INDIANAPOLIS – This week's mini-camp is the culmination of spring work that started back on April 15.
Work has been done in three different stages over nine weeks, all leading to the three-day full-team session that runs Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday.
A number of practices have been open to media covering the team, and Wednesday's practice from 5:30 p.m. to 7:50 p.m. at Lucas Oil Stadium (there is no admission charge) is open to the public.
Here are five areas to watch as work concludes:
LaRon Landry – Signed earlier this year after a solid career start with Washington and the New York Jets (where he earned a Pro Bowl berth last year), Landry will team with Antoine Bethea to give the Colts a strong presence on the back end of the secondary. Bethea is a multiple Pro Bowler, as was Bob Sanders. They were voted in as a safety tandem in 2007. While the team seeks players who value Super Bowls more than Pro Bowls, having a safety combination capable of Pro Bowl honors is a boon for the Colts. The target for 2013 – Bethea's third Super Bowl and Landry's first. This will be his first work with the team.
Donald Thomas, Gosder Cherilus – The veteran free agent additions have worked with the starting unit through the spring at left guard and right tackle, respectively. Cherilus should join Anthony Castonzo to provide the Colts with a Boston College starting tackle tandem. Samson Satele and Mike McGlynn, both veteran free agents a year ago, have worked the interior. Ryan Grigson is expecting big things from Satele and McGlynn this year. Draft picks were spent in the third (Hugh Thornton) and fourth (Khaled Holmes) rounds and 16 players are competing on the unit. With the stated intent of a Pep Hamilton offense to run the ball, gelling and getting the right people is key. Fans will notice the size of the line – no players shorter than 6-3 (eight at 6-6 or 6-7) and only one, Satele (299), under 300 pounds. Quick, get him a biscuit. Ten of 16 linemen weigh at least 320 pounds.
Pep Hamilton – New to being an NFL coordinator, but not a newbie at all, Hamilton strides into the role held previously by Tom Moore, Clyde Christensen and Bruce Arians. His three predecessors directed a successful all-out attack, and so will he. Hamilton will do it with more of a dedication to rushing. Notice the line. Notice the tight ends. Notice the fullbacks (two of them). Ryan Grigson traded for one fullback – Stanley Havili – and the other, Dan Moore, seems like one big muscle that checks in at 235 pounds. The configurations of the linemen, tight ends and backs will be interesting. Thirty rushes a game is not out of the question.
Robert Mathis, Bjoern Werner, Erik Walden –** The newlywed Mathis will be a fish in water at the 'rush' linebacker position. His swim and spin moves are familiar sights for Colts fans and opposing quarterbacks. At 91.5, he could hit the magic 100-sack mark this season. Mathis would become the 30th player to do so. Werner and Walden have been sprinkled across the defense (to some degree when Mathis missed voluntary time). Getting them into the lineup is not necessarily an "either/or" matter for defensive coordinator Greg Manusky. Werner's motor is obvious. When asked this spring what he brings, Walden said, "I think Prime (Deion Sanders) said it best, 'L-P-D.' A leader, a play-maker and a dog. That's my mentality – go out and make plays, be a leader and be a dog. Refuse to back down from anybody, regardless of the opponent. Go out and lead by example."
(Tie) Defensive line, Andrew Luck – There are so many new components in veteran additions like Ricky Jean Francois and Aubrayo Franklin, plus Josh Chapman (new but not new). Cory Redding says the defense is much farther along than last year and the versatility of the sum of parts will be a compelling watch. So will Luck, who says the offense is "rolling." Two teammates, Reggie Wayne and Satele, say it seems like Luck is in career years six-to-nine, not his second. Fans have had a trained eye at that position for years. Luck showed talent, grit, moxie, leadership and nuances last year that should be in even greater supply this year. Enjoy.
LAGNIAPPE, or BAKER'S HALF DOZEN –** Come see a healthy Chuck Pagano on Wednesday. His last appearance in Lucas Oil Stadium was one of the most moving moments in the club's 30 seasons. Seeing Pagano in action and how his team responds to him is a great kickoff to season number 30 in Indianapolis.