Colts' Ugoh will try to fill left tackle void left by retired Glenn

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  1. TDJets72027

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    One constant during Peyton Manning's nine NFL seasons has been the confidence of knowing every time he dropped back to pass, his blind side was protected by left tackle Tarik Glenn.

    This season, that security blanket has been stripped away by Glenn's surprise retirement at 31, even though he seemingly was in the prime of his career, with three consecutive Pro Bowl selections.

    GALLERY: The Colts prepare for a hopeful Super Bowl repeat

    Glenn's likely successor is Tony Ugoh. That's pronounced "you-go" and sounds like "uh-oh," which is how some Indianapolis Colts fans must be viewing the prospect of replacing a 10-year veteran with a rookie.

    Manning ranks Glenn alongside Baltimore's Jonathan Ogden and Seattle's Walter Jones as the top tackles of recent years. Glenn missed only six games in his decade-long run, all of them in 2003.
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    "As far as dropping back and never having to worry about the backside protection, I will always be indebted to Tarik for that," Manning says. "There are big shoes to fill in that position for sure, both on the field and in the locker room."

    But with Indianapolis' Sept. 6 season opener against New Orleans approaching, Manning is trying not to dwell on Glenn's departure.

    "It's one of those situations, where if you keep feeling sorry about it, you never move on from it," Manning says. "It affects the way you play and the way the rest of your team plays. So we have to move on and adjust and have some new players and some young guys competing for that position."

    Colts offensive line coach Howard Mudd points out that his other four projected starters all made starts in their rookie seasons. Two-time Pro Bowl center Jeff Saturday had two rookie starts in 1999; left guard Ryan Lilja had six in 2004; right guard Jake Scott made nine in 2004; and right tackle Ryan Diem had eight in 2001.

    Mudd says only the shift at left tackle has attracted significant concern. He acknowledges that's because left tackle is perceived to be the quarterback's key bodyguard, usually taking on the opposition's top pass rusher.

    "All of a sudden, all of the attention is drawn to this, and it's really not any different" than the other transitions on the Colts offensive line, says Mudd, who's in his 34th year as an NFL assistant.

    Colts head coach Tony Dungy reminds skeptics that Joseph Addai was an unheralded running back last summer who had a 1,000-yard season as a rookie.

    "We will make do," Dungy says.

    Last season, Indianapolis allowed an NFL-low 15 sacks. In his career, Manning has suffered a sack only once for about every 29 passing attempts. Clearly, Indianapolis believes Ugoh can maintain that quality protection for the cornerstone of its franchise.

    To obtain the second-round draft pick (42nd overall) used to select the 6-5, 301-pound Ugoh, Indianapolis gave San Francisco its 2008 first-round pick and a fourth-rounder in 2007. At Arkansas, Ugoh was credited with 199 "knockdown" blocks in four seasons. As a senior, his Razorback line allowed a national-low nine sacks, and only one of those was attributed to Ugoh in the school's statistics.

    With training camp attention continuing to focus on him, Ugoh has begged off some interview requests and says he's just trying "to get ready as soon as possible."

    "I will be ready," Ugoh says.

    He did have the advantage of training some with Glenn during minicamps but, Mudd says, "For a rookie that's like 400 years ago."