Johnny O gives a midseason report for the offense
Offensive line: This group spent the offseason vowing improvement from a year ago, and while they have taken strides, they’re not yet thrilled with the progress. They’re also still searching for a permanent lineup, which perhaps they found this past week. Kyle DeVan, a guard/center who signed from Arena Football League 2 in the offseason, had been sharing time with second-year veteran and 2008 second-round draft pick Mike Pollak for much of the season, but DeVan started Sunday and played throughout. That comes after Charlie Johnson – a 2006 sixth-round selection was moved into the starting lineup over 2007 second-round selection Tony Ugoh in the offseason. That makes the offensive line RT Ryan Diem, DeVan, three-time Pro Bowl C Jeff Saturday, G Ryan Lilja and Johnson going forward. The unit has allowed five sacks in the last two games after allowing two in the first six games, and while there were reasons for several of the sacks – read: quality coverage – this group never is happy when Manning gets hit. The major issue remains run blocking. The Colts have shown signs of improving in the running game, and against Houston,they were effective in the fourth quarter, but they’re still ranked No. 29 in the NFL and when you talk to the offensive linemen, they’re still not happy with the area. Looking forward: The improvement of the running game will remain a focus for this area.
Cornerback: It was easy to think that if Marlin Jackson and Kelvin Hayden weren’t in the lineup there would be a significant dropoff. As easy as it may have been, that also would have been wrong. After missing the last half of last season with a knee injury, Jackson played nickelback for four games before tearing an anterior cruciate ligament in practice last week. And Hayden? He missed three games with a hamstring and missed last week with a knee. Still, the Colts have shown little dropoff. Rookie CB Jerraud Powers moved into Jackson’s position in preseason and has started seven of eight games, playing well enough that Colts President Bill Polian said earlier this week he should be Rookie of the Year. Rookie Jacob Lacey has started twice and started last week in place of Hayden and has shown a knack for getting his hands on passes. The Colts allowed six touchdown passes last season, an NFL record for fewest in a season, and so far this season, they have allowed just four in eight games. With Hayden out until around Thanksgiving, look for Lacey and Powers to keep starting with the third corner being Tim Jennings, who often is maligned, but has a knack for making plays. Looking forward: Getting Hayden back and healthy is key for the Colts in December and January