INDIANAPOLIS – Chuck Pagano welcomed a bunch of wide-eyed players last year at this time in what was his first rookie camp as a head coach.
Refreshed and eager, Pagano is ready for round two, and he knows the camp that runs from Friday through Sunday is a stern crash course for draft pick and free agent prospects.
"It's probably more orientation than anything else – meeting protocol, practice protocol, walk-through protocol, how we do things," said Pagano. "That includes the training room and weight room (procedures, too). There's a ton of stuff that we have to get to these guys in a short amount of time."
Pagano has been involved through the combine and draft process and will welcome about 25-30 players.
Some orientation for the weekend starts today, but a fuller peek at the culture and program will be introduced soon, very soon.
"A good volume of it is orientation but at the same time, we have to accomplish what we need to get done from a football standpoint," said Pagano. "We're going to throw a lot of football at them from both sides of the ball and special teams.
"We're going to see what they can handle and what they can digest."
Linebacker Bjoern Werner headlines a cast of seven draft picks, while the rest of the participants are free agents signed earlier in the spring or after the selection process. A handful of tryouts also could be in the mix.
Pagano and his coaches talked openly last spring about the accelerated pace at which they taught players on the field. That process starts anew this weekend.
"It's a 'whole-part-whole' type of philosophy," said Pagano. "We're going to throw a bunch at them this weekend. They'll be around next week for the last week of Phase Two (of the voluntary work), so they'll be back in the meetings. We'll throw it at them again.
"We'll have an opportunity next week for five days to see exactly what they absorbed, what stuck. It's like throwing mud against the wall. We're going to throw a bunch at them and see what sticks."
Players last year did not complain as they noted the aggressive pace of instruction. A foundation was laid that reaped a good OTA process and training camp, and a number of newcomers were huge contributors during an 11-5 playoff-berth season.
Pagano has enjoyed emerging from meeting rooms and strategy sessions to get with veteran players on the field over the past few days of the voluntary workout program.
The final week of Phase Two sessions follow this weekend's camp. Phase Three of the off-season sessions opens on May 20, and work concludes with a veteran mini-camp from June 11-13.
A number of this weekend's participants will be on hand through then, and Colts-101 starts in earnest tomorrow.
"From that standpoint with them being here for the duration through the end of the mandatory mini-camp (in June) and even a week after that, we'll find out exactly what sticks with the new players," said Pagano. "It will be exciting again seeing (players) take information from a meeting, going to a walk-through and getting them out on the field in the afternoon.
"There's going to be anxiety. They're going to be nervous. There will be some mental errors. One thing we know, they're going to give great effort and they'll play fast."