Rookie Quarterback Picking Up The Colts' System Quickly
TERRE HAUTE – There are plenty of high school quarterbacks who grow up dreaming of playing for their hometown NFL team.
But there are few who actually do it. Colts quarterback Curtis Painter is one of them.
Painter, the team's sixth-round draft pick in 2009, played football at Vincennes Lincoln High School—about an hour south of the club's training camp site at the Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology in Terre Haute—before before going on to become a prolific passer and four-year starter at Purdue University.
Now, the rookie is living out his dream and playing quarterback for team he always has wanted to since he was little. And in his first week of training camp, Painter has received several friendly reminders of his southern Indiana roots.
"I had a lot of people from the Vincennes community come up and I got to see them," Painter said. "It's great to see some familiar faces in the crowd."
On the field, Painter is getting to know the faces that are not so familiar. So far, Colts Head Coach Jim Caldwell has been impressed with how quickly he is catching on.
"Our system is not an easy one to master. It takes a while and it's fairly complex," Caldwell said. "We're just trying to feed it to him a little bit at a time, but he's a smart guy. He's studious, and right now I think he's coming along well."
Painter admitted the team's playbook lives up to folklore, but said his comprehension is increasing.
"There is a lot of attention to detail and that's what is hardest to grasp," he said.
But the rookie quarterback does have some pretty valuable resources around him, which he has not been afraid to utilize.
"Just being around Peyton (Manning) and (Jim) Sorgi, those guys' experience with the organization is extremely helpful in meetings and on the field," Painter said. "It's a great opportunity to be around them and kind of listen and learn from them."
Painter said he has studied the leadership skills Manning and Sorgi possess and has been particularly impressed with how they carry themselves on and off the field.
"I have a lot of great guys in front of me to help out," he said.
With Sorgi out briefly after suffering a hamstring injury, Painter is getting increased practice repetitions and has begun working with the team's second-unit offense.
"You never wish to get reps this way," Painter said. "Hopefully, Sorgi can come back and (have a) speedy recovery, but it's certainly an opportunity to see more playing time."
Painter is likely also to receive the bulk of the snaps at quarterback in the team's first preseason game on Friday against the Minnesota Vikings.
"Due to the circumstances, he's going to get a pretty good amount of work," Caldwell said, "which will be good for him."
Painter has shown the coaching staff he can perform when called upon. In Saturday's mock game, he threw a touchdown pass to tight end Jamie Petrowski, a fellow southern Indiana native.
Caldwell said the coaching staff is limiting the amount of things Painter has to think about at the line of scrimmage and giving him the playbook in small chunks as he continues to develop.
"You hope to get to (Peyton Manning's level) at some point, but right now I'm just keeping it simple, sticking to basics, and hopefully it will slowly progress," Painter said.
With each passing practice, Painter said he hopes to continue improving. With talented quarterbacks in front of him and an experienced coaching staff around him, Painter said there is one key thing a player getting acclimated to a new team needs to remember.