Tweaked OTA Format Designed to Continue Offseason Improvement, Caldwell Says
INDIANAPOLIS – The format has changed a bit, but Colts Head Coach Jim Caldwell says the idea is the same:
To use the coming weeks as efficiently as possible.
And to be as prepared as possible for Colts 2009 Training Camp.
The Colts, a playoff team the past seven seasons, on Tuesday held the first of 10 scheduled "organized team activities," or OTAs, for the 2009 offseason as permitted under NFL rules. Caldwell spoke to the media following a morning practice, and said while the schedule has changed a bit from the past, the focus is the same:
Just get better.
Caldwell, who succeeded Tony Dungy as head coach in January, said 87 of 88 players currently on the roster are participating in OTAs, with the lone exception being three-time Pro Bowl wide receiver Reggie Wayne, who trains at the University if Miami in the offseason.
"We've had great response, and certainly the guys are performing extremely well," Caldwell said.
Caldwell said some of the early OTA sessions will be what the Colts refer to as "coaching sessions, which are sessions where we incore some of the conditioning aspects as well."
"We'll take a portion of the morning and focus in on schematic things," Caldwell said. "We divide it up and the offense and defense kind of work in separate areas, then we usually come back together and kind of finish the drill with some conditioning work."
The next two weeks also will include what Caldwell called "team sessions, where we actually work through the schematics both offense and defense."
"We'll work against one another," Caldwell said. "It's more a jogging-through session to try to familiarize everybody with their responsibilities."
Caldwell said the OTAs are intermingled with the strength-training sessions, which have been ongoing as the team's voluntary offseason conditioning program since late March.
Beginning in June, Caldwell said the OTAs will move into what the team calls "summer school," which he said are more traditional practice sessions.
"They're more what you're accustomed to seeing in terms of regular practice," Caldwell said. "Those will begin on the first of June."
The Colts are scheduled to hold OTAs May 19, 21, 26 and 28, June 1-3 and June 9-11, with a three-day mandatory mini-camp June 5-7.
"We'll go three days, off one day, three days of mini-camp, off one day, then three days to finish it up," Caldwell said. "We think we can get some pretty good, vital work in during that time."
Caldwell said the later "summer school" sessions will involve more 7-on-7 drills and team drills, and that the sessions are important for the overall development of the roster.
"We would certainly like to have everybody here," Caldwell said. "We think this is a place you can get better. It's designed that way. It's an atmosphere that is conducive to success, but we haven't done anything differently than we have in the previous years.
"Our response always has been good over the years. If you look back on it, it has been pretty consistent."
Caldwell said the work done in the coming weeks is important as a supplement to that done in training camp in August. The Colts are scheduled to report to 2009 Training Camp at the Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology in Terre Haute, Ind., August 2.
"Our philosophy really hasn't changed in that regard," Caldwell said. "We feel that if we have enough guys here to install the system and to put it in place, it will allow us to come a little bit later to camp. We won't have, necessarily, as long a camp as some other teams, so we try to fit into that philosophy."
The Colts typically have relied upon first- and second-year players to play important roles, a philosophy Caldwell said makes the OTAs "extremely important."
"That's kind of been the lay of the land around here, that we anticipate that there are going to be a number of guys who help us," Caldwell said. "I mentioned previously we average about 12 guys in that rookie class who participate for us. Last year, we had 18. This year, who knows what's going to happen.
"But certainly, you're going to have at least 12 guys who are going to have to play for us – a prominent role. So, this portion of our preparation is extremely important."