2006 season recap
Monkey finally off their backs
After years of suffering playoff defeats at the hands of the Patriots and Steelers, the Colts and quarterback Peyton Manning finally got over the hump in 2006, edging New England 38-34 in the AFC Championship Game on their way to a Super Bowl victory over the Chicago Bears. Despite a rather porous regular-season run defense, the Colts, bolstered by the return of safety Bob Sanders in the playoffs, flipped a switch in the postseason.
Key camp questions
Can the Colts avoid a Super Bowl hangover?
Now that Dungy, Manning & Co. are over the hump, the next challenge is avoiding a letdown. The Steelers came off their Super Bowl triumph and went 2-4 out of the gate, and the Patriots started the 2005 season 3-3 following their most recent Super Bowl win. The Colts open 2007 against the New Orleans Saints, who reached the NFC title game last season, then play three divisional road games in their next five contests.
Can Joseph Addai be the No. 1 running back?
With the departure of Dominic Rhodes, the Colts will look to Addai to pick up the slack. But the only guy on board to spell Addai is Dedo Dorsey. Addai excelled last year (1,081 yards, 40 receptions) because he shared the load with Rhodes. Having to go it alone will mean increased wear and tear and quite possibly decreased production.
How will the defense respond to the departures of some key players?
The Colts' defense was impressive in the playoffs -- thanks in part to the return of safety Bob Sanders -- but during the season the unit had plenty of difficulty stopping the run (173.0 yards per game, last in the league). With starters CB Nick Harper and OLB Cato June gone, there are some big holes to fill. TOP POSITION BATTLE Freddy Keiaho Linebacker With the departure of Cato June, there is at least one spot to fill here, with the most likely candidate being second-year OLB Freddy Keiaho. The Colts need an improved run defense, so whoever can provide that support most likely will win out.
Key position battle
With the departure of Cato June, there is at least one spot to fill here, with the most likely candidate being second-year OLB Freddy Keiaho. The Colts need an improved run defense, so whoever can provide that support most likely will win out.
With Brandon Stokley gone, Gonzalez will be counted on to step in right away in the passing game. Many experts describe Gonzalez as the most polished and NFL-ready wide receiver to come out of college this year. Having Peyton Manning as his quarterback should make the Ohio State product's transition to the NFL a smooth one.
Player on the spot
With Rhodes gone, Addai is left to get things done in the backfield by himself. Addai rushed for over 1,000 yards and seven touchdowns in 2006, but someone will have to replace the 641 yards and five touchdowns contributed by Rhodes.
Harrison was inconsistent at times but finished last season as the best wide receiver in fantasy football. His overall numbers over the past eight seasons have been phenomenal, but whether he can keep it up at age 35 remains to be seen. Still, Harrison remains a solid No. 1 fantasy wideout.