TERRE HAUTE, Ind. -- Observations from Colts camp:
1. A year ago, the Colts split the carries between running backs Joseph Addai and Dominic Rhodes, and it helped them win a Super Bowl. Now Rhodes is gone, leaving Addai to share carries with -- whom? Well, take your pick. There is DeDe Dorsey, a free-agent pickup who played in 13 games -- mostly on special teams -- last season. Then there's rookie Clifton Dawson, the Ivy League career rushing leader at Harvard. Or Kenton Keith. A concern? Not to these guys. They were so confident in what they have didn't draft a running back. "We think we have that back," said president Bill Polian. "He doesn't have to carry the ball 50 percent of the time. He needs to carry it 25 or 20."
2. Leading tackler Cato June's position will be taken by second-year pro Freddie Keiaho, the Colts' third-round pick in 2006, and no one here expects a dropoff. For one, Keiaho has considerable ability. In his only start last season, he stepped in for the injured Gary Brackett at middle linebacker and produced seven tackles in a defeat of New England. Second, the Colts have a history of replacing linebackers without suffering setbacks. Third, and most important, Keiaho is as confident as the coaches and teammates who praise him. "I put pressure on myself because I don't want to let any of these guys down," said Keiaho. "To go back to the huddle and say, 'Sorry, guys' -– that's not acceptable."
3. Marlin Jackson and Kelvin Hayden step in as starting cornerbacks for Nick Harper and Jason David, both of whom left as free agents. The temptation is to mention this as a trouble spot that could bite the Colts -- particularly with the passing attacks of AFC threats like New England, Cincinnati, San Diego and Denver. But Jackson made the key interception in the conference championship game against the Patriots, and Hayden returned an interception for a touchdown in Super Bowl XLI. "We drafted them feeling like they were going to be good players who could step in," said coach Tony Dungy. Now is there chance. The move reminds me of something Philadelphia did in 2004, when it let cornerbacks Troy Vincent and Bobby Taylor walk, replacing them with Lito Sheppard and Sheldon Brown. Result: The Eagles went to the Super Bowl.
4. Now that he's the league's highest-paid defensive player, expect no changes in defensive end Dwight Freeney. He insists he has nothing to prove, despite his sacks dropping to a career low last year. "I prove myself every time I go out," Freeney said. "I perform and create havoc. I get to the quarterback, and I create pressure." Freeney, one of the league's best interviews, was more of a force last season than people think. While his sacks declined, his pressures went up to a team-high 33. He also had four forced fumbles. But here is something to consider: Opponents threw less against the Colts than they did the year before. Or the year before that. In fact, the Colts had fewer passes attempted against them than anyone but Oakland, and that happens when you have the league's 32nd-ranked run defense. "People don't understand," said Freeney. "There were some games where (opponents) threw something like 13 passes. Out of 13 passes, I get double teamed eight or 10 times, which means I have only three opportunities to get a sack or pressure. Yet, my pressures combined with sacks were up this year." One more thing: When Freeney has a sack the Colts are 31-9.
5. This is how much Polian means to the Indianapolis Colts: Since his arrival in 1999, the club is 89-39 -- the best record in the NFL by a margin of six games. The Colts also are the only franchise to reach the playoffs in seven of the past eight seasons.