INDIANAPOLIS – The Colts are one of 29 teams that started Organized Team Activity (OTA) practices this week, and Wednesday was the third such workout for the team.
OTA practices are a part of Phase Three of the voluntary off-season workouts, the initial time when offensive and defensive units can work against each other.
The Colts went through their 90-minute session today (wearing helmets and shorts – no pads are worn until training camp) outside in windy and mostly cloudy conditions. Indianapolis was outdoors on Monday, while moving inside for Tuesday's OTA.
Only a handful of players are not here, and the majority of the squad went through brisk paces that included individual drills, offense-versus-defense, seven-on-seven, team run, blitz work and some situational football.
With 37 players being new to the team, along with two new coordinators (Pep Hamilton, offense; Tom McMahon, special teams), the importance of work is obvious.
"It's real important for me being in my second year in the defense," said Antoine Bethea. "It gives me familiarity with the defense some more.
"With the new players we have, especially in the secondary, just getting that camaraderie on the field is very important. It's important being out here and getting it done."
Among the newcomers is cornerback Greg Toler, who joined Indianapolis from Arizona as an unrestricted free agent. Toler had three passes defensed in Wednesday's work.
"Greg Toler is out there making plays. We have some young guys out there who really are stepping in. I'm excited," said Bethea.
Andrew Luck is in his first OTA sessions. Last year, Luck participated only in the rookie camp and mini-camp. In finishing up his academic work at Stanford, he missed this valuable work time.
"It's nice to be in it. These are my first OTAs," said Luck. "I missed these last year. I think it's great to get out on the field with the defense and troubleshoot some stuff. Just to be out on the field with the guys going against something other than air is fun."
Luck suffered red zone interceptions by Kelvin Sheppard and Cassius Vaughn, though he was sharp in other work.
"It stinks when you throw interceptions in the red zone. I'm not happy about that," said Luck. "I guess the silver lining is that it's our defense. Hopefully, we'll get some of those during the season. The defense is playing well."
Defensive line coach Gary Emanuel is among the 16 returnees on the 20-member coaching staff. He was able to get around his players in Phase Two of workouts that started on April 29, but this week is the first where the team mixes things up in action.
"OTAs are valuable. For the coaches, we get a chance to get our hands on the guys here," said Emanuel. "We can work with them, and we can really have them go through their techniques in all the drills we want them to do. We can improve their fundamentals.
"For coaches, it gives us a chance to get coaching again. We sit in meetings quite a bit to get prepared, looking at film and putting your scheme and plans together for when you get out on the field. Speaking personally as a coach, I would always rather be on the field than sitting in the building."
Among the players not participating Wednesday were safeties Delano Howell, LaRon Landry, Joe Lefeged, John Boyett and Larry Asante, cornerback Sheldon Price, linebackers Josh McNary, Pat Angerer and Robert Mathis, guards Donald Thomas and Ben Ijalana, wide receiver Reggie Wayne, defensive ends Cory Redding and Fili Moala, nose tackle Brandon McKinney, defensive tackle Aubrayo Franklin and running back Delone Carter.
Angerer said he still is mending from last season's broken foot that cost him five games and required more medical attention this off-season.
Indianapolis will have its full-squad mandatory mini-camp from June 11-13. Training camp is scheduled to start near the end of July.