INDIANAPOLIS – When Andrew Luck would arrive at the Indiana Farm Bureau Football Center around sunrise in recent weeks, the locker room was one of the lonelier places in the building.
But as Luck's rehab time spilled into the early-morning hours, the men in charge of protecting him were coming in for their own work.
Training during this part of the offseason (once the previous regular season ends all the way up to the start of the offseason program) is strictly voluntary, often with guys spread across the country working out on their own.
That was not the case for the Colts offensive line.
"There's seven or eight of them that have been here consistently working out," Luck says of the line working together in the weeks prior to the start of the team's offseason program. "It's nice for me because it meant I didn't have to be alone in the weight room and training room.
"They've been working their butts off. I think they understand to be an elite unit they have to do it together and work really, really, really hard and they are doing that. They are on their way. They are earning that right to be confident when they step on the field."
It's a group that Chris Ballard knew was going to be an important position to analyze when taking the job in late January.
Ballard has been pleasantly surprised by what he's seen on film.
The GM was then even more encouraged when he saw the work ethic of the guys working out together earlier this year.
"It's been fun to watch that group work together," Ballard says of the line. "They are all in the building working together. That's what you want.
"Part of the misconception on the O-line, that's it's about one guy. It's about those five guys playing together. They've all been in town. They've all been working. They've all been working together. And that's been fun to see, really fun to see."
Earlier this week, starting left guard Jack Mewhort was asked about the offensive line gatherings at the Indiana Farm Bureau Football Center.
Mewhort first provided some humor.
"You think about the NFL," Mewhort began, "the stereotypical NFL player is a cool guy that likes to get in warm weather and go to the night clubs. The opposite of that is our offensive line room. We're all pretty much Midwest guys. Le'Raven (Clark) is a Texas guy, but we don't have a ton going on socially. So we like to hang out with each other, and we enjoy each other. We're friends, and we've been through a lot together just in that year with those young guys. I think we really enjoy being together and laughing and hanging out. I mean that's all we do. Pretty much laugh, hang out and eat. That's the gist of it.
"We enjoy being around each other coming in here every day and pushing each other and kind of establishing that connection, so when we go out and hit the field that we kind of have a leg up and we're able to gel with each other better."
The debate isn't as loud, but it's still murmuring: Do the Colts need to find another starting offensive lineman in the draft?
"Personally, I think we got the guys that can get the job done," Mewhort says.
"I think we've seen flashes of that. The key is to keep improving."
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