Long the picture of stability, the Colts suddenly face big changes
The Colts have a new coach and Peyton Manning will be throwing to new receivers
It represents a big change for a team that's made seven straight playoff trips
With Marvin Harrison gone, Reggie Wayne officially becomes the No. 1 receiver
TERRE HAUTE, Ind. -- Dispatches from the Colts training camp at Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology, where I'm intrigued by the idea of a highly acclaimed engineering school like this fielding a Division III football team. (Just wondering, but does that bring all new meaning to the term "rebuilding program?") ...
When you're the Indianapolis Colts, and the status quo has been very, very good to you this decade, any change can probably feel like a pretty big change. For what seems like forever, the Colts have meant Tony Dungy on the sidelines, Peyton Manning in the pocket, Marvin Harrison and Reggie Wayne split wide. Oh, and at least 12 wins and a playoff trip every year.
But this year, there's no Dungy, no Harrison and no complete sense of familiarity for the team that has an NFL-best seven-year streak of playoff berths. For a change, change is a topic in Colts' training camp.
One longtime NFL quarterback I know always liked to remind everyone how "the train keeps moving'' in the league, with players and coaches constantly either coming or going, and it's true. Nothing lasts forever, not even in Indy. Turning the page and moving on is the mantra every year in training camps all across the NFL map, and the Colts are getting their own dose of it in 2009.
But maybe because of how transitory the league has become, I loved what Manning had to say to me on the topic of change Wednesday, in his attempt to neither forget where his team has been, nor delay where it's going.
"One thing (new head coach Jim) Caldwell talked about at the start of camp was we can't look in the past, we've got to live in the now,'' said Manning, after a morning practice and just before an ESPN The Magazine cover shoot. "Although I'm kind of one of those old-school guys, I guess. We've had players whose pictures were on the wall by our meeting rooms, and all of sudden they're released, and the picture is down and it's like the guy never played here. I'm one of those who kind of likes to linger on things a little bit. I just never want to forget the impact the guy made on your team.''
OK, so they're not removing all pictures of Dungy and Harrison from the Colts' team complex any time soon, but you get No. 18's point. You have to turn the page in this sport, but do you have to do it in five minutes?
Manning completed an NFL-record 953 passes to Harrison since they first joined forces in 1998, and with Dungy he won his only Super Bowl ring so far, in that storybook 4-0 playoff run after the 2006 regular season. That's a lot of history that walked out the door in Indy this offseason, and Manning, on day three of this summer's training camp, is at least acknowledging the obvious. Things are different. Not all new, just different. It's OK to say it.
"This is a little bit of a change, and you kind of go to the meetings not knowing what you're going to get,'' Manning said. "Whereas in the past, you knew what to expect. Guys get a little more juices flowing, I guess. It can be good. The key is we want to build on the impact that Tony and Marvin made and be better for their contributions.
"At the same time, I think the sooner we get comfortable with Coach Caldwell and get comfortable with (new starting receiver Anthony) Gonzalez -- and that's the two biggest changes for me -- then the better off we'll be.''
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