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Indianapolis Colts


Thirty-seven rookies and first-year Colts players went through a final day of camp on Sunday that had only a morning practice. Five sessions were held over the weekend as many new players got a first-hand look at the club’s culture and playbook.


INDIANAPOLIS – In baseball terms, the last day of a three-game series typically is called, "getaway day."

Sunday was the final day of camp for 37 rookies and selected first-year players, but it was anything but a getaway day.

The majority of players will remain on hand at the Indiana Farm Bureau Football Center to continue the indoctrination into the club's on-field schemes and off-field culture.

Only one player – cornerback Sheldon Price (UCLA) – will depart for a return to campus.  Others are thrilled to have the chance to stay put.

"For sure (it's nice to be here to stay).  You get to just play football, and you love to play," said Hugh Thornton.  "You can support your family by doing this and don't have to worry about classes.  You can focus on football now.  I'm ready to go."

Last year, only three players were unable to remain in Indianapolis after rookie camp because of academic work – Stanford's Andrew Luck and Griff Whalen and Ohio's LaVon Brazill.

Mental retention from the classroom to the field was a pre-camp priority for Chuck Pagano.  Consider it mission accomplished in that regard.

"From a mental standpoint, we threw a ton at these guys," said Pagano.  "You're always leery because you want to have a good practice.  You want to be efficient.  You want to get in and out of the huddle. 

"You don't want to have quarterback-center exchange (problems), a bunch of mental errors or guys running into each other.  Probably mentally (I was pleased the most).  These guys handled a ton of information and did a nice job with it." 

Pagano noted Thornton worked largely at right guard, saying it was important for progress sake to keep young players anchored at one spot.  Rotating duties in his view would retard growth, saying, "We're going to let him settle in there and get comfortable.

"Athletically, you could see what these guys could do, especially the draft choices.  We're real pleased with all those guys.  Even the tryout guys did a nice job.  The mental part of it was really good."

Thornton said he is an offensive lineman who loves to play the game and will do so wherever needed.   

AROUND THE COLTS – The morning practice ran from 10:20 to 11:35 and was held indoors.  It was the third straight day work was done inside.  Temperatures were in the mid-60s the first two days and today the temperature was in the high-40s under sunny skies.

Like the other two days, the pace of the practice was crisp and players were able to merge classroom instruction to on-field execution.

The camp ended with on a positive note with the team performing a red zone drill.  The team was doing its "Detroit" scenario where a must-win play had to be executed.

The name of the drill came from last year's 35-33 win in Ford Field where Andrew Luck hit Donnie Avery on a 14-yard touchdown pass at the gun.  The play capped a 75-yard drive that followed a touchdown-producing 85-yard drive as Indianapolis scored 14 points in the final 2:39 for a compelling win.

Today, Tanner Marsh zipped a 20-yard scoring pass to Justice Cunningham to conclude the rookie camp.  It was a last-play chance with the scenario having four seconds left in the game. 

Pagano said the camp would have been over regardless of the outcome of the play.

THE DIFFERENCE OF A YEAR – Free agent center Rick Schmeig is two-for-two, spending consecutive weekends in rookie camps.

Schmeig, from Purdue, was a tryout in Jacksonville's camp last weekend before signing with the Colts on the eve of this week's camp.

Jacksonville is in the first year of a regime change under Gus Bradley, just as the Colts were this time a year ago with Chuck Pagano.

"I was a tryout.  There were guys around me who already signed.  I was trying to play on their level," said Schmeig.  "A new staff, a new head coach came in for them.  They were trying to implement something new and get the tone set. 

"Here, it's already been in place.  You're just rolling with it.  The mindset was a little different, the new guys were trying to set the tone."

Schmeig started 29-of-45 games at Purdue, opening 26 at center over his last two seasons.  His experience at Jacksonville was positive, and he likes the instructive nature he finds with the Colts.

"When you make mistakes, they're not going to scream, they're not going to do anything crazy like that," said Schmeig.  "They just tell you what you did wrong, tell you what you need to fix.  To me, personally, that's a huge help.  I like that. 

"You fix it without that tone, but sometimes you need that tone to get yourself going.  They definitely take time with you and let you know how to fix it.  You ask questions.  I definitely like it here."

ROSTER MOVE – The Colts waived free agent cornerback Nigel Malone of Kansas State and signed free agent corner Allen Chapman, also of Kansas State.  Chapman went through the rookie camp as a tryout.

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