INDIANAPOLIS — There's a renewed sense of excitement in the air this week at the Indiana Farm Bureau Football Center, as the Indianapolis Colts' players have returned for the start of the offseason workout program.
Over the next couple months, the team will slowly begin building towards being completely ready for the grind by the time Week 1 of the regular season rolls around. There's a couple weeks of strength and conditioning work mixed in with classroom sessions with coaches. Then the on-field drills can commence and the various positions begin to take shape. Then the offense can begin working against the defense. Then they pull it all together for minicamp before taking a few weeks off and getting together once again at Grand Park Sports Campus in Westfield, Ind., for the start of training camp.
But for uniform junkies — and there are lots of you out there — this time of the year is also exciting for another reason: you get to learn what numbers the new guys are wearing, and who has switched their numbers heading into the offseason program.
Luckily, we now have that information. So, without further ado, here are three of the more major uniform number assignments/changes for the Colts:
» WR Deon Cain is now wearing No. 11.
» WR Devin Funchess has been assigned No. 17.
» DE Justin Houston has been assigned No. 99.
— For Cain, the move to No. 11 signals a likely permanent uniform number. Because of the 90-man offseason rosters, wide receivers are allowed to wear single-digits through the preseason, but once they make the regular-season roster, they must wear a number from 10 to 19 or 80 to 89; Cain wore No. 8 during the offseason last year, but suffered a season-ending knee injury in the first preseason game. Wide receiver Ryan Grant, who recently signed in free agency with the Oakland Raiders, wore No. 11 with the Colts last season. Other Colts players who have played in No. 11 in the past include Donnie Avery, Quan Bray, JaJuan Dawson, Bob Gagliano, Jeff George, Anthony Gonzalez, David Humm, Paul Justin, Greg Landry, Josh Lenz, Ed Luther, Kaipo McGuire, Jack Mildren, Ricky Proehl, Mike Quinn and Cory Sauter.
— Funchess, meanwhile, gets to stay in his familiar No. 17 in Indy. After wearing three numbers — Nos. 19, 87 and 1, respectively — at the University of Michigan, Funchess was assigned No. 17 by the Carolina Panthers, who selected the wide receiver in the second round of the 2015 NFL Draft. Those who have played in No. 17 in the past for the Colts include Kamar Aiken, Ray Brown, Chris Chandler, Austin Collie, Fred Enke, Chris Gardocki, Sam Havrilak, Lamar McHan, Hunter Smith, Tevaun Smith and Griff Whalen.
— Finally, after spending the first eight years of his career wearing No. 50 with the Kansas City Chiefs, Houston is truly getting a fresh start with the Colts in the No. 99 jersey, which had been worn the last two seasons by current free agent defensive tackle Al Woods. We'll check with Houston to see if he even made an attempt to lure the No. 50 off the back of linebacker Anthony Walker, or if the No. 99 was just his target from the start. Others who have played in No. 99 in the past for the Colts include Michael Brandon, Al Fontenot, Ricky Jean Francois, Antonio Johnson, Ed Johnson, Ryan LaCasse, T.Y. McGill, Al Noga, Mike Pelton, LaJuan Ramsey, Brad Scioli, Lance Teichelman, Donnell Thompson, Jonathan Welsh and Billy Winn.