As the Indianapolis Colts reach the halfway point of the season against the Miami Dolphins at 1 p.m. today, it's a perfect time to take stock.
Which Colts have exceeded expectations? Which ones have come up short? And who appears poised for a bigger second half?
My choices are, of course, highly subjective and based on a combination of gut feeling and tangible production:
* Reggie Wayne. You wouldn't think it would be possible for one of the best wide receivers in Colts history to exceed expectations. Yet he has. Wayne took on two new roles: 1. He moved from a single-spot wideout to a multiple-look, sometimes-in-motion receiver. 2. He's become more vocal as a leader. He leads the NFL in reception yardage and the team in savvy leadership.
* Andrew Luck. Expectations were pretty darn high for the NFL's top draft pick, and he hasn't been perfect. But he has shown a mastery of late-game calm and scoring drives. The Colts at 4-3 and they probably should be 5-2 if not for the last-minute lapse against the Jacksonville Jaguars.
* Jerrell Freeman. Who thought this Canadian Football League alum would end up being such a solid NFL starter at linebacker? Freeman made his presence felt by picking off Jay Cutler for a touchdown in the season opener. He has 54 solo tackles, 99 total to lead the team. As Pat Angerer (see below) gets back into the full swing of things, the Colts linebacker corps should be a bigger strength.
* Dwayne Allen. He was drafted as the second tight end after Coby Fleener, but Allen has proved to be the better of the two so far. We figured he would be a strong blocking tight end, with an ability to fight for extra yardage with his physique. But he's shown reliable hands as a pass receiver that might be the best on the team outside of the man, Wayne.
Underachieving so far
* Vontae Davis. Maybe Davis should be given an incomplete because he has been injured about half the time he's been in Indianapolis after a trade with the Dolphins. He will not play today. When Davis has been on the field, he's been adequate at best, which is a far cry from the shut-down cornerback many expected when owner Jim Irsay was tweeting about the big trade that brought him to Indy.
* Jerraud Powers. Entering this season, Powers had the reputation as the Colts' best cornerback. It was well-deserved. This season, except for a couple of moments, including an interception against the Packers, Powers has been beaten fairly regularly. It's tough to grade defensive backs because they can just have a few bad plays that are exaggerated by circumstances. Still, this has been a rough start for Powers.
* Mewelde Moore. He was brought in as the veteran running back and a reliable third-down runner and pass catcher. Instead, he's looked old and unreliable and, this week, the Colts released him. His contribution early as an example of hard work to younger backs Vick Ballard and Delone Carter was his best contribution.
* Dwight Freeney. This defensive scheme switch is a tough one for Freeney, and he's been slowed by a high-ankle sprain suffered in the opener at Chicago. Still, he has four solo tackles and one sack so far. Out of respect for his great production in the past, I won't break down the clichéd figures of how much he's being paid per tackle or sack. He's accustomed to being more productive.
Poised for bigger things
* Donald Brown. Those who have been waiting for Brown to show the spark that prompted Bill Polian and Tony Dungy to draft him in the first round have been seeing more of that. It was impressive how Brown came back from a knee scope to show stunning speed at Tennessee. If this procedure has alleviated a barrier, he could burn for more consistent yardage in the season's second half.
* Pat Angerer. I can't remember a Colts player coming back from injury with more verve than Angerer showed two weeks ago. He returned to the unspoken reality that Freeman stole his job, but it looks like the fire Angerer displayed makes it more likely the two will end up on the field together more and more this second half.
* Tom Zbikowski. Let's face it, he didn't stand out much at all the first four games. Gradually, however, it seems like he's been in the middle of more plays. I'm not sure he's a long-term answer at strong safety, but he could boost his chances with a strong second half.
* Bruce Arians. The interim head coach has made good decisions for the most part, and has done a nice job of maintaining camaraderie and cohesiveness while coach Chuck Pagano is out. The pressure will mount if the Colts stay in the playoff race, but it would be a good pressure.