INDIANAPOLIS —After having spent much of the first four months of the year working as individuals to try to increase their chances of landing on various NFL teams' radars, most of the 60 players taking part in the Indianapolis Colts' rookie minicamp this weekend found themselves back in a much more familiar team setting.
But familiarity doesn't always equate to comfortability.
In fact, if any players are feeling any sort of comfort after three days of cramming plays and schemes into their brains and then going out to the field to try to execute said plays and schemes with any degree of success, then they probably didn't actually try very hard.
But all-in-all, first-year Colts head coach Frank Reich said Saturday he's been pleased with what he's seen out of the young guys since they arrived in Indy late Thursday afternoon.
"After evaluating these guys for a couple months, looking at them on film, talking to them in person, it's always good to get out there with them and see them on the field, live and in action, learning new systems, get a look at their body movement up close and putting together concepts and putting it together on the field," Reich said.
One of the main points of the rookie minicamp, of course, is to provide an NFL crash course of sorts to the newest crop of players, some of whom seem to adapt quicker than others.
But whether those players are draft picks, undrafted free agents or those being brought in on a tryout basis, Reich said the goal is to create a competitive environment in which a players' "status" is the last thing on the team's mind.
"There are those tiers, but the great thing about this camp is everybody gets plenty of reps and we get a good look at everybody," Reich said. "It's a great way to do it, it's a great opportunity for the tryout guys, especially. There have been instances where those guys make it and they're certainly on the list. We make it competitive, we try to give everybody a fair shot and you earn it out on the field."
That especially rings true in Indianapolis, where an undrafted free agent has defied the odds to make the team's initial 53-man regular season roster for the past 18 consecutive seasons.
Reich said he wouldn't be surprised if that extends into a 19th straight season in 2018.
"I remember as a player one time, Bill Parcells was my coach just for a very short time and him making the statement, something to the effect of, … 'I'm the most selfish head coach you'll ever play for because I'm always going to play the best 11 players. I don't care what round, how much money, so on and so forth.'" Reich said. "And I think that's obvious, but that's really what it's all about. You've got to prove it in the meeting room and out on the field and if guys get enough opportunities, it works itself out."
Reich said he tries not to parlay that attitude in the form of fiery, inspirational speeches, however.
He knows the players in the building this weekend are very well aware of the opportunity being presented to them.
"We want to talk to them right from the start about what the horseshoe brand of football is all about," Reich said. "We really echoed what was said at the first press conference, what was said at the first team meeting, kind of those core principles, those culture building things about a way that we have of doing things here. What the message is from our owner, Mr. (Jim) Irsay, all the way down through the coaches and how we're going to make this apply on the field.
"But then it's just a lot about the process and let's get to work," Reich continued. "You try to keep the speeches short and really, you just want to get in the meeting room and out on the football field and just start working with these players."
2018 Rookie Mini-Camp - PRACTICE 5/12