INDIANAPOLIS —Brian Schwenke was progressing just fine from offseason foot surgery the first couple weeks of training camp, but he said his recovery hit an acceleration point on Aug. 10.
During that day's joint practice with the Detroit Lions, Ryan Kelly, the Indianapolis Colts' starting center, suffered a foot injury. One week later, head coach Chuck Pagano announced that Kelly would be undergoing surgery, and would likely miss at least the start of the regular season.
Now, Schwenke knew he couldn't do anything to risk a setback in his rehab and recovery, but he knew the team would be counting on him to come back as soon as possible as a veteran presence who could fill in at center or at guard during — and after — Kelly's absence.
And on Wednesday, Schwenke and the Colts got that opportunity, when the team restored him from the Physically Unable to Perform (PUP) List, allowing him to participate in his first on-field practice session since the last week of OTAs.
"It felt good," Schwenke said. "You know, it's been a long time since I played some football, so it felt good in that sense to get back out there with the guys. It's been so long since we've had that bond, you know, (from) when you weren't together, so, yeah, it was nice."
The Colts signed Schwenke during the free agency period in March to not only be Kelly's backup at center, but to compete for a starting spot at guard, as well.
In his previous four seasons with the Tennessee Titans, Schwenke had played in 41 games, 28 of which he started — most of which at center, until last year, when he got in some starts at guard, as well.
But during the last week of OTAs, Schwenke broke a bone in his foot, an injury that he said required the removal of that bone altogether.
"It's gone now," Schwenke said with a laugh on Wednesday.
He said he had "limited reps" in his first practice back, but did not feel any effects from his injury. The key now?
"You just don't want to push it too quickly," he said.
That's because Schwenke — who said he worked out at both center and guard at Wednesday's practice — and the Colts know there's a big date looming: Sept. 10; the 2017 regular season opener against the Los Angeles Rams.
Schwenke said he'd love to be 100-percent ready to go by that date, but is just focused on what's immediately in front of him at this juncture.
"I mean, I'm confident in my ability to play," he said. "You definitely want to get those reps under your belt — that's what training camp's for, and I missed most of that — so it's important to get out here, and it was important for me to get back and try to get as many reps as I could before that season starts, just so I can be comfortable and confident in my ability."
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