INDIANAPOLIS – The 2013 rookie minicamp won’t be one filled with the intrigue of the first overall pick and skill position players all over the field.
Those needs were addressed last season and with the calendar turning to May, this year’s rookie class is about adding depth up front to sure up a team that showed the National Football League that the Colts were not going to be down for long.
For the first time together, the seven-man rookie draft class took the field Friday afternoon for their opening NFL practice.
“Last year was much different, obviously. We did have more holes to fill,” head coach Chuck Pagano said. “Guys were able to come in, especially on the offensive side of the football, and contribute early.”
“That doesn’t mean to say that some of these guys that we drafted or any of the tryout guys or college free agents can’t come in and contribute in some capacity, especially on special teams. With what we did in free agency, there’s not that many holes to fill. Some of the guys can come in and the pressure’s not on, so to speak, to get them ready as some of the guys last year.”
One of the players on the defensive side of the football who will be challenging for a starting spot is outside linebacker
The Colts first round draft pick was his usual sincere self on Friday afternoon standing just a few lockers down from the player he grew up playing with on Madden---
“(Mathis’) locker is right there,” Werner said with a wide grin. “I introduced myself (on Thursday). It was funny, he’s a good guy.”
“He seems like a really cool veteran who wants to help and I hope he does.”
On the other side of the football, perhaps the most intense individual portion of Friday’s opening practice came along the offensive line.
Colts third round draft pick
“I feel fortunate to have a relationship with the coach already established before coming into an organization like this and playing in the NFL,” Thornton said. “We’ve been able to connect. I’ve gone in and asked questions and it’s just nice to have that connection there.”
Lining up to the left of Thornton for nearly all of the afternoon practice was fourth round draft pick
With the trade of A.Q. Shipley earlier in the week, there are valuable reps to be had at the center position and the leadership of Holmes was evident early on Friday.
“The guy is brilliant, very sharp, very bright, makes all the calls,” Pagano said of the USC center.
“He picked up (things fast). It seems like he’s been here months the way he operated out here. He had that aura about him. He’s a very, very confident kid. I was very impressed with Khaled.”
Thornton and Holmes will be involved in a new offensive scheme this season with offensive coordinator Pep Hamilton brining in one of college football’s most balanced attacks.
The offensive line has received a lot of attention in the offseason but thanks to a pair of draft picks in the trenches, the coaching staff is liking what they are seeing up front.
“I feel great about the offensive line and where we are at,” Pagano said. “We are still going to be a power-run team and try to get ourselves in third-and-manageable. You’ve got to run the football, but we are still going to take our shots down field.”