INDIANAPOLIS – Any complete evaluation for an NFL offensive line this time of year should be put on hold for at least a couple of more months.
Full pads are not coming for the boys in the trenches until early August.
Colts offensive line coach Joe Philbin wants to use some caution in describing the progress for his unit.
But for what can be done this time of year, Philbin is pleased.
"I think they've made a lot of strides in things they can control," Philbin said as the Colts approached the halfway point of the offseason program. "Right now, they can't control how physical they are doing things because we are not at that phase yet. But in terms of the time, the effort put forth to prove themselves physically, whether it's change of direction, knee bend, physical strength, all those things we forget about, they are definitely making progress."
It is a group that is largely intact from how they ended the 2016 season.
Plus, the offensive line is now in Year Two of learning Philbin's technique.
That process had all linemen, no matter the professional experience level, starting from Day One last year.
Philbin's line ended the 2016 season with three rookies in the starting lineup.
Nowadays, finding rookies that are pro-ready bodies along the offensive line can be a little more challenging.
Especially with a guy like Joe Haeg starting at three different spots last year, Philbin liked the progress of his three rookies (Haeg, Ryan Kelly and Le'Raven Clark).
"Overall that transition from college to the NFL, the speed of the game is the biggest thing," Philbin says. "There are odd defenses in college. There are nickel defenses, there's dime. There's bear defense. So I think a lot of that is maybe a little bit overrated.
"I think the pure speed and athleticism down in and down out and week in and week out, that's really what they have to get used to today."
It's no secret if the Colts can see the development up front continue in a positive direction, the offense could become one of the league's best.
Before the physical part of the line is graded in 2017, the other stuff is passing the test.
"They enjoy being around one another," Philbin says of the needed cohesiveness from the line. "It's more fun that way. In coaching, if you enjoy the staff that you're with on a daily basis that makes things more fun to be around. It's kind of amazing. You don't know if it's the chicken or the egg, but the great teams that I have been a part of seem to have great chemistry and the coaches like the players, the players like the coaches and they like one another. It's a nice big tea party and everybody loves each other."
The Colts hope the merriness lasts quite a while in 2017 for the offensive line.
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