View Full Version : Just preseason, yet rookies impress

08-04-2008, 08:11 PM
The preseason is officially underway, as the Redskins downed the Colts 30-16. Nothing new, most of the starters were gone by the second quarter, if not half-way through the first (if they even played).

It is always interesting to watch some of the rookies, to see where they stack up, even if they are playing against primarily camp fodder.

With that said, I’d like to focus on two players that were heavily debated coming into the draft, because of their notable college careers, quarterback Colt Brennan of the Redskins, and running back Mike Hart of the Colts.

Brennan set a lot of records and earned his way to New York and the Heisman stage while quarterbacking Hawaii the past three seasons. He finished his career at Hawaii with 14,193 yards, with 131 touchdowns and just 42 interceptions. He set NCAA records in touchdowns, career and single season, along with passing efficiency, among others.

Brennan was thought to be a “system quarterback” coming out of college. He highlighted everything that pro scouts saw wrong in college systems: he never took a snap from under center, he threw the ball sidearm, he threw off his back foot, he relied on short and intermediate crossing routes and deception, and he was too short. Could he read a defense? Could he take a snap from under center, drop seven steps, set and throw?

While none of those questions were really answered Sunday night, Brennan had a fairly impressive debut. Noteworthy, not because of his prominence in college, but more for the fact that he is on a team that may not be so patient with its starting quarterback, Jason Campbell.

Campbell was drafted by Joe Gibbs and given the reigns to the ship in Week 11 in 2005. He threw for 1,297 yards in seven games, completing 53.1 percent of his passes with 10 touchdowns and six interceptions. His quarterback rating left a little to be desired at 76.5. He came into 2007 as the starter for the Redskins. He played in the first 13 games and was adequate, but certainly not spectacular, finishing with a 77.6 rating, throwing for 2,700 yards with 12 touchdowns and 11 interceptions.

All of those above concerns are true about Colt Brennan. He is undersized, he does throw off his back foot, he does throw side arm and at times he did look a little uncomfortable under center. But, he was 9 of 10 for 123 yards and two touchdowns, with no interceptions. Again, it was against camp fodder, but certainly notable.

Colt Brennan most definitely will not oust Jason Campbell and start at the beginning of the season. But the rumblings will begin if the Redskins begin to falter early in the season, and Campbell begins to falter. They are in a tough division. The Giants are the returning Super Bowl Champions, the Cowboys were thought to be better than the Giants going into the playoffs, and any team with a healthy Donovan McNabb and Brian Westbrook is dangerous. So, can the Redskins keep up? And, if they can’t, would new head coach Jim Zorn pull the plug on Campbell and insert the rookie? Certainly an interesting thought entering into the season.

Then there’s Mike Hart. He started for four seasons at Michigan, where he was more known for losing to Ohio State than he was for what he actually accomplished. He was one of the big three: Chad Henne, Jake Long and himself.

Hart was also thought to be too small to play at the pro level, dropping him in the draft significantly, before the Colts took him with the 202nd pick overall. Hart is only five-foot, nine – not very tall – but he is a “bowling ball,” weighing in at over 200 pounds. He has always had good vision and he hits the hole with authority. But, he never had the breakaway speed the scouts love to see in draft prospects, and that also contributed to his fall in the draft.

Yet there he was Sunday night, taking four carries and scampering for 53 yards on just four carries, and catching three passes for 28 yards. He didn’t get into the end zone, but he looked good, and he looked like he might belong.

His running style is perfect for the zone run scheme that Indianapolis runs, but would he ever see the playing field? He’ll most likely be on the practice squad for at least this season, as Joseph Addai, Dominic Rhodes, Kenton Keith and even Clifton Dawson are listed ahead of him on the depth chart. But, Hart has shown that he is a workhorse type back.

Hart finished his career at Michigan the all-time leader in rushing yards with 5,040. He ran for that record on a record number of carries, 1,015, and also finished with 41 touchdowns. He can carry the load; but can he carry the load at the NFL level. Many times teams worry about backs who are used to often in college being able to continue that into the pros. Its true, running backs don’t last that long. So Hart will have to battle for a spot on the roster, most likely ending up on the practice squad. But, don’t be surprised to see Hart surface somewhere in the league this year, as the inevitable injuries begin to stack up.

08-04-2008, 08:16 PM
Nice article.

I was impressed by both Mike Hart and Colt Brennan yesterday. They were both players I ranked highly in the draft. People knock Colt Brennan becase he played at Hawaii and he was a "system QB", but at the end of the day, he did make things run. I do believe that Jason Campbell has the ability to do well (as I wrote in my article). He's got a powerful arm and a quick release. His arm accuracy and decision making may be his downfall though. Brennan would certainly make a great future prospect.

Mike Hart and Joseph Addai could be a deadly two back combo. I like the way Hart runs, he is my kind of runner. To be honest, I don't think Dominic Rhodes has a chance to playy for the Colts this season. It will be all Addai and Hart.

Great article. :salute:

08-05-2008, 08:10 AM
Nice article, but if Hart gets put on the practice squad, he gets picked up by another team in a heartbeat. He will either be on the Colts final roster or on another team's roster.

08-05-2008, 08:16 AM
Nice article, but if Hart gets put on the practice squad, he gets picked up by another team in a heartbeat. He will either be on the Colts final roster or on another team's roster.

I think the Colts will ultimately find a way to hold on to him. He fits there system really well. But, he'll find his way onto someone's roster. I liked what I saw the other night, although it was against scrubs.