Merril Hoge Was Very Sad Watching Marvin Harrison, Calls Him ‘A Shadow of Himself'

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It's been a tough start to the season for the Colts. First the news that Peyton Manning would miss the preseason recovering from knee surgery, and then virtually the entire offensive line lands in the infirmary for last week's squeaker against the Vikings.

A few days ago, we learned that Bob Sanders will miss four-to-six weeks with a high ankle sprain, and now there is speculation that Manning's go-to guy, Marvin Harrison, is on his last legs. And that's not a metaphor -- the dude's in bad shape. At least that's the word on the street.

Is Marvin Harrison done? Or at least reaching the point where he can see the finish line from his front porch? ...

... [T]he whispers are starting. And the longer Harrison goes without having that Marvin-like breakout game, the louder the whispers will become, ultimately turning into howls.

"I don't know how to say this, but it was almost sad to watch Marvin (against the Minnesota Vikings)," said former running back and current ESPN analyst Merril Hoge, speaking Wednesday on WFNI-1070 AM. "It's sad to watch him. It's like he's a shadow of himself. During the game, I've seen Peyton (Manning) throw that comeback to Marvin a hundred times, but this time, Marvin didn't have that explosiveness coming back to the ball and it got knocked down. And after that (play), he was never a factor in the game."

To be fair, Hoge spent most of his NFL career concussed, so it's worth keeping that in mind when considering his comments. That said, he and Ron Jaworski are the two most studious employees at ESPN, and neither would make such an observation willy-nilly. After all, Hoge was one of the first NFL analyst types to call out Vince Young for being awful. ( I think it's fair to say he nailed that one.)

As for Harrison, it could be the beginning of the end of a likely Hall of Fame career, but his diminishing productivity doesn't necessarily hamper the Colts' offense; they managed to win 13 games last season without him. And because president Bill Polian is better at his job than almost every other personnel guy in the league, Indianapolis has planned for this eventuality.

Reggie Wayne was re-signed to a shiny, new deal a couple years ago, and Anthony Gonzalez was the team's first-round pick in 2007. And as long as Dallas Clark and Joseph Addai are healthy, the Colts offense should continue to roll right along. Assuming, of course, that the offensive line isn't chock-full of rookies for the foreseeable future.

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