INDIANAPOLIS – As the veterans hit the exits for a weekend away from the offseason program, the Colts are staying busy with the 2017 rookie class.
The team's three-day rookie minicamp will run Friday-Sunday, with open practices to the media on Friday and Saturday.
In this year's minicamp, the Colts have their 8 draft picks, 18 undrafted free agents and 42 tryout players---an extremely high number compared to past years.
What should fans be looking for at the rookie minicamp?
**No Hooker At Practice
**When the Colts drafted Malik Hooker two weeks ago with the 15th overall pick, they knew his debut on the field would not come during the offseason program.
January surgeries on Hooker's hip and groin will have him sidelined until Training Camp.
After being drafted by the Colts, Hooker said he was around 85-90 percent physically.**
**"He's going to be fine," Chuck Pagano said of Hooker's health after the Colts took him in Round One.
"(Hooker's return) won't be until (Training Camp), probably. We knew that. But again, we've exhausted every resource that we've had. Our doctors and trainers have done a phenomenal job in communicating with their people. There was no hesitation, even with the hip and groin surgery that he went through. He'll be fine."
Hooker will be present though for meetings this weekend and go through the rest of the rookie minicamp schedule.**
Corners Be Ready
**If you're looking for one position that could be called upon early in 2017 it's the cornerback group.
Quincy Wilson (second round) and Nate Hairston (fifth round) were the two cornerbacks drafted by the Colts. Before those two, the Colts had selected just one corner in the five previous drafts.
When Vontae Davis met the media earlier this month, he was not shy in expressing a need for guys like Wilson to come in and be ready for a major role right away.
At Florida, the 20-year-old Wilson, who does not lack confidence, was rated the SEC's top cornerback, per Pro Football Focus.
**A New Pass Rusher Arrives
**It's been quite a while since the Colts had a pass rushing draft pick as high as Tarell Basham (third round).
The Colts hope spending a third-round pick on a pass rusher will enhance their chances of flipping the script in the recent absence of pressure created.
Basham, 6-4 and 249 pounds, will be transitioning from a 4-3 defensive end to a 3-4 outside linebacker with the Colts.
At Ohio University, Basham had 29.5 career sacks, 42.5 tackles for loss and was named the MAC's Defensive Player of the Year last season.
If Basham can show some early pass rushing, he's going to find his way onto the field for a team desperate for a young edge presence.
**Undrafted Guys To Watch
**The Colts have 18 undrafted free agents in 2017.
It's a foregone conclusion their streak of having a UDFA on their Week One roster will extend to 19 years, with Thomas Hennessy the long snapper (see below).
Chris Ballard has mentioned RB-Dalton Crossan (New Hampshire), TE-Darrell Daniels (Washington) and CB-Reggie Porter (Utah) as undrafted guys to watch in 2017.
As the regimes have changed in Indianapolis, the importance of finding UDFAs has not diminished.
"Those guys are every bit as important as our draft picks," Ballard says. "We don't have camp bodies. In my mind, there's no such thing as a camp body. If they're not good enough to make us better, then we need to find somebody better that can upgrade that spot."
**It Gets Real On Monday
**When the rookies wrap up the offseason program on Sunday, there will be little time to rest.
The rookies will get things started back up on Monday, when the veterans return to Indianapolis for the final five weeks of the offseason program.
Rookies will enter the offseason program with the Colts wrapping up Phase Two. OTAs will start a week from Monday (May 22).
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