special.

Meanwhile, the Chargers brought in another veteran defender. Defensive tackle Tommie Harris replaces Sanders on the roster.

Harris was cut both by Chicago and Indianapolis this year. The Chargers want a veteran to fill the gap in the rotation for the next few weeks. Luis Castillo will be out for several weeks with a broken leg and Jacques Cesaire will be out for several weeks with a knee injury. Rookie defensive wend Corey Liuget missed last week’s game with an ankle injury. He was practicing some Wednesday. Still, it is not known if he can play against the Dolphins. The Chargers will take anything Harris can give him at this point.

Donovan McNabb not buying the pattern

September, 14, 2011
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You know the story.

Pro Bowl quarterback gets traded by his long-time employers to a division rival. Quarterback gets benched late in the season, is shipped out for a sixth-round draft choice and takes a 60 percent pay cut to play for near-backup money. Debuting for his third team in three years, quarterback throws for 39 yards on an otherwise record-setting passing weekend in the NFL.

[+] EnlargeDonovan McNabb
Matt A. Brown/Icon SMIDonovan McNabb threw for just 39 yards in the Vikings' opener.
The pattern doesn't look good for Donovan McNabb, whom the Minnesota Vikings acquired this summer to provide a short-term competitive jump while rookie Christian Ponder spends some development time on the sideline. Speaking to reporters Wednesday, McNabb admitted that "from the start of this, there can be a lot of assumptions." But he suggested that writing him off after one unproductive week would be a mistake.

"A lot of times we make too much of one particular game," McNabb said, "where all of a sudden one person looks great and the other guy, he doesn't have it. And as the season goes on, the guy that they felt looked great in the first game, you don't hear about any more. And the team that maybe started out a little slow and continued to progress, those are the teams that you talk about later. That's one thing that I've learned in my 13 years."

In truth, anyone who watched the Vikings' 24-17 loss to the San Diego Chargers knows McNabb deserves but a portion of the blame for Minnesota's anemic passing results. The Chargers' pass rush broke free a number of times, and as we discussed earlier this week, the Vikings called a run on about 80 percent of their first-down plays.

It's no secret that tailback Adrian Peterson is the Vikings' best player, but McNabb insisted that the offense will "by no means" be predictable and hinted there is much more coming on the proverbial conveyor belt.

"I mean everyone expects us to hand the ball off to Adrian," McNabb said. "But there are plays in this offense and things that we can do, and things that we will do, that will begin to answer a lot of the questions that teams might have."

It would be unfair for everyone involved to start drawing conclusions about McNabb. He was a pretty good quarterback as recently as 2009, and the blame for his performance last season for the Washington Redskins has been debated around the NFL.

But I'm also reminded of our discussions on this blog about former Chicago Bears defensive tackle Tommie Harris, whose production dipped dramatically after his 2007 Pro Bowl season. As the Bears waited for him to return to form over the next three seasons, it became clear: The longer a player moves away from success, the less likely he is to regain it.

Indianapolis Colts cutdown analysis

September, 3, 2011
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Check here for a complete list of the Indianapolis Colts' roster moves.

Surprise moves: Tommie Harris seemed to play well enough to stick, but the former first-round defensive tackle apparently wanted to be treated like the team’s top defensive linemen and the team didn’t like the attitude. Defensive end John Chick had solid games but couldn’t get past Jerry Hughes. Undrafted rookie tight end Mike McNeill made it, as did four others who were not April selections: running backs Darren Evans and Chad Spann, linebacker Adrian Moten and safety Joe Lefeged.

No-brainers: Veteran additions on defense made good impressions in the preseason and are sticking around -- ends Jamaal Anderson and Tyler Brayton and linebacker Ernie Sims. Anthony Gonzalez may be injury prone, but none of the other options at receiver is a better player.

What’s next: They’ve got only four defensive tackles in Fili Moala, Antonio Johnson, Eric Foster and Drake Nevis. It could be a spot where they look to add or upgrade on Foster. Offensive linemen Mike Pollak and Jamey Richard will have to prove they deserved to stick ahead of Kyle DeVan.

Denver Broncos cutdown analysis

September, 3, 2011
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Check here for a complete list of the Denver Broncos' roster moves.

Surprise move: The cuts of defensive lineman Jeremy Jarmon and safety Kyle McCarthy were unexpected. Jarmon was brought in through a trade from Washington for Jabar Gaffney. He was expected to be part of Denver’s defensive-line rotation. McCarthy was working with the first-team defense for parts of camp. But in the end, 2010 draft picks David Bruton and Darcel McBath were kept over McCarthy.

No-brainers: There was talk that Derrick Harvey could be cut. But the team needs to keep him, especially with Jarmon out. The former No. 8 overall pick from Jacksonville is needed on Denver’s tenuous line. While he probably will never live up to his lofty draft position, Harvey is solid against the run and could help Denver. Also, I’m not shocked that Denver kept only rookie tight ends Julius Thomas and Virgil Green behind starter Daniel Fells. They cut Dante Rosario and Dan Gronkowski. The Broncos really like their three tight ends.

What's next: The Broncos have the No. 2 waiver priority. Expect them to use it often. Denver probably will look at defensive linemen, cornerbacks, offensive linemen and running backs on the waiver wire. The Colts cut defensive tackle Tommie Harris. DT is Denver’s greatest need, but the Broncos might be reluctant to pursue a player who has been cut by the Bears and Colts this year. Recently cut defensive linemen Jacob Ford (Tennessee) and Marcus Harrison (Chicago) could be appealing to Denver.
A running list of Saturday cuts around the AFC South so far, per reports from people in the know…

Houston
Indianapolis
Jacksonville
Tennessee

As we await word, cut questions ...

September, 3, 2011
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Cut questions as we wait for news on who’s in and who’s out …

Houston Texans

I’ve confirmed outside linebacker Xavier Adibi will be released, which is a surprise. The Texans are going younger at the spot, which could mean good things for undrafted Bryan Braman. He is raw and probably best suited for the practice squad, but may have done too much to risk cutting first. Can Steve Slaton stick? Odds are against him as he ranks as the team’s fourth back, at best. But he’s got to be a hard guy to let go even after a preseason limited by injury. He’ll be scooped up for sure by a team in need at the position. And he likely still qualifies as one of the team’s best 53 players.

Indianapolis Colts

I know a lot of fans want to see the end for players like Donald Brown, Jerry Hughes and Anthony Gonzalez. But we must ask who are the better options? I’m not sure about Gonzalez, but I suspect that Brown and Hughes are on this team. One guy we presume to have made it who might not is veteran defensive tackle Tommie Harris. One guy we presume not to have made it who might is undrafted rookie tight end Mike McNeill.

Jacksonville Jaguars

Former sixth-round pick Scotty McGee, a return specialist, was among the cuts we learned of Friday. They also included undrafted receivers Armon Binns and Dontrelle Inman. Does that mean another receiver, Jamar Newsome, separated himself and will make it? A team that loves to keep an undrafted guy or two may not this time around. Larry Hart, a 2010 fifth-round defensive end, is probably in trouble.

Tennessee Titans

There looks to be a battle for a backup safety slot between Vincent Fuller, Robert Johnson and Anthony Smith. I wish I had a better feel and could pick a favorite there, but I can’t. It’s a tough call to whittle down from seven receivers, too. Can recent addition Kevin Curtis dislodge Justin Gage and does the team still have patience for Lavelle Hawkins? I can’t see Gage getting cut, even though he is due $3.5 million. Linebacker Rennie Curran sounded like a goner in Mike Munchak’s news conference Friday.
Reviewing Friday's action at Lucas Oil Stadium:

Green Bay Packers 24, Indianapolis Colts 21

Preseason record: (2-1)

Of interest: The Packers offense opened with a three-and-out and then shifted to its increasingly intriguing no-huddle offense. It led to a total of 10 points for the starters in the first half, including Aaron Rodgers' 18-yard touchdown pass to tight end Jermichael Finley. Rodgers finished with 204 passing yards in the first half. But the Packers walked away with plenty to work on. Rodgers continued to take more hits than you would like. Left tackle Chad Clifton struggled with defensive end Dwight Freeney, contributing to a pair of sacks and also producing a holding penalty that wiped out a 20-yard touchdown pass to Chastin West. Right guard Josh Sitton gave up a sack for the second consecutive week, this time to former Chicago Bears defensive tackle Tommie Harris. ... Tailback Ryan Grant managed 16 yards on six carries, an effort that will keep his competition with James Starks in play. Starks got only one carry but caught five passes for 38 yards. ... The first-team defense blitzed Colts quarterback Curtis Painter extensively but eventually gave up a pair of touchdowns in the second quarter. One came on a busted coverage by safety Morgan Burnett, while the other came with the always-shaky Jarrett Bush in man coverage. ... Coach Mike McCarthy worked hard to ensure this victory, however, ordering a 2-point conversion after Ryan Taylor's 11-yard touchdown reception with 35 seconds remaining. After a successful onside kick, place-kicker Mason Crosby atoned for an earlier miss with a 50-yard game-winner. ... Quarterback Graham Harrell's late-game heroics could go a long way toward making the team.

Local coverage: McCarthy said he never considered kicking an extra point after Taylor's touchdown to leave with a 1-point loss, according to Rob Demovsky of the Green Bay Press-Gazette. McCarthy: "I understand the mindset of kicking the extra point and going home a little healthier. That's a terrible message to send to your team, in my opinion. ... I thought it was a tremendous boost for our football team. I think anytime you win a game in that fashion, it's healthy." ... The Packers starters should have scored more points, Demovsky quotes right tackle Bryan Bulaga as saying. ... Players seemed tired at times as a result of the no huddle, but Clifton (via Tom Silverstein of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel) said: "There's no excuse for it. I need to play better. Our job is to perform and perform at a high level. I didn't do that tonight. I know it wasn't one of my finest performances. I'll just have to learn from it." ... Burnett admitted he was at fault in the busted coverage that led to Reggie Wayne's 57-yard touchdown. Via Tyler Dunne of the Journal Sentinel: "That was on me all the way. I should have stayed deep in my half. It's just a routine play. I need to really work on that. I can't put too much thought in it. Just need to bounce back." ... Rodgers on his touchdown pass to Finley, via Jason Wilde of ESPNMilwaukee.com: "It was two guys on the same page. It was nice to be able to have that non-verbal acknowledgement of what we're trying to do there."

Up next: Thursday against Kansas City Chiefs

With Kerry Collins on the roster and poised to take over as the primary backup to Peyton Manning, Curtis Painter fared much better working with the Colts’ offense.

In a 24-21 loss to Green Bay at Lucas Oil Stadium on Friday night, the Packers utilized one defensive element Manning typically helps Indianapolis avoid: the blitz.
Manning is masterful at making teams pay when they subtract from coverage to add to the rush. But Green Bay rolled out a steady stream of blitzes, many of which featured cornerback Charles Woodson, with no fear of such repercussions from Painter.

[+] EnlargeCurtis Painter
AP Photo/Michael ConroyWithout Peyton Manning, the Packers blitzed again and again on Curtis Painter.
Indy’s offensive line is still being sorted out, and the group didn’t do particularly well or get particularly good help in minimizing the pressure. Painter didn’t get hit so much as he had to hurry, and he was hardly at his best in such circumstances.

Desmond Bishop got flagged for roughing on one blitz, and Painter threw a ball away when Woodson looped between left tackle Anthony Castonzo and left guard Joe Reitz untouched. Another time, the quarterback made a nice throw to Reggie Wayne, who had a favorable matchup as Woodson came untouched.

No. 2 running back Donald Brown actually did reasonably well in blitz pickups, I thought, managing to keep himself between rushers and the quarterback on a couple of occasions. Still that rusher frequently contributed to a closing pocket.

The right side of the starting line, guard Ryan Diem and tackle Jeffrey Linkenbach, struggled with Clay Matthews, whose speed was more than they could handle.

Not every team is equipped to blitz the way the Packers are. But if it’s Collins instead of Manning on Sept. 11 in Houston, odds are the Texans will blitz more often and with less fear. And the Colts and Collins will have to be prepared to handle it.

Some other thoughts on what was nearly a rare Colts preseason win:

  • While Painter was better, it took a blown coverage that left Wayne wide open for a 57-yard touchdown to get him going. His second touchdown pass, to Chris Brooks, was very nice. Earlier Painter suffered because of a drop by Wayne and another by Pierre Garcon.
  • Ernie Sims was active in a lot of first-half action, his first since he signed with the Colts. Tommie Harris played for the second time, and made some plays with a sack and a tipped pass.
  • Jermichael Finley's touchdown catch on Pat Angerer was great. Angerer was tight but not turned. There aren’t many linebackers who could make a play against that.
  • According to CBS, Robert Mathis injured his hamstring in the first quarter hamstring and did not return. His counterpart at end, Dwight Freeney, made things very difficult on Green Bay tackle Chad Clifton, bulling over him a few times before using the patented spin move.
  • Diem, who false started too much last season at right guard, got called for one. An injury forced him from the game for a time, but he returned to action. Mike Pollak stepped in briefly. Jeff Saturday was the lone offensive lineman who didn’t play into the third quarter, as Pollak replaced him. Then the second-team offensive line was, left to right, Michael Toudouze, Kyle DeVan, Jamey Richard, Mike Tepper and Ben Ijalana. Richard was flagged for holding but it was declined.
  • I expect good things out of rookie running back Delone Carter, mostly because I very much like the idea of Carter. This team needs a short-yardage goal-line back. He was hardly working against front line defenders, I understand. But he not only got a tough yard -- converting a third-and-1 when there was nothing there -- but he had a couple of nice longer runs. A lost fumble was overturned by challenge, and a wide run with a spin move suggested he can be more than just a between-the-tackles pounder. He did look lost in one pass-protection situation.
  • Defensive back Chip Vaughn was waved off the field by Jim Caldwell after back-to-back penalties. After an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty worth 15 yards and a taunting penalty worth 11 yards, the Colts gave up a touchdown and a two-point conversion, lost an onside kick and saw Green Bay move to a game-winning field goal. Vaughn will not have a good weekend. And the Colts just about refuse to win in the preseason.

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