INDIANAPOLIS – After nine weeks of continuing to build the foundation for Year Three of Chuck Pagano's program, the head coach felt it was time for a little earlier then scheduled break.
Pagano gave the Colts veterans a head start on their 34-day break until training camp by keeping veterans off the practice field on Thursday morning.
Here are a few takeaways from the final day of minicamp:**
Veterans Get Day Off**
When Chuck Pagano and his coaches sat down for a Thursday morning staff meeting, they were pleased with what they had seen over the previous nine weeks.
As a reward, the coaches gave the Colts veterans (pretty much every player with at least two years of experience) the final day of minicamp off.
Along with the Colts rookies, players such as Daniel Adongo, Josh Chapman, Jack Doyle, Khaled Holmes, Montori Hughes, Josh McNary, Xavier Nixon, Jeris Pendleton, Da'Rick Rogers, Hugh Thornton and Bjoern Werner all took part in the hour long practice session on Thursday morning.
The veterans did not leave the Indiana Farm Bureau Football Center without a message though from Pagano with training camp 34 days away.
"It's vacation but it isn't vacation if you're chasing that thing (pointing to the Lombardi Trophy picture in the Colts indoor facility)," Pagano said.
"We talked about being smart, doing the right thing, make great choices, staying in the playbook, working at their craft day-in-day-out."**
Reggie Wayne Speaks**
After Reggie Wayne gave a glimpse of his physical work to the media on Wednesday with some straight line sprinting on the Colts adjacent practice field, No. 87 opened up about his rehab to reporters on Thursday.
Wayne admitted that his motivation has gone from trying to prove people wrong, to wanting to be accountable for his teammates.
"I felt like I kind of left them hanging a bit last year. I want to be back out there with my teammates, guys that do anything possible to go out there and play," Wayne says.
"I'm geeked about showing people what I can do at 35."
Wayne said it won't be a problem for him to be ready for training camp in July, yet he did joke that he might have to pack a few boxing gloves to fight off Chuck Pagano from keeping the 14-year vet away from the practice field until he's fully ready.
"Like I told our receivers coach (Charlie Williams), I'm that Chevy that's in the garage," Wayne said.
"Once you open that garage, I'm out. I'm just waiting for them to tell me that I can go out and suit up and be a normal football player."
Erik Swoope Catching The Eye Of Pep Hamilton**
When asked about Dallas Clark earlier this week, Colts offensive coordinator Pep Hamilton, who's system accentuates tight ends, talked about a player of Clark's breed is a bit rarer today with all the "NBA, power forward body types that are playing tight end."
Erik Swoope is trying to fall into that category, who also just happens to be getting his first taste of organized football.
As the Colts offseason program comes to a close, Swoope has put on about 15 pounds and hopes to add around 5-10 more to get around 250 pounds for training camp.
He's caught the eye of a tight-end friendly offensive coordinator.
"It's been a pleasant surprise just to see how he's been able to acclimate himself to the game of football," Hamilton says of Swoope.
"His natural-born talents show every day in practice. He does an amazing job of going up and catching the football, making difficult catches. He has a catching radius that's off the charts. It'll be interesting to see how he comes along during training camp when we put the pads on and actually start practicing football."**
Where Does Josh McNary Fit In At Inside Linebacker?**
A bit of a forgotten name throughout the Colts offseason program is Josh McNary.
The Army product joined the Colts last training camp and quickly found himself running with the first team nickel defense.
A hamstring injury sidelined him for the rest of the preseason but he eventually worked his way up from the practice squad to a key contributor during the Colts playoff stretch run.
Chuck Pagano marvels out how far McNary has come in the last 11 months even though the head coach isn't quite sure where the inside linebacker fits in alongside Jerrell Freeman and D'Qwell Jackson.
"He's done a tremendous job," Pagano says of McNary. "Obviously, (he) has a much better understanding of the system, the terminology, the scheme, playing in both base and in our sub packages. From a measurable standpoint, he's got great athleticism."
"We'll just wait to get out of these shorts, get to training camp, get the pads on, get some preseason action and let things shake out."