News From Terre Haute, Indiana

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August 8, 2010

NFL commissioner stops by Colts camp

Anderson — With a training camp scrimmage record-crowd of nearly 7,500 fans on hand at Macholtz Stadium to watch the Indianapolis Colts Saturday, it was what occurred before the hour long workout that will probably catch most people’s attention.

National Football League Commissioner Roger Goodell visited with Colts players prior to the scrimmage, in part to talk with them about the upcoming 2010 season. But the trip was also designed to allow Goodell a chance to have a “give and take” with the team in regards to the current labor situation concerning the league’s collective bargaining agreement.

“There are talks scheduled [between the NFL and the National Football Players Association] and they will continue meeting. We all wish there was more progress. But we know the challenge in getting something done here that is fair for every party,” he told a group of reporters Saturday morning.

“These [training camp] visits are designed to meet with the players, coaches, front office and probably some of the fans here. That’s part of what I’ve done in all of these camps to try to get some dialogue going, try to hear some views.”

The meeting with the Colts players touched on several issues besides a potential lockout by league owners prior to the 2011 season.

“In the player meeting, we talk about player safety. We do address labor, but we recognize the context that [the training camp visits] are not negotiating sessions. So there are a lot of things that can’t be discussed in particular. We talked about the [proposed] 18 [regular season game schedule] and two [preseason game] format. We talk about those kind of concepts just so they can hear from me and I can hear from them.”

Center Jeff Saturday is the Colts’ player representative with the NFLPA. He is also a member of the union’s executive committee. He came away impressed with how the team reacted to Goodell’s talk, especially in the kind of questions that they asked.

“He just came in and introduced himself to most of the players. He talked about what he had done in the past and how long he had been working in the league. He gave a general description of what he was doing. He had a couple of topics that he wanted to address. He talked about player safety and what players were thinking. He was just asking guy’s thoughts. And then he opened it up to questions and answers and we touched on a lot of the issues. It wasn’t a negotiation. It was just getting information out,” Saturday explained.

“I was really happy from what I heard from the players. I was really happy with the questions they asked. I thought they asked really informed questions. We’ve tried to get as much information to them as possible. And I thought they did a really good job of asking tough questions to the commissioner. They were on spot on. The players were spot on with what they were trying to get accomplished.”

• 2012 Super Bowl still on schedule — Despite the uncertainly of what’s going to happen next spring between the league and the NFLPA and the collective bargaining agreement, Goodell appears to be relatively confident that the 2012 Super Bowl will be played at Lucas Oil Stadium.

“I do believe there will be a Super Bowl in Indianapolis in 2012,” he said. “If not, we’ll work on that. But right now, we’re working toward the game with that idea (being played as scheduled).”

Saturday didn’t sound quite as confident, but he hopes that the game will go on as scheduled.

“I sure we hope we do. That’s obviously something huge for the place that I live in. So I want it to happen. I think that there’s a lot of work that has to be done. Hopefully, the closer that we get to [the 2012 Super Bowl], I know the players are willing to get something accomplished,” he said.

“We just have to know what are we really compromising, what are we really negotiating. I don’t think any player knows yet. We’ve heard from ownership that they don’t like the [old CBA] but we haven’t seen any difference of what can we like. Those are the things that will have to be addressed before we move on.”

• Defense dominates scrimmage — The defense outscored the offense 52-24 in a “mock game” controlled scrimmage Saturday morning. The scrimmage began with both teams tied at 21-21. The defense’s points came courtesy of four interceptions and a forced fumble. One of the interceptions was returned for a touchdown.

Middle linebacker Gary Brackett returned the third pass of the scrimmage by quarterback Peyton Manning 52 yards for the score. Manning played the first two quarters of the scrimmage, completing eight-of-19 passes for 90 yards and the interception. His biggest pass play came on a 15-yard toss to wide receiver Reggie Wayne.

Backup quarterback Curtis Painter connected on eight-of-12 passes for 83 yards and had three passes intercepted in the scrimmage. Two of the interceptions came off of tipped passes. Painter had a 30-yard completion to wide receiver Taj Smith in the first half.

Undrafted rookie cornerback Mike Newton registered three interceptions. All three came against Painter, although two of the passes were tipped before the interceptions.

Another undrafted rookie, quarterback Tim Hiller, got all the work in the final quarter of the scrimmage. Hiller completed five-of-nine passes for 39 passes. He led the No. 3 offense downfield to the defense’s one-yard line before the clock ran out.

Placekicker Adam Vinatieri missed on two of three attempted field goals. Vinatieri hit on his first kick from 28 yards out and was wide on kicks from 43 and 38 yards.

Punter Pat McAfee showed that he can still kick field goals when called upon. A former placekicker at West Virginia, McAfee booted field goals from 35 and 44 yards during a special teams session prior to the scrimmage.

• Injury list update — Sitting out Saturday were rookie cornerback Brandon King, offensive guard Tony Ugoh, offensive tackle Charlie Johnson, offensive guard Andy Alleman, defensive end Keyunta Dawson, weak side linebacker Clint Session, wide receiver Pierre Garcon, offensive tackle Ryan Diem, defensive end Ervin Baldwin, tight end Colin Cloherty and tight end Dallas Clark.

Johnson suffered a foot injury during Friday’s afternoon practice. Alleman tweaked his back later in the same workout. Their status won’t be updated until early next week.

Diem has missed the last several days of training camp practice in order to attend to the birth of his first child.

• Off until Monday — The Colts will have Sunday off before returning for a pair of workouts on Monday (8:30 a.m. and 3:30 p.m.).

Several players, as well as coaches, plan to spend the time away from training camp visiting with family and friends. Everybody is expected back Sunday evening.

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