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Thursday, April 15, 2021

Changes and consistency

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expected from Colts offense

By BARATO BRITT

The only thing constant in life is change.

Life in the NFL is no different, as the defending Super Bowl Champion Indianapolis Colts’ offense will experience for the second consecutive year.

Just a season removed from adjusting to life without running back Edgerrin James, the offense finds itself searching for solutions to a position they have not had to address in almost a decade.

Entering its title defense campaign without left tackle Tarik Glenn, who announced his retirement just before the start of training camp, Glenn’s sudden announcement sparked immediate concern. However, with this established system led by future Hall of Famers and perennial Pro Bowlers, the adjustment has not changed expectations.

“There will be a challenge for us because Tarik’s been such a great player for us for so many years,” said quarterback Peyton Manning. “Young guys or new guys will have to step up and I believe they will.”

The young guys in question, rookie Tony Ugoh and second year lineman Charlie Johnson, are fully aware of the gargantuan shoes they will be required to fill. Securing Manning’s left side, not to mention opening holes for now full-time starting running back Joseph Addai will be no easy task.

Ugoh spent considerable time with the starters during week one of camp, but Johnson is prepared to give the coaching staff a lot to think about before a decision is made on Glenn’s replacement.

“Coming in, my mindset is that it’s my job to lose,” Johnson said.

Whoever is the opening day starter, they will have the bonus of working alongside one of the best units in the league. Pro Bowl center Jeff Saturday, who has started on the line for seven years, is relishing the challenge of bringing one of the new guys into the fold.

“We’re just getting started, but I think they’re doing a very good job,” Saturday said.

The offensive line’s approach to change is being replicated at the receiver position, where rookie Anthony Gonzalez will likely fill the slot role vacated by Brandon Stokley. Officially into his own having gained Pro Bowl status last year, Reggie Wayne approaches the new guy as he was groomed, with clear expectations on the rookie to find his way and help keep the offense rolling.

“I’ve been taking it easy on him,” Wayne joked. “He’s got a million things being thrown at him right now. So once he gets a little comfortable, then I’ll give him something. You’ve got (wide receivers coach) Clyde Christensen telling him something then you got (offensive coordinator) Tom Moore telling him something, you feel like you’re in calculus class.”

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