Don't ask Bob Sanders about the future.
ANDERSON, Ind. -- Just ask him about tomorrow. The 2007 Defensive Player of the Year has missed more NFL games due to injury (49) than games he's played (47) since entering the league in 2004. "I don't look too far ahead, because it's a tough game to try to prevent injuries,'' he told me. "So I don't think about whether I can play 16 games.''
He never has played a full year in his six NFL seasons; either knee or biceps injuries have dogged him. But he looked fluid and fast one day in practice last week. I don't expect him to play healthy for four months -- I don't think the Colts do either, deep down -- but Sanders, who has been removed from team activities often in the last few seasons as he rehabbed, was in the offseason program and more engaged with teammates this offseason.
Odd perfectionist point made by the son of a steelworker from Erie, Pa.: "After the season I won defensive player of the year, I went back and looked at the film and I realized I wasn't as good as everyone thought I was. I did. I Iooked at the film and I'm my worst critic. And I really feel like there were a lot of things that I made a lot of mistakes on or I could've done better. There were interceptions and forced fumbles and stuff I left out on the field that I felt like, like, wow, I won defensive player of the year but I feel like I haven't even reached my potential. I have a lot of work left to do. I still feel the same way. I would never feel like I've made it, I've arrived and I'm this great player and I can't get any better.''
If I were coaching, I'd split the strong safety job between Sanders and Melvin Bullitt.
It's August, and the Giants again have the best defensive front in football.
ALBANY, N.Y. -- You see how far that got them last year. Too many injuries last season, from the start. Chris Canty, the rich free agent, and Rocky Bernard and Fred Robbins. Once the season began, Justin Tuck got dinged, and Osi Umenyiora got trashed inside and outside the building. It was pretty much a disaster.
This year, new defensive coordinator Perry Fewell has lots of toys to play with, and the Giants could play some of the most interesting line combinations the league has ever seen. Fewell has experimented with rushing four defensive ends -- from among Tuck, Umenyiora (up to 257 from 250), Mathias Kiwanuka, first-round pick Jason Pierre-Paul and Dave Tollefson, who is having a great camp -- with no tackles on some passing downs. Tuck is playing all four line spots in practice. Canty's playing all over the line too. "So far it looks good,'' Umenyiora said.
The Giants won the Super Bowl three season ago by sending blitzers through the A gap (over and around the center) as well as around end. This year, they're experimenting with sending different end/tackle and end-end combinations from everywhere. A healthy Giants team will create more problems than any defensive front except the maniacally variable Jets.
Kevin Kolb looks good taking control.
BETHLEHEM, Pa. -- I watched the coach's tape of Kolb's six-of-11 performance against the Jaguars Friday night and took notice of how comfortable he looked leaving the pocket and throwing to targets on the run -- or scrambling when the play wasn't there. On his first third down, he circled back out of the backfield, pressured, and ran left, his primary receiver running free on a cross to the right of the formation. Knowing he'd be stepping up into the rush and throwing across his body, Kolb just ran to the left boundary and made the first down. He looked like the coach's son that he is, like he'd been prepping for this day for a couple of decades, not a couple of years.
"We practice throwing off-balance,'' Kolb said after practice at Lehigh Sunday. "The good thing about playing here is that you go against this defense every day, and they bring a lot of different looks. And we know there're plays that are there to be made. When it comes game time and defenses want to bring the heat, then we'll gash 'em.''
Looks like Kolb is forming a nice bond with one of the rookie receivers, fifth-round pick Riley Cooper from Florida. He was one of Tim Tebow's favorites at Florida. Speaking of Tebow ...
A shaky debut in Cincinnati for Tebow.
I saw nothing but the highlights of Tim Tebow's eight-for-13 opener Sunday night at Paul Brown Stadium. Three thoughts: He has to have better awareness of the pressure around him and make quicker decisions when that pressure's there ... The mechanics he worked so diligently to refine in the spring looked inconsistent to me; the sooner they become rote, the better he'll play, obviously ... His early downfield throw, a perfect 45-yard strike, was dropped. But he missed two open receivers too, so clearly he could have played better.
It's almost certain Tebow will be the number two quarterback to Kyle Orton, almost regardless of how Brady Quinn plays (poorly Sunday night), because coach Josh McDaniels is going to want to use Tebow in some goal-line and Wildcat plays at different spots on the field. As far as the mechanics, the Broncos have decided not to spend time during the season working on them the way he did in the spring; then, quarterbacks coach Ben McDaniels -- the head coach's brother -- would take Tebow aside three or four times a week and work for 50 to 60 minutes a session refining the long windup and delivery Tebow had. Josh McDaniels' theory is he wants Tebow working on the plays he's being taught, not continually thinking about his arm movements. Tebow's going to have a chance to play the way all Wildcats quarterbacks do. How much he plays depends on how he performs.