INDIANAPOLIS – The Colts were destined last year to rely on a number of new faces as they fielded an offense.
The top four draft choices were offensive players, with three ticketed to start – Andrew Luck, Coby Fleener and Dwayne Allen.
T.Y. Hilton, a third-round pick, emerged, as did the team's fifth-round pick, Vick Ballard.
Among the choices last year was LaVon Brazill in the sixth round, and he possessed the talent as well to get on the field.
Brazill did to the tune of 15 outings and a playoff appearance in Baltimore. He wants more in 2013, and he will have to do it in a new attack.
"My rookie season was great. We had a great season and I met a lot of good guys," said Brazill. "I need to get into the playbook again because we have a new offensive coordinator. I need to stay focused and stay humble.
"I need to keep doing what I'm doing. I need to make plays and hopefully get that third (receiving) spot."
Brazill found playing time behind Reggie Wayne, Donnie Avery and Hilton. It was a five-man unit that also had rookie Nathan Palmer.
Brazill was able to have receptions in nine outings, but he only had one in the last quarter of the season. It was a learning experience.
"My rookie year, I was kind of uptight," said Brazill. "I was tight before games. Now, I understand the routine of game week and of game day. I know how fast the game is. I think knowing the routine will have me more ready to go."
Brazill started 40-of-49 games at Ohio, catching 187 passes for 2,515 yards and 18 touchdowns. It was a productive career and prepared him as well as any program, but the amount of mental work necessary in the NFL was an eye-opener.
"It was surprising to me," said Brazill. "In school, you watch film but now, you're all football. Film, film, film – it's the most important thing to do.
"I need to work on getting in and out of breaks, running crisper routes. I need to learn to catch the ball better. I have to work on my whole game. I'm hoping to do those things better this year. Physically, I'll feel better. Sixteen games is a long season. I think my body adapted to the 16 games."
Chuck Pagano sees a young player with talent who needs to continue the maturation process mandated in a tough league.
"LaVon's a guy we know has the talent. It is there, he just has to put it together," said Pagano. "Talking about guys who can make a jump in year two, I think he understands what it takes to be a pro. Having a guy like Reggie Wayne and seeing the success that T.Y. Hilton had will help LaVon moving forward from a day-to-day standpoint of coming to work, doing good jobs in meetings, practices and to Sundays.
"He is an outstanding talent. LaVon can run and jump. He has excellent hands. With another year under his belt and a year of maturity, I think we're going to see great things from him. We all know LaVon can run. From a mental standpoint and from catching balls, just become more consistent."
Brazill was hamstrung a bit last year by having to miss OTAs because of academic work. It affected Luck as well, and Brazill intends to use the spring to his advantage now while learning a new offense.
"It's kind of a surprise (to have to learn a new offense), but I think I have more of a feel for the game now," said Brazill. "I have a good feeling about how to study and remember plays and things like that. It's coming easier to me now than it did before."
Brazill competed to the fullest. One of his key plays last year was a 42-yard scoring reception at Detroit with 2:39 to go in a game where Indianapolis erased a late 12-point deficit to win.
He wants more moments like that, and he used an in-house tool to help him find ways to make plays.
"Reggie (Wayne) taught us (young guys) everything," said Brazill. "He taught us how to get off press coverage when a guy was pressing you. He taught us how to read coverages. There are way more coverages here than in college. He helped, and it's something I have to learn more about. Reggie is a great role model, like a big brother to us.
"I was very happy to have a chance to get on the field. We were a young team and there were a lot of us out there. People were saying we weren't going to win two games, and we went out and showed them we had talent, that we could play and could compete with the older guys."
Wayne had 106 receptions for 1,355 yards and five touchdowns last year. It was his fourth 100-reception season, his eighth 1,000-yard year and his sixth 1,200-yard season. One of 14 players to top 13,000 reception yards (968-13,063, 78 TDs), he set the NFL record last season with 64 straight games with at least three receptions.
Hilton caught 50 passes for 861 yards and seven touchdowns, setting the club rookie mark with five 100-yard games. His 17.2 reception average was the best by a Colts rookie receiver in a non-strike year since 1986, and he was only the second NFL rookie since 2000 with such an average. Hilton held a 27.2 average on scoring receptions.
Palmer returns for a second year, and he is joined on the unit by Jeremy Kelley, Jabin Sambrano, Griff Whalen.
Darrius Heyward-Bey, 6-2, 216, joined the Colts after playing four seasons with Oakland. Heyward-Bey was the seventh overall choice in the 2009 draft and he caught 140 career passes for 2,071 yards and 11 touchdowns.
This past season, Heyward-Bey had 41 receptions for 606 yards and five touchdowns. In 2011, he had 64 receptions for 975 yards and four scores in 2011, including three 100-yard games. Heyward-Bey's addition to the Colts comes in large part as a replacement for Donnie Avery. Timed at 4.3 at the 2009 Combine, he adds a speedy presence to an Indianapolis passing attack.
"We feel great about acquiring a talented player in Darrius Heyward-Bey," said General Manager Ryan Grigson. "He's big, strong and shows toughness in traffic and after the catch. He's got elite finishing speed that's as good as there is in the NFL.