With the Indianapolis Colts set to kick off their preseason schedule this coming Saturday with a game against the San Francisco 49ers at Lucas Oil Stadium, I made my way up to Anderson University to see how the beloved home team was shaping up for 2010 season.
After spending the past 11 Training Camps in Terre Haute, Indiana on the Campus of Rose Hulman Institute of Technology, Colts owner Jim Irsay decided to move camp back to Anderson, Indiana, where the Colts spent their first 15 seasons in Indianapolis training. Immediately after turning off I-69 onto Scatterfield Road, it was quite apparent the townspeople were excited and much appreciative of Irsay’s decision.
I had visited the Colts Training Camp while it was held in Terre Haute, and while there was a decent crowd on hand, it wasn’t a jam-packed affair. Considering the practice I attended was a weekday session at 9:30 in the morning, I figured it’d be a similar situation in Anderson.
I figured wrong. Way wrong.
Upon pulling into the campus and paying my $5 for parking, I was amazed to find crowds of people, all adorned in Colts blue, streaming towards the football stadium.
There was, in fact, and entire “Colts City” set up just outside the practice field.
Featuring everything from a giant inflatable slide to a portable Colts Pro Shop, “Colts City” had something for fans of all age levels and preferences.
I finally made my way into the stadium, and was amazed to find the bleachers completely filled. Not a single seat to be found in the entire place.
It wasn’t much better at field level, but I was able to zig, zag, and squeeze my way through the shrieking children and gawking spectators to catch some actual practice action. The first thing I noticed was Peyton Manning and his Darth Vader helmet.
Though his look was bit off-putting, you could tell he was already in mid-season form: Calling audibles…
Running his patented play action…
Throwing pinpoint passes in a slightly awkward manner…
And of course, graciously signing autographs for the fervent Colts fan base.
It wasn’t all about Peyton though. Curtis Painter got some much needed work against the first team defense.
Though it’s nearly impossible for the casual fan to gauge a players performance when there’s no pads or hitting involved, that didn’t stop those in attendance from criticizing his ability and cracking the obligatory “Thanks for the Jets game” joke. And it didn’t stop me from laughing when it was said.
Although the on-field action was uneventful in terms of actual football plays, I was still able to witness various interactions and alignments. Among the more interesting included:
Bill Polian, looking as wise and curmudgeonly as ever, was in attendance and — surprise, surprise — chatting up the practice officials. No doubt reminding them of some obscure rule that was wrongly called against the Colts in a game five years ago.
Polian spent much of practice seated on a golf cart with a familiar looking bald fellow. It took me a minute, but I finally realized it was the newly “retired” Howard Mudd, the Colts longtime offensive line coach. I found this strange because a week ago Mudd was spotted at New Orleans’ training camp wearing Saints gear and teaching blocking fundamentals. I joked at the time that Polian had sent him on a recon mission. Perhaps I wasn’t that far off.
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