Tag:Indianapolis Colts
Posted on: February 25, 2012 12:29 pm
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Irsay met with Peyton in the 'last week or so'

Irsay says he and Manning have met in the 'last week or so.' (Getty Images)
By Will Brinson

INDIANAPOLIS -- There's been plenty of speculation and talk about Peyton Manning this week in Indy, but not much of it coming from Colts owner Jim Irsay. That's surprising given that Irsay couldn't stop talking about Manning during the Super Bowl.

He couldn't quite make it to the end of the 2012 NFL combine without discussing Peyton, tweeting (of course) on Saturday around lunch that he and Peyton have "communicated frequently" in the last week or so. To the [sic]-mobile:

"Not sure why some speculate that Peyton n I haven't met in person recently..we've met in person n communicated frequently n last week or so," Irsay tweeted. "As we have in the last month."

We're not sure where the "Peyton and Irsay aren't talking" speculation is coming from. The only real speculation surrounding Manning the past few days has involved teams other than the Colts, with Arizona's front office not denying their potential interest in Manning, and Rex Ryan doing the same thing.

Oh, and fans in Miami who really like Peyton; but still, other teams. It's not unusual, though, for Irsay to tweet about rumors that we haven't actually heard. And it's just further proof that this saga becomes more and more convoluted as March 8 gets nearer and nearer.

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Posted on: February 24, 2012 8:43 pm
 

Luck would 'absolutely' play behind Manning

Luck and RG3 both said they'd be willing to sit behind Manning next season. (AP)

By Ryan Wilson

Even if they're not throwing this weekend, Andrew Luck and Robert Griffin III are saying all the right things at the combine. Two months from the NFL Draft, they're considered the two best quarterbacks, and there's the strong possibility that both are off the board with the first two picks.

Most people -- from fans half-paying attention to draft experts -- expect the Colts to take Luck first overall. The former Stanford star has been called the best prospect since John Elway. Given all the upheaval in Indianapolis right now -- from the new front office and coaching staff to the speculation that Peyton Manning could be released in the coming weeks ahead of a $28 million roster bonus -- there's also reason to believe that Luck, like Manning in 1998, would be the starter from Day 1.

Despite the writing on the wall, Colts owner Jim Irsay said recently that he "would love to have" Manning back in Indy. We're guessing those comments were more PR cover than heartfelt, but either way, Luck was asked Friday about the possibility of playing behind Peyton next season.

“If I have the opportunity to learn from a guy like that, of course you’re going to take advantage of it," he said. "Absolutely. … Peyton was my football hero. That’s who I modeled myself after," he continued. "You never replace a guy like that."

Except you do replace a guy like that, perhaps soon. And many Colts fans accepted that reality when the team was on it's way to a 2-14 season without Manning, who had multiple neck surgeries in recent years and his football-playing future is still in question.

There's also this: the organization is free to sign Luck starting Friday.

Griffin, who sported Ninja Turtle socks when he spoke with the media Friday, was also asked about playing behind Manning.

"Yeah I would embrace it," he said according to CBSSports.com's Will Brinson, who is in Indianapolis this week. "It's not very often you get chances to play -- or be on a team -- with a legend like that and learn from a guy like Peyton.

"Definitely I'd come in and compete to try and be the starter, but I wouldn't be upset if Peyton was the starting quarterback of the team I'm on. It would be an honor to sit behind him. I'd hold that clipboard with pride. I'm not going to come in and demand to be the starter."

It's a fantastic answer to questions that are likely irrelevant. We suppose there is some small probability that Manning could return, but all indications are that he's taken his last snap for the Colts.

"Who knows what happens?” Luck asked Friday.

Irsay does, that's who. And we're guessing Luck will be under center when the Colts take the field in Week 1 of the 2012 season.

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Posted on: February 24, 2012 1:45 am
 

2012 NFL Combine Day 1: Winners and losers

Whatever you say, Mr. Ryan. (Getty Images)
By Will Brinson

INDIANAPOLIS -- Forgive us for not primarily focusing on draft-related players in this edition of knee-jerk judgments. But on the first day of the NFL combine, there were relatively few players of note to talk to; none of the interior linemen made appearances with the media, there were some lonely kickers and punters present, and not all of the tight ends showed up.

Most of the media sessions were spent chatting up various general manages and coaches, every single one of whom was asked about Peyton Manning and/or Andrew Luck. Or their own quarterback.

Winners

Andrew Luck: Luck isn't even in Indianapolis yet (that we know of) and he's already getting swooned over, as Mike Freeman wrote earlier on Thursday. The only flaw that people can find is his arm strength, and even that's a stretch. More good news is that his former coach, Jim Harbaugh, thinks he'll handle the pressure of all the expectations surrounding him just fine. Don't expect the hypemobile to drop speed between now and late April.

St. Louis Rams
: On Thursday night, we told a St. Louis radio station that Jeff Fisher would be sitting back and smoking a cigar by the time Robert Griffin III finished running his 40-yard dash. That's because Fisher and the Rams will be holding an auction for Griffin, the clear-cut, second-best (if second ...) quarterback in the draft. Everyone in Indy's glowing about the kid and he hasn't arrived yet either. And everyone interested should get involved. If the Browns, Dolphins and Redskins don't get involved, they're doing themselves a disservice, because RG3 is going to good in the NFL. Make the move, pay the picks and reap the benefits. Fisher's willing to do just that.

Green Bay Packers: There seems to be a lot of speculation about teams wanting Packers backup quarterback Matt Flynn around Indy right now. (The Browns, Dolphins and Seahawks could all be interested parties.) Now that Green Bay's locked up Jermichael Finley for two more years, they can, if they want, apply the franchise tag to Flynn and then trade him for the best offer they get from one of the interested teams. As long as they get more than whatever the compensatory pick would be, they win in this deal.

Pittsburgh Steelers: Shortly after Kevin Colbert stated that he wanted wide receiver Mike Wallace to retire as a Steeler, Pittsburgh managed to restructure Ben Roethlisberger's contract. Making Ben more expensive in the future might not help in the future, but it means right now the Steelers can keep Mike Wallace. The No. 1 wideout in Pittsburgh's gotten flak as the heat's cranked up on the possibility of him leaving, but the fact remains that he's the team's best wideout. Antonio Brown is a stud -- the only guy who we know that loves Brown more than we do is fantasy expert Dave Richard -- and he'll keep improving. But Brown doesn't become team MVP without Wallace keeping top cornerbacks away from his side of the field.

LaRon Landry: Holy muscles, Batman. Did he hijack Ryan Braun's FedEx package or something? We kid, we kid. (But no, seriously: we're joking.) On the first day of young football playing fellas flexing their muscles for the public, Landry stole the show with his ripped Twitter pics.

Losers

Jonathan Martin: Forgive us for not loving everyone out of Stanford, or for not giving Martin credit for having confidence. But the athletic offensive tackle won't be participating in most of the drills at the combine, because of food poisoning. (We asked him what he ate, and he didn't remember, but said it was in Arizona. Fear not, consumers of spicy shrimp cocktails.) Martin also repeatedly said he's the best tackle available in the draft, and said "without a doubt" he's better than Matt Kalil. Competition is fun, and confidence is good, but we're not sure why he's talking a big game if he's not participating in the drills.

Mark Sanchez: As Clark Judge noted, "Sanchez should be worried." That's because Rex Ryan came out and made no bold guarantees (a staple of the combine for Ryan) regarding the job security of his starting quarterback. It's OK for Rex to downplay the interest the Jets could have in Peyton Manning; Manning's not a free agent yet, and there are roughly 25 NFL teams that will at least discuss what Manning could do to their franchise. But the lack of guarantees for Sanchez during a tumultuous offseason should be concerning for the Jets current starting quarterback.

Kevin Kolb: Like Sanchez, Kolb didn't exactly get ringing endorsements from the guys who cut his checks. Ken Whisenhunt and Rod Graves didn't explicitly say they'd think about dumping Kolb (due a roster bonus on March 17) if Manning became available, but they sure didn't slam the door on the idea. 

Tight Ends: This is the new position that's redefining the NFL, right? Well, um, here's the problem (as also noted by CBSSports.com's own Pete Prisco): where were these guys during their big combine day? Rob Gronkowski was the story during the Super Bowl, and for a week after. Jimmy Graham shattered records. Vernon Davis was the guy who made Alex Smith great. And Orson Charles, the third-rated tight end by NFLDraftScout.com, said he's happy to sit and learn behind someone like Tony Gonzalez?Love the attitude. Love it, and Gonzo's the man. But if you're a coming into college and someone tries to steer you away from playing tight end in college, don't listen to them. Or listen to them and stop playing basketball?

Stevie Johnson: We've thought he'd get the franchise tag from Buffalo at minimum. But in listening to Bills head coach Chan Gailey, that's just not happening. Or it might; but Gailey's description of Johnson was quintessential "we're sorry to lose Stevie." He said he wouldn't miss Stevie until Stevie was gone and then cited the "business" of the game. Those aren't the words of a coach who's pumped to be celebrating a new contract for his franchise wideout.

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Posted on: February 23, 2012 7:54 pm
 

Harbaugh on Luck: 'He's got all the qualities'

Breaking news: Jim Harbaugh loves Andrew Luck. (Getty Images)
By Will Brinson

INDIANAPOLIS -- There's a weird bit of symmetry going on in Indy for 49ers coach Jim Harbaugh. He spent Wednesday night sitting on the bench with his brother-in-law, Indiana Hoosiers coach Tom Crean, and several of Harbaugh's former players at Stanford are prominent prospects for the 2012 NFL Draft.

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Perhaps you've heard of one of them: Andrew Luck. Luck is, according to what one scout told Mike Freeman, "almost the perfect prospect." While Harbaugh wasn't quite as effusive with his praise of Luck, he's clearly enamored with the former Stanford quarterback.

"You ever play spades?" Harbaugh asked a confused-looking crowd of reporters. "It's a trump game? He's holding a lot of aces in a lot of suits."

Harbaugh, in case you're wondering, is having fun this week. He continued to have fun with the media, bantering back and forth with a group of reporters "looking for bullet points" about his former pupil.

"He's got all the qualities, really, mentally, physically," Harbaugh said. "He's really good? How about that one? He's got a lot of talent."

Hooray for platitudes! But, no, seriously, Jim. People are putting a lot of pressure on Luck, who's been deemed the best thing since Peyton Manning supplanted sliced bread (and Harbaugh himself, actually) as the greatest thing on the planet. Is it fair?

"Fair or unfair, it's the nature of the business," Harbaugh said. "And he's very equipped to deal with. He's very mature."

Luck's definitely mature. We spoke to him at the Super Bowl and even in a few minutes, it's clear just how measured he is in his responses, without being contrite in the slightest. That doesn't make his task -- which is almost certainly going to be "filling Peyton's shoes" -- any easier. But if anyone's going to be able to do it, it's Luck.

Just ask Jim Harbaugh. Or don't.

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Posted on: February 23, 2012 2:03 pm
Edited on: February 23, 2012 2:08 pm
 

Cardinals won't shut the door on Peyton Manning

Eye on Football Illustration (Getty Images)
By Will Brinson

INDIANAPOLIS -- The Cardinals, despite having Kevin Kolb and John Skelton on their roster, are considered a candidate to land Peyton Manning if/when he's released by the Colts. CBS Sports Charley Casserly first talked about this way back in January, and with Arizona's freedom to get out of Kolb's contract before March 17, speculation has only increased.

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Ken Whisenhunt and GM Rod Graves, speaking Thursday at the NFL combine, did nothing to quell that speculation, leaving the door wide open for the possibility of making a change at quarterback.

"We're about opportunities to get better," Graves said when asked about the Cardinals depth at quarterback. "Everyone out there associated with our team understands that this is a competitive game and we're all looking to get better. So if those opportunities present themselves, so be it. Otherwise we've got an outstanding group of quarterbacks right now.

"We believe we can win with those quarterbacks and we're preparing as if they're going to be the group we're working with and we'll see what other opportunities present themselves if that happens."

So what about the bonus due to Kolb on March 17? Have the Cardinals talked about whether or not they're going to exercise it?

"No, we haven't had any discussions about that," Whisenhunt, not looking entirely pleased to be asked about it, said.

Graves was less direct about the discussions surrounding the Kolb decision, but also made it pretty clear (without being too precise) that the Cardinals will explore options if and when they become available.

"Every day you have to work with the information you have at hand," Graves said. "Right now as I look at it, we fully expect that Kevin's going to be with us so we'll honor the contract as it is, obviously. But we'll see what every day brings forward and we'll make that decision accordingly. Right now, as it stands today, we're not anticipating anything different."

Based on what Whisenhunt and Graves said, it's unfair to simply state that the Cardinals will ditch Kolb and chase Manning. But it's also pretty clear that such a process is something they haven't ruled out as of right now.

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Posted on: February 23, 2012 1:15 pm
Edited on: February 23, 2012 4:31 pm
 

Bill Polian explains why Colts struggled in 2011

One man's opinion: injuries conspired to sink Indy's season in 2011. (US PRESSWIRE)

By Ryan Wilson

The Colts won two games in 2011. Two days into 2012, owner Jim Irsay began the house-cleaning by firing team president Bill Polian and his son, general manager Chris Polian. The front office had come under scrutiny after quarterback Peyton Manning began the season on the sidelines while he recovered from multiple neck surgeries and the team had no viable backup to replace him.

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Then there are the swings and misses with recent first-round picks that had taken some of the luster off the elder Polians' impressive roster-building resume. Excluding Anthony Castonzo, Indy's 2011 first-rounder, Polian is on the hook for Jerry Hughes ('10), Donald Brown ('09), Anthony Gonzalez ('07), and Marlin Jackson ('05), all players who have, for various reasons, failed to live up to expectations.

On Thursday, almost two months after Polian was fired, he spoke to the media about where it all went wrong. The Boston Herald's Ian Rapoport asked Polian what he learned about team-building after Manning's injury kept him in civvies on game day.

“No. 1, don’t have injuries,” he said. “And don’t have them in big bunches, either, specifically not the offensive line. And six starters on defense. You can’t overcome that. You don’t use injuries as an excuse or a crutch during the season, but when you lose, I think we lost nine starters, excluding Peyton for the bulk of the season, you can’t overcome that. That’s just the perfect storm.”

Hmm. Here's what we got from Polian: Don't use injuries as an excuse or a crutch during the season, but after the season it's fine.

Look, injuries make it that much more difficult to win in the NFL, but it's not impossible. The Packers suffered a ton of injuries in 2010, slipped into the playoffs as a No. 6 seed and won the Super Bowl. The Patriots, Giants and Steelers also lost a number of key players this season and all three teams made the playoffs, and two made it to the championship game.

Polian also admitted that the quarterback situation behind Manning was a fiasco.

“From the backup quarterback standpoint, I’ve said all along, I thought that we probably, I probably could’ve done a better job of building up that position,” he said via Rapoport. “But it wasn’t for lack of trying. We tried very hard once we knew that Peyton was going to be a long-term situation to try to make a deal for an established quarterback, but we couldn’t do it.”

Again with the qualifications -- "It wasn't from the lack of trying!" and "We tried very hard!" This isn't Pop Warner where everybody gets a trophy and trying hard is all that matters. In the NFL, players and coaches are judged on one thing: results. Ultimately, Irsay judged Polian, too, and it cost him his job. Polian did admit, however, that he has a newfound respect for what the Patriots pulled off in 2008, when Tom Brady went down in Week 1 and Matt Cassel stepped in and went 11-5 (although New England missed the playoffs).

“Well, they did a nice job,” he said. “They did a nice job. But they didn’t have… they had a great defense to go along with it, we did not. Much of it was lost to injury over the course of the season. That’s the difference between the two.”

Remind us: whose fault was it that the Colts' defense wasn't very good?

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Posted on: February 23, 2012 10:15 am
Edited on: February 23, 2012 10:28 am
 

Colts could sign Luck as soon as Friday

Luck appears to be the future in Indy, the only question is when. (US PRESSWIRE)

By Ryan Wilson

The road to the first-overall pick isn't a smooth one. There's all the losing, the waning fan interest, the almost certain turnover on the coaching staff and the roster. But once the offseason arrives and the new faces are in place, hope is renewed.

Now that Colts fans seem to have accepted that Peyton Manning's best days are behind him and Andrew Luck is the future, there are reasons for optimism. Typically, the NFL Draft takes place on the last weekend of April, but the Colts, should they choose, can sign Luck (or any other draft-eligible player) as early as … Friday. NFL spokesman Greg Aiello tells PFT that after a pair of coin flips locks in the draft order, Indianapolis can ink Luck to a contract.

NFL Draft prep
Greasing the skids: the new CBA includes a rookie wage scale which means that holdouts are much less likely since there isn't much to negotiate. One of the benefits to doing this sooner than later: it will officially close the book on the Manning era, something owner Jim Irsay is probably eager to do, and the focus would be on Luck, the Colts' next franchise quarterback.

(Then again, maybe Irsay wasn't joking when he said he "would love to have Manning back.")

Should Indy sign Luck before the draft, however, it doesn't mean that the Rams would immediately be on the clock with the No. 2 pick. Aiello explains that only the team holding the first-overall selection has that option.

This is good news for the Browns, Redskins and any other outfit in the market for Robert Griffin III, who is expected to go as high as second overall. It's also good news for the Rams because they'll be able to trade out of the pick and improve their roster in the process.

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Posted on: February 21, 2012 8:25 pm
 

Pick-6 Podcast: Ranking the free-agent QBs

Will Peyton end up in the Valley of the Sun?(CBSSports.com illustration)

By Will Brinson & Ryan Wilson

The old saying goes something like this: yes, it's officially the NFL offseason but there really is no offseason. The Giants won the Super Bowl a few weeks ago but teams can already franchise would-be free agents, the combine begins this week and free agency the week after.

There are plenty of storylines, and Peyton Manning's future is among the biggest. On the latest Pick-6 Podcast, we talk whether the Arizona Cardinals make the most sense for Manning (he does look dashing in red), and where the other free-agent quarterbacks (Matt Flynn, Kyle Orton, Jason Campbell, Chad Henne) might end up this spring.

The conversation then turns to Big Ben and Todd Haley, and a possible theory for why the Steelers could let Mike Wallace leave as a restricted free agent.

(Did we mention that you should subscribe to the podcast via iTunes? And if you can't listen to the podcast below, download it here. And if you'd like to keep working while listening in your browser, pop that puppy out in a new tab here.)


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The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com