Mini-Camp is Highlighted by Open Practice Saturday at Lucas Oil Stadium
As Indianapolis Colts Head Coach Jim Caldwell addressed the media Friday afternoon at the Indiana Farm Bureau Football Center, one theme became clear.
This is a time to get better.
The way Caldwell puts it, it's not as much a request as an expectation during this weekend's mini-camp.
"We find a way to get better. That is what our goal is. We certainly aren't concerned with anything else other than that."
One thing Caldwell has concerned himself with this offseason is getting his players rested after last season. Twenty NFL teams played their final game on January 3 this past season. The Colts' final game was February 7, in the Super Bowl.
So while Caldwell acknowledged the offseason and improvement on the field is extremely important, so is rest.
"I have examined it, I've taken a look at it," Caldwell said. "We moved our entire offseason program back a bit to give us enough rest, ample time, so our bodies can heal and recover, give them an opportunity to still have enough time to strengthen as well. So, we condensed things a little bit toward the back end, took a little bit of the load off them."
So once the team assembled for offseason conditioning in mid-April, Caldwell stressed the importance of trying to figure out a way to get better every day during the offseason.
Quarterback Peyton Manning has an offseason project that he does every year, an incredibly detailed analysis of the previous season that takes months to complete, according to Caldwell.
"Every year, he kind of goes through this process where he and (Quarterbacks Coach) Frank (Reich) will sit down and take a look at what he was able to accomplish last year," Caldwell said. "They'll look at all his strengths and weaknesses. He'll review every single snap of every game that he played, and they will look at it, not just glancing over it, but I'm talking about in detail. They will take notes on every single throw, every single play call, every single check. From that, he will go through it and make a determination on where he thought he could improve in that setting. He will dissect his entire season that way, and then he'll set new goals for himself, just in terms of what he thinks he can accomplish."
Then Manning will take what he sees on film and design drills for himself to improve.
"I think the year before last, one of the things he said he wanted to do was improve his accuracy," Caldwell said. "He works each and every drill, just in terms of placing the ball where he wants to place it, and if he doesn't hit it right on the spot, he'll say, 'Hey, let's do that one again.' He'll repeat it. For most people, the initial pass would have been one that was highly acceptable, but for him it maybe wasn't right on the pinpoint of the left shoulder or maybe not right at the right ear. He is very, very precise."
The thorough analysis and drill repetition is what sets Manning apart from other players.
"He's a rare breed, and I'm not certain, when you look at everything he does – I haven't been around anyone other than him that does it the way that he does," Caldwell said. "He is certainly diligent about what he does from a football standpoint. I mean in all aspects, taking care of his body, eating the right foods, his preparation, in terms of game preparation and practice preparation. All of those things. He covers all those bases."
'Coach Who Shows Up'
Caldwell addressed the mini-camp absences Friday of veterans Antoine Bethea, Robert Mathis and Reggie Wayne, telling the gathered media that an old motto he lived by as a young coach was, 'Coach who shows up.'
He also pointed out that even during the regular season his team will not have every player available.
"You have to be able to adjust on the run, regardless of what the circumstances present," Caldwell said. "That's what we've always been accustomed to doing, year-in and year-out. That's why we've been a competitive team. We may suffer a number of injuries at different positions, but we always seem to be fairly stable, in terms of how we're able to function. Part of that is the way we handle these situations during this time of the year. We get down to business. We focus in on what we can control."