New-look Colts begin offseason program
The Sports Xchange
NFL Team Report - Indianapolis Colts - INSIDE SLANT
The Colts officially began offseason workouts on Monday (April 2), which gave veterans such as defensive endRobert Mathis, safety Antoine Bethea and cornerback Jerraud Powers a chance to get a head start in learning the team's new 3-4 (three down linemen and four linebackers) system.
They'll be getting help from two formerBaltimore Ravens who played for Indianapolis coach Chuck Pagano last year. Defensive end Corey Redding and safety Tom Zbikowski signed with the Colts last month. A third former Ravens defender -- nose tackle Brandon McKinney -- also joined the team as well. McKinney (6-2, 350) played four years in Baltimore.
Redding and Zbikowski are both excited to be following Pagano to Indianapolis, They'll serve as on-field examples for the Colts defensive coaching staff, led by first-year coordinator Greg Manusky.
"They're soaking it up. They are literally learning right now, but it's just the tip of the iceberg. It's about learning the base (defense). Right now it's about work. It's getting into the playbook, learning the playbook, studying the playbook. It's about watching tape, watching film," Redding said.
"If the guys need Tom or I to answer some questions for them, we'll be happy to do that. If we notice something that we think will help them understand (the defense), we'll be happy to help out. It's all about knowing your responsibilities, using the proper techniques, and just going out and playing hard. It's also about going out there and having some fun. And we intend to do that."
When the offseason practices began this week, Pagano handed out T-shirts to each of the players. The Colts' new motto -- "Building A Monster" -- is prominent on the back of each shirt.
"(The motto is) about the mentality. Either get with it or say goodbye," Zbikowski said. The former Notre Dame standout added that he doesn't mind NFL observers dismissing the Colts' chances of having a winning season in 2012.
"It's the best thing. I hope they do," the hard-hitting safety said, adding that he isn't buying into the talk of Indianapolis being involved in a rebuilding mode. "I don't even know what those words (rebuilding) mean."
Neither does Mathis, who re-signed with the Colts last month. He'll be playing a new position -- outside linebacker.
"I feel like a freshman all over again," he joked. "(The new defense) is a lot more wide open than in the past. Everybody's excited and they're ready to get going. (There) will be subtle differences. I'll be dropping (back into pass coverage) a little bit more. But it's still being active and bringing the heat. It's still the same."
One thing is clear: Despite what many believe, Mathis doesn't view the 2012 season as the start of something new.
"I want to get this 'rebuild' word out of everybody's mouth," he said. "I'm here to win games and we're not going to fall short of our goal. We've been counted out already, so we've got to use it as positive motivation.
"I can't stand it (the word 'rebuilding'). I didn't come back (to Indianapolis) to lose games. I don't have rebuilding years in me."
NFL Team Report - Indianapolis Colts - NOTES, QUOTES
--Colts exclusive-rights free agent safetyStevie Brown signed with the Giants. Brown was a backup defensive back and wound up seeing playing time on special teams for Indianapolis last season. Brown ended the year on injured reserve after suffering a leg injury.
--The Colts have signed long snapper Matt Overton. He has had previous stints in theUFL with Omaha and Florida and has also been on the offseason roster for Seattle. Long snapper Justin Snow, meanwhile, has been with the team since signing as an undrafted free agent in 2000.
--The Colts signed free-agent tight endKyle Miller. Miller (6-5, 257) was originally signed as an undrafted free agent by Jacksonville on July 27, 2011. He was waived on September 3. Miller was a four-year letterman at the University of Mount Union in Alliance, Ohio.
--Nose tackle Brandon McKinney reportedly signed a two-year deal with Indianapolis. McKinney (6-2, 350) will give the Colts the big body needed up front. He spent the last four years with Baltimore.
--The Colts hired retired LBDavid Thornton as the franchise's player development coordinator. Thornton played nine seasons in the NFL after being selected in the fourth round of the 2002 draft by Indy. He played 2002-2005 for the Colts and 2006-2010 with Tennessee.
--The Colts began the first of three weeks of offseason workouts Monday at the team's practice facility. Workouts are set for this week, next week and April 16-20. Voluntary practice sessions are on tap for April 24-26.
--Club officials have scheduled a rookie mini-camp for May 4-6 at the team's practice facility. And OTA sessions are planned for the weeks of May 17, May 24 and June 6. A veteran mini-camp is scheduled for June 12-14.
--Wide receiverAustin Collie tweeted about the first day of offseason workouts: "Just got done with the first day, Coltsnation should be happy. Love the players we have and the new staff. Getting it done." Collie and veteran Reggie Wayne are two of the team's top returning pass receivers for the 2012 season.
"As soon as you step foot in (the locker room), it's time to forget about (the players no longer on the team) and move on with what we've got," he said.
--LinebackerPat Angerer on offseason workouts and new players on the roster: "I like the vibe here. Everybody is fired up and motivated. Everybody is excited."
--QuarterbackDrew Stanton, who came to the Colts in a trade with the Jets, said that he considers himself the Colts' No. 1 quarterback for the time being. Stanton, though, understands that the team will select either Stanford's Andrew Luck or Baylor's Robert Griffin III with the No. 1 pick in this year's draft.
--Only a few Colts players retained the same lockers that they used during the Tony Dungy andJim Caldwell coaching regimes.
Wide receiver Reggie Wayne, safety Antoine Bethea, linebacker Robert Mathis and linebackerDwight Freeney are in the same lockers that they've used for several years.
Everybody else have been scattered throughout the locker room. Wayne and Freeney, though, have been reduced from two lockers each to just one. But that may change later.
--Team officials have also removed some of the old signs that have been in place in the locker room since Tony Dungy was hired in 2002. Jim Caldwell had kept those signs in the locker room when he took over as coach.
--Many of the returning Colts players are still trying to adjust to all of the changes on the team's roster since the end of the 2011 season. That adjustment is most readily apparent in the locker room. "I look at those (new) names (on the lockers), and (I'm like) 'Who's that?'," linebacker Robert Mathis remarked.
--The National Football League and the Colts released the team's 2012 preseason schedule. Official dates and times have yet to be finalized, but Indianapolis will face theRams, Steelers, Redskins and Bengals.
The Colts game at Washington, which will be televised nationally by NBC Sports, will feature the top two quarterbacks in this year's draft -- Luck and Griffin.
--Indianapolis is expected to take Andrew Luck, who was put through his paces during a private workout for Colts coaches and administrators this past week. Indianapolis owner Jim Irsay continues to maintain that the team has not yet decided on either Luck or Griffin.
General manager Ryan Grigson, coach Chuck Pagano, offensive coordinator Bruce Arians, quarterbacks coachClyde Christensen and vice-president/director of player personnel Tom Telesco were on hand for the workout on the Stanford campus.
--Colts owner Jim Irsay tweeted about the team's private workout with Stanford quarterback Andrew Luck: "A Luck private workout 2day..we want 2b as thorough n disciplined n process of #1 pick..we wanted 2do private with RG3 (Baylor QB Robert Griffin III),but his agent said no."
--ThePittsburgh Tribune-Review reported that the Colts are looking at acquiring free-agent quarterback Byron Leftwich to serve as a backup to either Andrew Luck or Robert Griffin III. Leftwich played for three years with the Steelers under new Colts offensive coordinator Bruce Arians.
QUOTE TO NOTE: "In Baltimore, we brought everything but the kitchen sink. Everything, though, starts with the ability to stop the run. You can't do anything in this defense if you don't stop the run. Whenever we play somebody, the first goal during the week is going to be, 'Stop the run.' Because once we get them in a passing situation, make them one-dimensional, the crowd better get ready because we're coming." -- Colts DE Corey Redding on the changes that are in store for the Indianapolis defense.
NFL Team Report - Indianapolis Colts - STRATEGY AND PERSONNEL
After deciding to stay in Indianapolis, it was initially thought that DE Robert Mathis would wind up in the same type of role that Ravens outside linebackerTerrell Suggs plays.
But it appears now that defensive end Dwight Freeney will be that guy with the Colts.
DECory Redding believes having two players with the skills of Mathis and Freeney playing the same type of role is a good thing.
"Who do you block? They're both great speed pass rushers off the edge. Offensive line coaches are going to have to pick and choose who they want to single block. Either one is very talented. It's going to make our defense that much tougher to play against," Redding said.
1. Wide receiver: The Colts re-signed veteran Reggie Wayne and that's the good news. Austin Collie andBlair White are also both back as slot receivers. But Indianapolis lost Pierre Garcon to free agency. Getting a big, physical receiver who can stretch the defense would seem to be among the team's top priorities in the draft this year.
2. Cornerback: Indianapolis has been hit hard by injuries at cornerback the last two seasons. Third-year veteran Jerraud Powers, hurt in 2010 and 2011, has proven to be the team's best overall cornerback. Finding a dependable and physical play-making cover corner would help stabilize things in the secondary.
3. Defensive line: With the Colts expected to move into a 3-4 defensive scheme and away from the team's 4-3 alignment, finding a 3-4 nose tackle is paramount. There is currently nobody on the Indianapolis roster who can fill that role, although second-year DTDrake Nevis may get an opportunity.
MEDICAL WATCH: No updates.
FRANCHISE PLAYER: DE Robert Mathis (tendered at $10.605 million, quickly signed a new contract).
TRANSITION PLAYER: None.
UNRESTRICTED FREE AGENTS:
--LB Kevin Bentley was a late-season addition who joined the team due to injuries at linebacker. The jury is out as to whether he will be asked back for the 2012 season.
--DE Tyler Brayton is another possibility to return if he can find a role in the team's new 3-4 defensive alignment. Brayton was also signed in training camp last year and was a very capable backup.
--QBKerry Collins came out of retirement to play for Indianapolis early last season when it was apparent that Peyton Manning wouldn't be available. After struggling in his comeback with consistency and concussions, Collins is expected to go back into retirement.
--DTEric Foster, when healthy, has been one of Indianapolis' most effective and active defensive linemen. Undersized, he has outstanding quickness and speed to the football. Whether he figures into the Colts' new 3-4 defensive package is the question mark.
--OGJamey Richard is a former Colts draft pick who was released and then brought back to the team last year due to injuries along the offensive line. He can play center and guard.
--LBErnie Sims did a really nice job when he had a chance to play last season. Signed in training camp after bouncing around several other NFL teams, Sims' availability helped a struggling Colts defense. He might be back in 2012.
UNRESTRICTED FREE AGENTS (not tendered offers)
--TEAnthony Hill (not tendered as RFA) was a backup who saw very limited playing time with the Colts in 2011, primarily late in the season. Questionable as to whether he will be back for 2012.
RESTRICTED FREE AGENTS: None.
EXCLUSIVE RIGHTS FREE AGENTS: None.
--DE Robert Mathis: Franchise FA; $31M/4 yrs, $15MSB.
--WR Reggie Wayne: UFA; $17.5M/3 yrs, $7.5M guaranteed.
--WRDonnie Avery: UFA Titans; terms unknown.
--OTWinston Justice (trade Eagles).
--OGMike McGlynn: UFA Bengals; terms unknown.
--DT Brandon McKinney: UFA Ravens; 2 yrs, terms unknown.
--DE Cory Redding: UFA Ravens; $10.5M/3 yrs.
--CSamson Satele: UFA Raiders; $10.8/3 yrs, $5M guaranteed.
--QB Drew Stanton (trade Jets).
--S Tom Zbikowski: UFA Ravens; $5.5M/3 yrs.
--RBJoseph Addai (released).
--DEJamaal Anderson: UFA Bengals; terms unknown.
--LBGary Brackett (released/post-June 1 designation).
--S Stevie Brown: Not tendered as ERFA/Giants; $540,000/1 yr.
--SMelvin Bullitt (released).
--TEDallas Clark (released).
--G/TRyan Diem (UFA; retired).
--LBZac Diles (released).
--FBJerome Felton: UFA Vikings; $700,000/1 yr.
--WR Pierre Garcon: FA Redskins; $42.5M/5 yrs, $21.5M guaranteed.
--WRAnthony Gonzalez: UFA Patriots; 1 yr, terms unknown.
--CBJacob Lacey: Not tendered as RFA/Lions; terms unknown.
--QB Peyton Manning (released/failed physical).
--OTQuinn Ojinnaka: UFA Rams; $700,000/1 yr.
--QBDan Orlovsky: UFA Buccaneers; terms unknown.
--QBCurtis Painter (released).
--OGMike Pollak: UFA Panthers; $765,000/1 yr, $65,000 SB.
--CJeff Saturday: UFA Packers; $7.75M/2 yrs.
--TEJacob Tamme: UFA Broncos; $9M/3 yrs, $3.5M guaranteed.
--OGJaimie Thomas (released).
--LBPhilip Wheeler: UFA Raiders; 1 yr, terms unknown.