The Herald Bulletin

Afternoon Update

Sports

August 7, 2010

Colts' O-Line in flux

ANDERSON, Ind. — There’s a reason why coaches say that lineups are “penciled in,” and that was on display Saturday with the first team offensive line for the Indianapolis Colts on Saturday.

Coming in to training camp this year, the prohibitive belief was the starting offensive line would have veteran Jeff Saturday at center, Charlie Johnson and Ryan Diem at the tackle positions and the guards would be Kyle DeVan and Mike Pollack.

That wasn’t the unit that took to the field at Macholtz Stadium for the team’s annual full-squad scrimmage.

Saturday and Pollack were lining up in front of quarterback Peyton Manning, after that the remaining trio of hopeful starters heading into camp were either on the sidelines wearing a ballcap or nowhere to be seen.

Diem, a 10-year veteran, had been absent since Friday as he and his wife welcome a new baby into the family. Johnson suffered a right foot injury during Friday evening’s practice, the severity of which is still undetermined, and was kept out for precautionary reasons. DeVan and backup guard Tony Ugoh also were kept out of practice Saturday.

Andy Alleman, who is battling for playing time at guard, also was out of Saturday’s session.

“(Alleman) tweaked his back a little bit, he kind of got caught in an awkward position,” Colts coach Jim Caldwell said. “He’s being evaluated, and we’ll know more in the next 24 hours.”

The remaining three spots with the first unit were filled by guard Jamey Richard and tackles Jeff Linkenbach and Adam Terry.

Two other departures took place before offseason conditioning programs had begun. Longtime coach Howard Mudd retired after last season, and guard Ryan Lilja was released in March and signed with the Kansas City Chiefs.

The new offensive line coach is Pete Metzelaars, who played tight end for in the NFL for 16 years with four teams. Ron Prince is the assistant offensive line coach.

Metzelaars received an endorsement from his predecessor when Mudd paid a visit to camp Friday.

“They’re going to be just fine,” Mudd said.

“Pete worked with Howard for an extended period of time. We have not had any major schematic changes, so basically the same things he has been doing for quite a few years,” Caldwell said. “Howard did a great job, I think, of bringing Pete along, giving him an opportunity to express himself during the course of the meetings and also (to) teach and instruct.”

The biggest judge of the stability and success of the Colts offensive might just might be the franchise quarterback. Manning’s thought on the topic of Metzelaars replacing Mudd was to let time reveal all the answers.

“I think it’s certainly early to answer a question like that. You’re talking about a guy who was here 12 years and a guy who’s been the offensive line coach for a couple months now,” Manning said. “I have to say, though, I think it is kind of a one-two punch. You know Ron Prince, who is the assistant offensive line coach, is going to kind of play a role, and Coach Caldwell has given him and Pete certain kind of assignments, and I think the two of them together is going to be different. Anytime you have a different coach in any capacity there’s going to be a change there, but I think the linemen are getting used to working with those two. I know I certainly am, and it’s up to the players to make it work.”

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