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NFL Team Report - Indianapolis Colts - INSIDE SLANT
It looks very much as if the Colts are going to be utilizing a fullback in the team's new "No Coast" offense that will be directed by first-year coordinator Pep Hamilton.
In past years, the Colts have had very little use for the position. Tight ends, offensive tackles and defensive tackles have lined up as run and pass blockers.
In fact, the list of former true fullbacks who have contributed on a regular basis are pretty easy to remember -- Jim Finn (2000-02) and Tom Lopienski,(2003-04).
There are two fullbacks currently on the team's roster (Stanley Havili and Dan Moore) and Indianapolis could very well add another one before the start of preseason games.
Havili, who joined the Colts on March 28 after a trade with the Philadelphia Eagles, fits exactly what the team wants from the position in Hamilton's offensive system.
He's got good size (6-0, 243), is a pretty good run and pass blocker who can also catch the football out of the backfield.
And then there's Moore (5-11, 240), an undrafted rookie who impressed enough during the spring minicamps and organized team activity workouts to warrant a longer look during training camp.
Hamilton wants to be able to run the football better, and more consistently, than the Colts have shown in recent years. Having a true fullback in the offensive backfield should help.
"I think we have to have a true sense of balance in our offense. We got to be able to run the football as well as pass the football. We're going to do whatever we need to do to score ultimately," the former Stanford offensive coordinator said.
"But a fullback, for us, being able to run the power schemes, being able to run the football, is a prize piece in our offense."
Hamilton said finding the fullback in the Colts' newly-designed offensive system shouldn't be too difficult.
"If you just follow the ball, a lot of times the fullback will be somewhere around. In our offense, we want to have that true sense of balance in our offense, once again. I think that's a big part of taking some of the burden off the quarterback position. Just being able to run the football when we need to run the football as well as throw the football when those opportunities present themselves."
NFL Team Report - Indianapolis Colts - NOTES, QUOTES
--A year ago, the Colts' training camp mantra was "Build the Monster" after coming off a dismal 2-14 season. This year, on the heels of an 11-5 campaign and a wild-card appearance in the AFC playoffs, the slogan is "Unfinished Business."
"It was no different than last year. We used that as motivation, obviously, but I think everybody, if you read the papers, everybody's still saying the Colts are fool's gold. I think I read that one. I shouldn't read that stuff but in this league what we did last year was last year. This is 'What have you done for me lately?' The National Football League, we're all judged by wins and losses, and so that was last year," Colts coach Chuck Pagano said.
"We can sit there and read the press clippings and pat ourselves on the back and certainly get complacent. We're not going to get complacent. You get complacent in this league, you go right back to where you were. It's kind of unfinished business for us."
--Pagano on the goals for the 2013 season: "Our expectations don't change. Ultimate goal is always a world championship. First and foremost, the easiest way to get into the dance is to win your division. Our first goal is No. 1, win the South. We got to try to take over the South. Houston's had it the last two years. This team and this organization has dominated the South for years and years and years and now we got to get it back."
--Colts general manager Ryan Grigson on his comfort level as he enters his second training camp with the team: "I don't know if you ever get comfortable. If you ever say the world 'comfortable' then you're probably not going to be around too long. So I don't ever really allow myself to be comfortable. That's the mindset in the building. We're always trying to get better. If we tell the players not to stop and smell the roses, then we better not be doing that ourselves."
--Grigson on the Colts' offseason issues, two players (wide receiver LaVon Brazill and former tight end Wesyle Saunders) have been suspended four games for violation of the league's substance abuse policies and one player (safety Joe Lefeged) was arrested: "Disappointment. Pure disappointment. The owner (Jim Irsay) was disappointed, Chuck (Pagano) was disappointed. That's all I can say. We weren't happy. We expect more out of our players and we won't stop having high expectations for those people."
--Defensive tackle Ricky Jean Francois, nose tackle Aubrayo Franklin and defensive end Cory Redding worked with the first defensive unit during the opening training camp practice.
--Rookie outside linebacker Josh McNary, who signed with the Colts as a free agent last spring, might be able to take part in his first practice as soon as Tuesday.
A standout defensive player at West Point, McNary was expected to finish up his commitment to the Army in late May or early June. The plan was for him to get some work in during the latter stages of the team's organized team activity practices.
"Yeah, he's going to be in here, hopefully, by Tuesday. We got to get all that squared away," Grigson said.
"With the military, each case is a little bit different so we have to make sure we're in tune with the league and our government and military. But we're looking forward to finally having Josh in here."
--It was only the first training camp practice, but second-year quarterback Andrew Luck finished the day by completing 22-of-34 passes with a pair of touchdowns and one interception.
--Thanks to an assist from Indiana University Health, wide receiver Reggie Wayne arrived for the first day of Colts training camp in one of the organization's Lifeline helicopters.
Wearing a black flight suit and accompanied by one of the hospital's patients, the helicopter touched down on one of Anderson University's auxiliary practice fields.
"We came in style," the affable Wayne said after exiting the helicopter with his left arm around 20-year-old Matt Sercer, who lives near Plainfield, Ind., and is recovering from a serious farming accident that occurred in December.
"I sat back and thought, 'We've got a pretty good team.' I really think our team this year is better than last year. And if we don't hurt ourselves, the sky's the limit for us. I really sat back and thought, 'Sky's the limit, sky's the limit.' Why not come in through the sky. So IU Health helped me do that. And we're here."
Wayne admitted that it's getting tougher to try and top himself each summer with his training camp arrivals. For previous training camps, he had used a cement truck, a large bus and a military Humvee.
"This is definitely No. 1. I don't know if you can outdo this one. This is tough. But I said that last year, all the other years, so we'll come up with something," he said.
--Wayne said the Colts can't afford to rest on their laurels after surprising most outside observers with their 11-5 record and wild-card playoff appearance.
"Every year, it's the same intensity to get better. Nothing more, nothing less. After every day, knowing you gave it everything you had on the practice field," he said. "Your brothers know that too, that you're there with them. Everything in that pot, you stir all that up, and you come up with hopefully a successful season."
QUOTE TO NOTE: "Our guys have been really receptive at understanding that you're going to have to study and put the time in to learn the details of our offense. Our offense is predicated on not wasting plays. We have to be very detailed and exact in everything we do. We want to be efficient but at the same time, we want to score points and score a lot of points. Our guys, they've worked their tails off over the course of the offseason to prepare themselves both mentally and physically to be ready to do whatever it takes for us to score touchdowns." -- First-year coordinator Pep Hamilton on how the Colts are doing learning a new offensive system.
NFL Team Report - Indianapolis Colts - STRATEGY AND PERSONNEL
The Colts signed outside linebacker prospect Daniel Adongo and waived tight end Weslye Saunders.
"We are excited as an organization with the acquisition of Daniel Adongo," said general manager Ryan Grigson.
"He is not only an elite athlete and rising international rugby player, but he is an exceptional competitor and human being that has the right makeup for our sport. We all look forward to watching his growth and development in the ensuing weeks."
Adongo (6-5, 257) is a 23-year-old Kenyan national who most recently played for the Southern Kings of Super 15 Rugby, the highest level of pro rugby in the world.
Previously, he played in the 2012 Varsity Cup for the University of Pretoria Tuks and is currently working toward earning his degree from the school.
In 2011, Adongo was signed by the Vodacom Blue Bulls, but was released from his contact after six months to join the New Zealand ITM Cup team Counties Manukau.
Saunders was originally signed by the Colts on October 16, 2012. He played in 11 games (four starts) last season and recorded two receptions for 15 yards.
He was suspended for the first eight games of the 2013 for violation of the league's substance abuse policies.
PLAYER OF THE WEEK: Wide receiver Reggie Wayne. The Colts' Pro Bowler started the team's 2013 training camp the way he ended the 2012 season.
Wayne was in mid-year form in the team's first two practices, coming up with several one-handed catches. Learning his third offensive system in three years, Wayne has shown no signs of slowing down in his 13th NFL season.
BATTLE OF THE WEEK: Inside linebacker. With Pat Angerer sidelined for now, Jerrell Freeman and Kavell Conner were the two starting inside linebackers. Inside linebacker Kelvin Sheppard rotated with Conner in nickel situations. Sheppard was acquired during OTAs in a trade with Buffalo for former Colts defensive end/outside linebacker Jerry Hughes.
After setting a franchise record with 203 tackles last season, Freeman appears safe as a starter at one inside linebacking position. Angerer (when healthy), Conner and Sheppard will be vying for the other spot.
--ILB Pat Angerer (foot) has been placed on the physically unable to perform list. No word on when he will be able to be activated to the training camp roster.
--RB Ahmad Bradshaw (foot) has been placed on the physically unable to perform list. No word on when he will be activated to the training camp roster.
--G Hugh Thornton has been wearing a walking boot on his right foot. No word on the type or extent of the injury or how long he will be sidelined.
--NT Brandon McKinney, who sat out the 2012 season after suffering a knee injury early in training camp, did not take part in the team's first practice. It's hoped that he will be available to return to the practice field soon.
--NT Josh Chapman also missed the 2012 season after undergoing knee surgery. He has been cleared to practice and took part in the Colts' opening workouts.
--G Ben Ijalana, who missed the last two seasons with injuries, made it through his first practice without any issues.
QUARTERBACKS: Starter -- Andrew Luck. Backups -- Chandler Harnish, Matt Hasselbeck.
Luck heads into his second year in the league in pretty good position to make huge improvement in his game. First of all, he was able to attend all of the Colts' offseason and OTA workouts this past spring. That's something he couldn't do a year ago due to school commitments. He has a year of league experience under his belt. And, most importantly, his former coordinator at Stanford -- Pep Hamilton -- is now running the Indianapolis offense. Improving completion percentage along with doing a better job of avoiding turnovers are the primary objectives. The addition of Hasselbeck gives the Colts their best primary backup in nearly a decade. Harnish is still learning his way.
RUNNING BACKS: Starter -- Vick Ballard. Backups -- Ahmad Bradshaw, Donald Brown, Delone Carter, FB Stanley Havili, Dave Meggett, FB Dan Moore), Kerwynn Williams.
The addition of Bradshaw toward the end of OTA workouts put the starting job up for grabs. Ballard was the top man for most of last season and was spelled by Brown and Carter. If healthy though, Bradshaw is the most complete back on the Colts roster. Getting and staying healthy will determine how much Bradshaw plays in 2013. Carter might be the odd man out due to continued injury issues. Havili was an offseason addition to give the Colts at least one fullback on the roster, although Moore could play that role, too. Williams is expected to get his feet wet on special teams as a kickoff and punt returner.
TIGHT ENDS: Starter -- Dwayne Allen. Backups -- Justice Cunningham, Coby Fleener, Dominique Jones.
Allen and Fleener give Indianapolis perhaps the best one-two tight end punch in the AFC if not the entire league. They're both entering their second seasons in the NFL. Allen and Fleener are big, quick and athletic. They can become game-changers as downfield receivers. Cunningham was a seventh-round pick last spring and impressed during OTAs. Jones was a big backup contributor a year ago.
WIDE RECEIVERS: Starters -- Reggie Wayne, Darrius Heyward-Bey. Backups -- LaVon Brazill, T.Y. Hilton, Jeremy Kelley, Nathan Palmer, Rodrick Rumble, Lanear Sampson, Jabin Sambrano, Griff Whalen.
Wayne is coming off an outstanding season. Hilton burst onto the NFL scene as a rookie last year and is expected to be even more involved in the Colts offense in 2013. The addition of Heyward-Bey gives the Colts a big, quick and extremely athletic downfield threat. His biggest issue in Oakland was with consistency. Brazill is suspended for the first four games of the regular season due to violation of the league's substance abuse policy. He has the ability to match Hilton as a big-play performer. How hard he works at it remains to be seen. Palmer and Whalen are expected to make a big push during training camp.
OFFENSIVE LINEMEN: Starters -- LT Anthony Castonzo, LG Mike McGlynn, C Samson Satele, RG Donald Thomas, RT Gosder Cherilus. Backups -- OG Justin Anderson, OT Emmett Cleary, C Khaled Holmes, OG/OT Ben Ijalana, OT Jeff Linkenbach, OG Joe Reitz, C Rick Schmeig, OT Bradley Sowell, OG Hugh Thornton, OT Lee Ziemba.
Castonzo had a solid second year as a starter for Indianapolis. The Colts will have two new starters on the offensive line with the addition of Thomas and Cherilus through veteran free agency. That number could end up at four by the end of the season if rookies Thornton and Holmes are as good as most people think they are. Reitz and Linkenbach have proven to be good backup guys who can step in and start if needed. The jury is still out on Anderson and Ijalana, who have both battled injuries during their short NFL careers.
DEFENSIVE LINEMEN: Starters -- DE Cory Redding, NT Josh Chapman, DT Ricky Jean Francois. Backups -- DT Aubrayo Franklin, DE Lawrence Guy, DT Kellen Heard, DT/NT Montori Hughes, DT Ricardo Mathews, NT Brandon McKinney, DE Fili Moala, DT Drake Nevis, NT Martin Tevaseu.
Redding is the lone returning starter after a strong season in 2012. Chapman returns after missing his rookie year with a knee injury incurred in college. Jean Francois moves over from San Francisco and is expected to move right into the Colts' starting lineup. Chapman had a great spring and could be a major difference-maker on the defensive line for Indianapolis. McKinney, who missed all of last season with a knee injury, Franklin and Moala are all quality backups who could start. Mathews and Nevis could be on the bubble during training camp. Hughes is a project who has huge upside physically.
LINEBACKERS: Starters -- SLB Erik Walden, MIKE Kavell Conner, WILL Jerrell Freeman, RUSH Robert Mathis. Backups -- ILB Pat Angerer, ILB Mario Harvey, OLB Justin Hickman, ILB Scott Lutrus, OLB C.O. Prime, OLB Caesar Rayford, ILB Kelvin Sheppard, OLB Lawrence Sidbury, OLB Quinton Spears. Military reserve list -- OLB Josh McNary, LB Daniel Adongo.
There is a bit of a shakeup at linebacker for the Colts heading into the 2013 season. Walden comes over from Green Bay and will start on the strong side. With Dwight Freeney no longer on the roster, Mathis moves over to the rush linebacker spot. Conner, Angerer and Sheppard -- picked up in a trade with Buffalo for former first-round pick Jerry Hughes - figure to battle it out for one of the inside linebacking positions. Freeman made a huge impression as a first-year starter last season as he led the team in total tackles. He is expected to be even better this time around. Indianapolis has good depth at linebacker with Harvey, Hickman and Sidbury ready to play if needed.
DEFENSIVE BACKS: Starter -- LCB Vontae Davis, SS LaRon Landry, FS Antoine Bethea, RCB Greg Toler. Backups -- SS Larry Asante, SS John Boyett, FS Sergio Brown, CB Darius Butler, CB Allen Chapman, CB Josh Gordy, CB Marshay Green, CB Sheldon Price, S Daxton Swanson, CB Cassius Vaughn, CB Teddy Williams.
Toler and Landry give Indianapolis two athletic and hard-hitting defensive backs. The starting secondary of Davis, Landry, Bethea and Toler -- if they can remain healthy -- can develop into a pretty solid group. Landry's addition should help fortify a leaky run defense. Butler, Vaughn and Williams provide pretty good depth at cornerback. Brown has shown glimpses of his skills, but needs to do it on a more consistent basis. The Colts added some young defensive backs -- Boyett, Chapman, Price and Swanson -- who could develop into pretty good players.
SPECIAL TEAMS: K Adam Vinatieri, P Pat McAfee, LS Matt Overton, P/K Brandon McManus.
Vinatieri is entering the final year of his Colts contract. He remains, however, one of the best clutch placekickers in the league. McAfee handles punting and kickoffs for Indianapolis and is also the team's primary holder. He is playing 2013 under his franchise player contract. Overton took over last year as Indianapolis' long snapper and did a nice job in a tough situation. McManus was impressive during OTAs and may end up on the practice squad. Hilton, Vaughn, and Williams are all expected to get long looks as punt and kickoff returners.
FRANCHISE PLAYER: P Pat McAfee (tendered at $2.977 million; signed tender April 2).
TRANSITION PLAYER: None.
UNRESTRICTED FREE AGENTS (not tendered offers)
--WR Austin Collie (not tendered as UFA).
--OT Winston Justice (not tendered as UFA).
--RB Mewelde Moore (not tendered as UFA).
--LB Jamaal Westerman (not tendered as UFA).
RESTRICTED FREE AGENTS: None.
EXCLUSIVE RIGHTS FREE AGENTS: None.
DRAFT CHOICES SIGNED (all picks signed)
--LB Bjoern Werner (1/24): 4 yrs, terms unknown.
--G Hugh Thornton (3/86); $2,735,380/4 yrs, $545,380 SB.
--C/G Khaled Holmes (4/121): $2,580,108/4 yrs, $420,108 SB.
--NT Montori Hughes (5/139): $2,361,972/4 yrs, $201,972.
--S John Boyett (6/192): $2,260,300/4 yrs, $100,300.
--RB Kerwynn Williams (7/230): $2,209,824/4 yrs, $49,824.
--TE Justice Cunningham (7/254): $2,205,896/4 yrs, $45,896.
--CB Darius Butler: UFA; terms 2 yrs, unknown.
--CB Josh Gordy: ERFA; 1 yr, terms unknown.
--OG Jeff Linkenbach: RFA tendered at $1.323M with no compensation); $1.323M/1 yr.
--P Pat McAfee: FFA; $2.977/1 yr.
--DE Fili Moala: Potential UFA; 1 yr, terms unknown.
--G Joe Reitz: ERFA; 1 yr, terms unknown.
--NT Martin Tevaseu: ERFA; $555,000/1 yr.
--CB Cassius Vaughn (RFA; tendered at $1.323M with no compensation); $1.323M/1 yr.
--RB Ahmad Bradshaw: FA Giants; terms unknown.
--T Gosder Cherilus: UFA Colts; $35M/5 yrs, $10M SB/$16.5M guaranteed.
--NT Aubrayo Franklin: UFA Chargers; 1 yr, terms unknown.
--QB Matt Hasselbeck: FA Titans; $8M/2 yrs.
--FB Stanley Havili (trade Eagles).
--WR Darrius Heyward-Bey: FA Raiders; $3M/1 yr, $1.5M guaranteed.
--DT Ricky Jean Francois: UFA 49ers; $22M/4 yrs, $8.5M guaranteed/$6.5M fully guaranteed.
--S LaRon Landry: UFA Jets; $24M/4 yrs, $14M guaranteed.
--LB Kelvin Sheppard (trade Bills).
--LB Lawrence Sidbury: UFA Falcons; terms unknown.
--G Donald Thomas: UFA Patriots; $14M/4 yrs, $1M SB.
--CB Greg Toler: UFA Cardinals; $14.25M/3 yrs, $5M guaranteed.
--LB Erik Walden: UFA Packers; $16M/4 yrs, $8M guaranteed.
--WR Donnie Avery: UFA Chiefs; $8.55M/3 yrs, $2.25M SB/$2.55M guaranteed.
--LB A.J. Edds: Not tendered as RFA/Dolphins; terms unknown.
--LB Moise Fokou: UFA Titans; $2.8M/2 yrs.
--LB Dwight Freeney: UFA Chargers; $8.75M/2 yrs, $3.25M SB/$4/75M guaranteed.
--DE Clifton Geathers (traded Eagles).
--G Tony Hills: Not tendered as UFA/Bills; terms unknown.
--LB Jerry Hughes (traded Bills).
--NT Antonio Johnson: UFA Titans; $850,000/1 yr, $250,000 guaranteed.
--RB/KR Deji Karim: Not tendered as RFA/Texans; terms unknown.
--G Seth Olsen: Not tendered as RFA/Vikings; terms unknown.
--CB Jerraud Powers: UFA Cardinals; $3M SB.
--C A.Q. Shipley (traded Ravens).
--QB Drew Stanton: UFA Cardinals; $8.2M/3 yrs, $3M guaranteed.