HAND IN HAND

The Colts spent the weekend conducting a three-day rookie mini-camp for eight draft selections, 13 collegiate free agents and several first-year veterans. Colts Head Coach Jim Caldwell said the weekend was a combination of classroom learning and on-field work.

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Classroom, On-Field Work Each Imant in Colts Rookie Mini-camp

INDIANAPOLIS – The idea was to get the Colts' rookies acclimated.

And to do that in this past weekend's 2009 Colts rookie camp, which included eight draft selections and 13 collegiate free agents, Colts Head Coach Jim Caldwell said a multi-faceted approach was needed.

There was a focus on practice.

But also there was a focus on learning the playbook.

Two approaches, Caldwell said, with one simple goal:

Ensure the Colts rookies are ready for when it's more than just rookies.

"They're both extremely valuable," Caldwell said during the Colts' three-day rookie minicamp, which concluded Sunday at the Indiana Farm Bureau Football Center.

"We do not want just classroom work alone. It's tough to learn without doing. You do learn some things in the classroom setting, but you learn by doing as well. The combination of both is extremely important.

"They're congruent and work hand-in-hand for effective play."

Caldwell said the Colts' approach during the three days of work was three-fold, with player evaluation a low priority. The three goals, Caldwell said, were to get players acclimated to philosophy, techniques and fundamentals, teach Colts players how the Colts do things and teach players the pace at which the Colts operate.

The Colts' eight draft selections, including running back Donald Brown from the University of Connecticut – attended, as did 13 collegiate free agents, a group that included former Notre Dame and Indianapolis Roncalli defensive tackle Pat Kuntz.

"We were all running around having a good time," Brown said during the three-day session. "Like the coaches said, 'This is a learning process, a learning weekend. You're going to make some mistakes. You've just got to make sure you're giving all your effort, and you'll be alright.'"

About 10-12 first-year veterans also attended, with Caldwell addressing several recent news items early in the camp, including the re-signing of veteran linebacker Freddy Keiaho.

Keiaho, a third-round selection in the 2006 NFL Draft, became a free agent in late February. He re-signed with the team last week, giving the Colts a linebacker corps that now includes four players – Keiaho, Gary Brackett, Clint Session and reserve Tyjuan Hagler – with extensive starting experience.

The Colts also this offseason signed fifth-year veteran Adam Seward, who Caldwell said earlier likely will backup Brackett in the middle. Second-year strong-side linebacker Philip Wheeler was a third-round selection in the 2008 NFL Draft from Georgia Tech, and Caldwell said Keiaho's signing gives the Colts a deep group.

"That's something we'll start to look at even in OTAs," Caldwell said. "They will all be here and we'll have the opportunity to put them through their paces and see how it indeed unfolds. The great thing about it is we do have some experience. It was an area where we were a little thin.

"He comes back and certainly helps us in that area. He knows the system. He's also been a very gallant special teamer as well. We're pleased to have him back."

Caldwell also in mini-camp addressed the status of cornerback Marlin Jackson and running back Mike Hart, each of whom sustained season-ending injuries last season.

"They all are doing very well," Caldwell said of the Colts' injured players. "They are all making very good progress and right on schedule."

The Colts are scheduled to hold one more mini-camp, a mandatory three-day event for veterans that will be held June 5-7, with a Saturday afternoon practice to be held at Franklin College on June 6. The Colts' organized team activities are scheduled to begin May 19, with players scheduled to report to training camp at the Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology in Terre Haute, Ind., on Sunday, August 2.

Caldwell said the Colts currently have 87 to 88 players on the roster, and Caldwell said the current roster is likely "fairly close" to the one the team will take to training camp.

"This is the makings of it," Caldwell said. "We have somewhere in the neighborhood of 87 or 88 guys right about now. We go to camp with 80. We'll have to make some decision towards the end of our OTA's."

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