|Wayne's message: Colts are still hunting for title|
|Written by Admin|
|Sunday, 29 July 2007 11:54|
Wearing camouflage gear from head to toe and dropping his mask barely long enough to answer a few questions, the Colts' Pro Bowl receiver had a message for his teammates: Don't settle for being the NFL's target.
``They're coming after us, so you've got to get ready, get after them and be prepared,'' he explained. ``It comes with the territory.''
In years past, Wayne's stylish entrances have been more about comic relief.
He once rode to camp with Edgerrin James in a taxicab, joined James' bus caravan of school children another year, and last July arrived at camp wearing James' new Arizona Cardinals jersey to honor the Colts' career rushing leader who left as a free agent.
It could have easily been another funny stunt Sunday.
But Wayne ultimately dug the hunting gear out of his closet to make a point. With 31 other NFL teams trying to dethrone the defending champions, Wayne doesn't want Indianapolis to cede anything when it opens practice Monday.
``Now that we have one, what's wrong with wanting two?'' he said. ``The idea is we want to catch them before they catch you.''
Camp promises to be different, too.
A plethora of national media figures are expected to descend on Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology this week, and the Colts have installed another 500 seats around their practice field in anticipation of higher attendance.
On the field, they lost eight starters from the projected opening-day lineup - the biggest exodus since Manning joined the team.
The most interesting competition will come at left tackle after Tarik Glenn, a three-time Pro Bowler, retired Tuesday.
Ryan Diem has started the last four seasons at right tackle and could move to the left side because offensive line coach Howard Mudd requires linemen to be versatile enough to play every spot on the line. Second-year tackle Charlie Johnson, who replaced Diem in the Super Bowl victory over Chicago, also will be in the mix, along with rookie tackle Tony Ugoh.
``We'll miss Tarik, he's my friend and all of our friends,'' said Manning, the Super Bowl MVP. ``He'll continue to be our friend, but no longer as our teammate. That part is sad and a little disappointing, but I know Howard Mudd will put someone in there that we trust.''
Ugoh, the Colts' second round draft pick, was expected to play this season at guard and take over for Glenn next year. By signing a four-year contract Sunday worth a little less than $4 million - about 50 percent of that money guaranteed - Ugoh assured himself of at least not having the disadvantage of missing practice.
``It's real exciting,'' Ugoh said. ``I've been on the left side my whole life.''
Indy also completed deals with its other three previously unsigned draft picks. Defensive back Michael Coe, a fifth-round pick, signed a four-year deal that includes a signing bonus of about $138,000.
Team officials also announced they reached agreements with their two third-round picks, cornerback Daymeion Hughes and defensive tackle Quinn Pitcock. Terms were not disclosed and Pitcock still had to pass a physical.
The Colts are expected to address their remaining question, the status of former Pro Bowl defensive tackle Corey Simon, who missed all of last season with a mysterious illness, on Monday.
There was speculation Indy would release the eight-year veteran during the offseason, but when that didn't occur, Simon reportedly said he would report to camp on time. He was not seen on campus Sunday.
``You probably know more than I do,'' coach Tony Dungy said before a team meeting. ``I'll probably find out as soon as I walk through those doors.''
Meanwhile, Wayne tried to ignore the distractions and be himself.
He smiled and joked, even acknowledging he considered wearing Cato June's new Tampa Bay jersey to honor the former Pro Bowl linebacker who left Indy in free agency earlier this year.
But the hunting gear and the message it sent were a hit.
``I haven't seen it yet, but I heard about it,'' Dungy said, chuckling. ``I think he's trying to send a message.''