Caldwell on the 2010 Rookie Mini-Camp: 'They're going to make some mistakes'
INDIANAPOLIS – Pat Angerer's assessment was quick and not particularly glowing.
But as the Colts' coaches and personnel officials see it, how Angerer – a rookie middle linebacker from the University of Iowa – saw his first day of 2010 rookie mini-camp was not only very, very typical of all the rookies participating this weekend, it just as much was very, very expected.
"I made a lot of mistakes out there," the second-round 2010 draft selection said.
The Colts' assessment of that assessment? That's OK.
And very, very normal.
"We try to give them a fairly large amount of material," Colts Head Coach Jim Caldwell said Friday during the first day of Colts 2010 Rookie minicamp at the Indiana Farm Bureau Football Center.
"At the beginning, they're going to make some mistakes. It's a bit different than what they've been accustomed to. It moves a little quicker than what they're accustomed to.
"We just tell them to hang in there. They're not going to make the team or get cut from the team this weekend or anything of that nature."
Such is the Colts' approach to the three-day rookie mini-camp, which is scheduled to run through Sunday. The Colts use the time to give rookies information, help them get acclimated and begin the adjustment process of adapting to professional football.
The Colts' eight selections in the April 22-24 NFL Draft participated in the camp, as well as 16 rookies who signed as collegiate free agents and several other younger players.
The mini-camp is the first official NFL work for a rookie draft class that included not only defensive end Jerry Hughes, the team's first-round selection from Texas Christian, but five other defensive players: middle linebacker Pat Angerer (Iowa, Round 2), cornerback Kevin Thomas (Southern California, Round 3), defensive lineman Ricardo Mathews (Cincinnati, Round 7), outside linebacker Kavell Conner (Clemson, Round 7) and cornerback Ray Fisher (Indiana, Round 7).
The Colts also selected Tennessee guard Jacques McClendon in the fourth round and Oklahoma tight end Brody Eldridge in the fifth round.
The Colts on Friday also announced the signing of the following collegiate free agents:
Michigan State defensive end Trevor Anderson (6-0, 241), William & Mary safety David Caldwell (5-11, 212), North Carolina cornerback Jordan Hemby (5-11, 190), Western Michigan quarterback Tim Hiller (6-4, 229), Florida kick returner Brandon James (5-7, 176), Miami running back Javarris James (6-0, 215), Purdue cornerback Brandon King (5-10, 194), Cincinnati offensive tackle Jeff Linkenbach (6-4, 311), Indiana State safety Donye' McCleskey (6-0, 225), Buffalo defensive back Mike Newton (5-10, 197), Oregon State offensive guard Gregg Peat (6-3, 299), Michigan State kicker Brett Swenson (5-8, 173), Arizona linebacker Vuna Tuihalamaka (6-0, 230), Ohio defensive back Thad Turner (5-11, 188), Fordham offensive tackle Andrew Tyshovnytsky (6-4, 317) and Michigan State wide receiver Blair White (6-2, 205).
"The only thing you can tell is what they look like as athletes, and nobody's out of place," Colts President Bill Polian said. "The rest of it is all, 'Let's see how fast they learn. Let's see how fast they develop.''
Polian said in some situations there is a large difference between one rookie and another at a certain position, but that such differences could lessen quickly.
"There might not be a huge difference by the time we hit August 1," Polian said. "We'll see."
Under NFL rules, rookies may not work with the team after this weekend, but most can return for the start of organized team activities May 16.
Caldwell said there are three things the Colts want to accomplish over the weekend.
"No. 1, we want to make sure they understand the culture in terms of how we do things – how we do, what we do, what we do and the pace with which we do things," Caldwell said. "Those three things are extremely imant."
Caldwell said it's also important rookies grasp the extensiveness and nature of the strength and conditioning program.
"It's important that when they leave here they know how to continue getting themselves ready," Caldwell said. "There's a difference between college shape and professional football shape. They're learning that. Overall, it's more of an information session for them.
"It's more teaching our culture and how we do things than expecting them to grasp everything from a schematic standpoint."
As much as the day was about learning, there were moments when the players realized they had achieved a long-time goal, too. For some, that moment came when they entered the Colts' locker room, and for others, it came when Colts quarterback Peyton Manning and middle linebacker Gary Brackett spoke to the rookies early Friday morning.
For others, it came when they first put on the white helmet with the blue horseshoe.
"It felt great," Hughes said. "I loved being out there on the field. Putting on that white helmet felt even better. . . .
"Coming in and seeing my name on that locker, I said, 'Wow, I'm actually in the NFL now.''
And at the end of the day, Caldwell said while there was little evaluation, there was a positive early feeling.
"We got ourselves off to a good start," Caldwell said. "We have a very good class of young men. Right now, you can't do any serious assessments of what they're going to look like once they get pads on, but they seem to learn well and they adjust quickly."