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American Football: Hamilton is Mannings backup

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posted on Sep, 6 2004 @ 12:20 PM
Former Arena League quarterback Joe Hamilton will be Peyton Manning's top backup after the Indianapolis Colts released veteran Cory Sauter and 20 others on Sunday.

Sauter, a six-year veteran, had a solid preseason and was expected to backup Manning this year. He was 28 of 40 for 336 yards, one touchdown, no interceptions and a rating of 103.8 - 33 points higher than Manning.

But it wasn't enough to convince Colts coach Tony Dungy, who decided to go with the inexperienced Hamilton, the player he drafted while coaching the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in 2000.

"Cory ran the system smoothly and had more experience in it," Dungy said. "It was kind of a gut feeling."

The Colts released 21 players but only announced 10 of the cuts. Dungy said the other 11 names would be announced on Monday.

The biggest surprise was Sauter being beaten out by Hamilton, the 1999 Heisman Trophy runner-up while at Georgia Tech.

"I had a good feeling that I would be one of the three quarterbacks here," Hamilton said. "You're talking to a very excited man right now."

The Colts also released veteran defensive backs Corey Chamblin and Kato Serwanga and tackle Jim Newton, who played in three games with the Colts last season.

Hamilton, 27, impressed the Colts with his mobility, knowledge of the offense and leadership. He led the Colts on a game-winning touchdown drive in the preseason opener at San Diego.

Questions about the 5-foot-10, 190-pound Hamilton's size and durability have plagued him throughout his career.

He never threw a pass in two seasons in Tampa Bay. He injured his knee playing in NFL Europe and was placed on injured reserve in 2002.

Hamilton didn't play at all in 2003, then joined the Arena Football League's Orlando Predators this spring.

He signed with the Colts in June after throwing for 2,919 yards and 57 touchdowns for the Predators.

"He picked up our offense as fast as anybody since I came in here," Dungy said. "We could have a very different package with him, naked bootlegs, things like that. It would give us a very different look."

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