On the Road: Day 12 … with the Colts

Peyton Manning mingles with fans during training camp in Anderson, Ind.
(AP Photo)

(Editor’s note: In addition to his team reports, Jason Cole will share some off-field highlights and other observations of his preseason travel.)

Day 12
I have made my way to the Midwest, where’s it’s hot, sticky and decidedly monochromatic. As I read about the federal court’s decision in San Francisco on Wednesday, I looked out the window here in this depressed city of 60,000 and wondered what the folks in this town think? It was a rhetorical question. Anderson, Ind., is the home of Anderson University, which doubles as the world headquarters for the Church of God, which means no drinking, dancing or anything that might lead to those two things. It’s a pretty place and the stadium where the Colts are practicing is surrounded with elm, maple and sycamore trees. It’s all pleasant, but this town is hurting. Delco Remy recently closed all 26 plants it had in town, taking 27,000 jobs out of the area. Unemployment is more than 11 percent. AP writer Michael Marot wrote a good story about the situation and what townspeople hope will be an Indianapolis Colts-led revival. Cross your fingers for the folks here (and everywhere, really).

How ‘bout some football
The Colts didn’t do much during the morning session and this team doesn’t do much hitting of any kind in training camp. That’s by design because this is an established, veteran team. No reason to bang those guys up too much right now. That said, it’s obvious the Colts want to get a little bigger on the offensive line, moving Tony Ugoh(notes) to left guard and then having several guys compete for the right guard spot. There’s getting big, but also staying athletic. “We do so much pass blocking, we still have to be active,” team president Bill Polian said. … The team has terrific depth at wide receiver with Reggie Wayne(notes), Pierre Garcon(notes), Austin Collie(notes) and Anthony Gonzalez(notes), who played in only one game and had no catches last season because of a right knee injury. However, the problem with this group is that aside from Gonzalez, who can return punts but never has, none of those guys play special teams. On most teams, the fourth receiver plays special teams. … Speaking of Wayne, he wasn’t happy about his contract this offseason (he has two years left) but he didn’t let that interfere with his preparation for the upcoming campaign. Wayne said he lost 14 pounds since the end of last season, reporting to camp at 191. One key for Wayne was paying more attention to his diet earlier in the offseason. … Both running backs Joseph Addai(notes) and Donald Brown(notes) look like they’re in good shape and looked quick. Of course, they haven’t gotten hit yet. Both of them need to avoid the minor injuries that have plagued them. … Coach Jim Caldwell said the team will be careful with strong safety Bob Sanders(notes), who has been riddled by injuries throughout his career. Caldwell said he won’t do anything to change the “violent” way Sanders plays on game days.

Song of the morning
I don’t know if it’s the fact that I’m no longer on the West Coast (as Jim Morrison said, “The West is the Best”), but I’ve been looking for a little inspiration the past couple of days. In these times of trouble, Oasis (and their heavy Beatles influence) comes to me with “Keep the Dream Alive.” Not their best work (“Champagne Supernova” is unreal to me, while “Wonderwall” and “A Bell Will Ring” are great), but it has a great lyric: “I’m no stranger to this place, where real life and dreams collide. And even though I fall from grace, I will keep the dream alive.” A tad corny, but the Fightin’ Gallaghers (Liam and Noel sound like a riot, literally) deliver it well. Words to live by.

Downgrade on the wheels
Generally, I get my choice of rental cars and I’ve been lucky on this trip. Dodge Chargers in the first four stops (San Antonio, Los Angeles, Napa, Calif., and San Diego). Solid, comfortable rental. The trip to Flagstaff, Ariz., (thru Phoenix) was the highlight. There was a Dodge Challenger in the lot I was able to nab. I got to open up a little on the trip back from Flagstaff. That car is smooth even at 100 mph (not that I really did that, I swear). Anyway, I get to Indy, where I’m going to be picking up a car for a week of driving from here to Lexington, Ky., for the Bengals then to Cleveland/Canton for the Browns and the Hall of Fame. The selection of cars includes an assortment of Nissans and Kias. Oh well, at least I’m going to get good gas mileage.

Emalee Wyatt delivers a meal at Gene's Root Beer in Anderson, Ind. After 11 years in Terre Haute, Ind., the Colts returned to Anderson University for their NFL training camp.
(AP Photo)

Good eats
Oy vey, Anderson doesn’t jump off the culinary map when you first get off Interstate 69. It’s a series of fast-food joints interspersed with places like Ruby Tuesday, Lone Star and the Texas Roadhouse. However, if you keep going down the road, things get a little more interesting. Emphasis on “little.” Just before the university is an old drive-in called Gene’s Root Beer. Great ambiance. Yeah, it’s greasy, but it has character and it’s fun. That’s a start.

Proper etiquette
I had to share this moment from Monday night, when I took my stepdaughter to dinner in Phoenix. Sitting in the next booth was a couple on a date, a man and woman who each appeared to be in their 30s. The man’s back was to my stepdaughter’s back. Roughly 10 minutes after we got there, another woman walked up to the table, poured a glass of water over the guy’s head and then walked away saying, “He has a kid with me.” Nothing like a woman scorned. Anyway, I pass this along because my stepdaughter was appreciative of the fact that she didn’t get doused in the process. By pouring the water rather than throwing it in the guy’s face, the woman showed at least a modicum of restraint. Good form.

Jason Cole is a national NFL writer for Yahoo! Sports. Follow him on Twitter. Send Jason a question or comment for potential use in a future column or webcast.
Updated Wednesday, Aug 4, 2010