INDIANAPOLIS – The hype around the NFL this week is about the 2017 Draft, which starts Thursday.
But inside of NFL buildings, there is plenty of work being done with those currently on rosters.
The Colts will conclude Phase One of their offseason program later this week.
Phase One spans two weeks with the main focus on strength and conditioning.
Starting next Monday (May 1), the Colts will ramp things up with their offseason program. Phase Two begins then, meaning the next three weeks of work will include individual player instruction and drills (with coaches on the field) as well as team practice conducted on a "separates" basis. No live contact or team offense vs. team defense drills are permitted.
Here's a look at six takeaways from Tuesday's media session after the Colts concluded their sixth day of the offseason program:
League's Leading Receiver Tired Of Missing Postseason
What does the NFL's leading receiver do for an encore?
That's the task for T.Y. Hilton going into his sixth NFL season.
Hilton's 1,448 receiving yards last year led the league.
Where Hilton must continue to grow is how he leads probably the most competitive position group on the roster.
Donte Moncrief and Jacoby Brissett, who have played behind Hilton the last couple of years, are nearing the end of their rookie contracts.
Moncrief and Dorsett are expected to be pushed for playing time by veteran newcomer Kamar Aiken.
"They know what the signing of Kamar means," Hilton said on Tuesday. "I'm going to push them. In the weight room, on the field, just continue to get better, whether it's texts, making sure they're studying, making sure they are on point, on cue, to come in here and compete."
Hilton is eager to see how Moncrief bounces back from an injury-plagued 2016.
"Donte can be very special," Hilton says of Moncrief, who enters a contract year in 2017.
"He has the potential to be great. If you want that money, go ahead and go get it."
With Andrew Luck expected to be held back to some extent this offseason, Hilton must assume more of a leadership role on offense.
"We've got to take back the division," Hilton says.**
2017 Offseason Program - Week Two - Day One HIGHLIGHTS
Jabaal Sheard Makes White House Trip**
Wednesday is the off day during the offseason program for the Colts.
Jabaal Sheard spent his off day last week visiting the White House.
Sheard was there with his former team, the New England Patriots, after capturing Super Bowl LI last season.
"That was a dope experience, one of the dopest experiences I've had," Sheard says of being honored at the White House. "I would love for every one of my teammates to experience that."
The Colts will be asking a lot out of Sheard this season.
They signed him to a three-year deal and would love for his 36.0 career sacks in six NFL seasons to lead the pass rush in Indianapolis.
With the Colts, Sheard is learning a totally different defense.
All the new faces here in Indy has definitely upped the energy level, according to Sheard.
"Guys seem excited, hungry, just from working out and seeing how hard guys are working, how tuned in guys are in the meeting rooms," Sheard says. "Everybody has their iPad open, pen and paper ready to write.
"I feel a great energy."22nd Season Beckoning For Adam Vinatieri
It is indeed a quieter special teams room for the Colts in 2017.
The comedian, and one of the NFL's best punters, Pat McAfee has retired.
Jeff Locke is the new punter, teaming with Adam Vinatieri to form the third different kicking duo during Vinny's dozen seasons in Indy.
"It's different dynamics for sure," Vinny said of McAfee's personality no longer around. "Jeff is a good dude. He's working hard. I've watched a lot of film on him now and he's a great punter, as well. He's done a nice job the last four years in the league.
"But definitely different not having Pat in the locker room. I've got to pick up the slack in being the smart aleck a little bit."
Locke and Vinny will begin working together on the field next week.
From a routine standpoint, not much has changed for the future Hall of Fame kicker.
A kicking progression that builds up to Training Camp is there again for Vinatieri, after he's missed just seven field goals over the last three years (92.1 percent).
On Tuesday, Vinatieri was asked about his NFL draft experience.
There wasn't one for Vinny.
He went undrafted in 1995, sat out that season of football, before playing for the Amsterdam Admirals of NFL Europe in 1996.
And 22 years later, Vinny is on the verge of becoming the greatest kicker in NFL history.
"I had a few teams that said we are not going to draft you, but we are interested in bringing you to camp. That didn't happen."
Look who's laughing now.
"Shame on them," a smiling Vinatieri says.Combine Training Not Holding Ryan Kelly Back In 2017
The start of 2017 has been totally different for Ryan Kelly compared to this time last year.
There was no January college football playoff. No preparing for Combine drills. No Combine or Pro Day. No uncertainty of where your home was going to be the first next five years.
It's football time for the second-year center.
On Tuesday, Kelly said the constant training towards the Combine/Pro Days can "wreck" a player's first season.
Kelly's training this offseason has been much more football centric, with the offensive line working out together in Indy this spring.
Looking back on his draft experience, Kelly had one interaction with the Colts from the Combine until the Draft (a sit-down with offensive line coach Joe Philbin).
Despite the minimal contact, Kelly thought the Colts were going to call him when pick No. 18 came last April.
"I always had this weird feeling that I was going to be in Indianapolis," Kelly said on Tuesday.
"I got the call with the Indianapolis area code and I was pretty ecstatic."**
John Simon No Longer "Hating" Colts Offense**
When John Simon fired off this tweet on Monday, it was clear he was enjoying his new home.
This time last year, Simon was not a fan of the Colts.
He is now.
"I definitely know the offense here and I've known to hate these guys, so it was hard to try and be friends with them," a joking Simon said when meeting the media for the first time on Tuesday.
In reality, yes, Simon used to dislike the Colts.
After a week and a half of work, that's changed quite a bit.
"They've been great guys," Simon says of his new teammates.
It's early, but Simon sees a lot similarities in the Colts defense to what he did down in Houston for the last three years.
Simon also had defensive coordinator Ted Monachino as his position coach during his 2013 rookie season in Baltimore.
The familiarity with Simon's new home in Indy added one more layer earlier this month.
Former college teammate (at Ohio State) Johnathan Hankins joined the defensive re-building with the Colts.
Hankins' presence should only help Simon this year.
"That takes guys off me when he's in there taking two," Simon says of Hankins absorbing double teams. "I know he's going to help the defense a lot. He's a great player, works hard, smart football IQ.
"It's a huge piece, especially for the inside linebackers, being able to get downhill on run plays fast and not have guards climb to them."
Wide Open Inside Linebacker Competition Adds Jon Bostic
Before a 2016 season-ending foot injury, Jon Bostic had last missed a game due to injury as a freshman in high school.
Bostic has returned to health and signed with the Colts last week.
Chris Ballard was a scout with the Bears in 2013, when Chicago selected Bostic in the second round.
A handful of drafts later and the two are reunited in Indianapolis.
With 18 career starts, Bostic brings some much-needed experience to a position with two starting spots up for grabs.
"I want to come in and establish myself," Bostic says. "I'm healthy (and) I see a big opportunity for me. I know I'm a three-down backer that can play inside/outside."
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