Offensive Installation Going Smoothly For Chudzinski

Intro: First-year Colts offensive coordinator Rob Chudzinski says it’s evident that his players kept their minds on football during their month away between minicamp and training camp, making the installation of the system much easier.

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ANDERSON, Ind. — The National Football League's offseason is a series of stop and go lights.

A coaching staff gets the opportunity to begin planning for the next season with its players in the meeting rooms, and then there's a break. Then, the momentum is started up once more for OTAs and minicamp before it's halted again for about a month and a half until training camp — and then the regular season — starts.

For some, that break between minicamp and training camp can be difficult to manage. As Colts offensive coordinator Rob Chudzinski put it on Sunday, "I can't remember what my wife told me a couple days ago and you're asking these guys to recall on things that they were doing a couple months ago."

So that's why Chudzinski has found that the installation of the team's offense during the first week of training camp has been pleasantly smooth, as it's clearly evident that his players used their time off to refresh, but stayed focused on the task at hand.

"It's obvious to me, and I'm pleased," Chudzinski said. "They did some work. They've worked out, they're in shape. They're in good football shape. We certainly have a long ways to go and we have a lot of things to get better at, but they put some work in over the summer time and it was good recall."

Any coaching staff tends to throw as much at it can at its players for the first couple weeks of training camp before tapering off to start the preseason and into the regular season; Chudzinski and the Colts certainly are no different.

From there, however, is when coaches expect players to turn what they've learned into production on the field.

"That's where you look for the execution to really start kicking in as you get your stuff in and you get chances to go over and over, rep, rep, rep, over and over again," Chudzinski said.

The Colts continue that process Monday with a 1:55 p.m. practice at Anderson University.Right guard spot not solidified
One of the main storylines heading into training camp for the Colts was the open competition at right guard.

Day four practice of the Colts 2016 Training Camp!

And, heading into Sunday, no decisions were close to being made — at least no decisions to which Chudzinski openly admitted.

Ideally, he said, the team would love to lock a starter into that role as soon as possible for continuity's sake, but "the most important thing and the No. 1 objective is getting the right five out there."

Chudzinski said in his experience, the competition will "play into some of the preseason games and it'll sort itself out."

"You're rushed to put a guy in or start this five and you say that and next thing you know you look around in training camp and somebody's doing really well," he said. "So you want to make sure you give those guys opportunities and give those best five and then you can start working them together."

Look for the first unofficial depth chart — released this week prior to the team's first preseason game against the Green Bay Packers — to offer some clues into the immediate picture at right guard. As of now, returning starter Hugh Thornton and Denzelle Good appear to be the frontrunners for the spot, but Jonotthan Harrison and Joe Haeg also are pushing hard for reps.'Best player' will win receiver spot(s)
The Colts know who their top three receivers are: T.Y. Hilton, Donte Moncrief and Jacoby Brissett. Beyond that, it's also assumed Quan Bray — who was electric as a kick and punt returner for the second half of the season last year — will be in the mix for that fourth or fifth receiver spot.

Whichever receiver steps up to earn the other spot is still yet to be seen, however.

Chudzinski said the plan is just to "go with the best player" for that spot (or maybe two spots, if the Colts keep six wideouts to start the season).

"Certainly you want a group at the receiver position that complements each other, that can do things well," he said. "You need a slot guy, you need an outside, you need all those type of things. That factors in too, a little bit. Again, I just believe that the best players are the ones that you need. It's my job to find a way to get those guys on the field and do the things that are going to accentuate their strengths."

The team lost one of its stronger candidates to fill that final receiver spot on Saturday, when veteran Brian Tyms was placed on Injured Reserve.

But Chudzinski is confident there are players vying for that spot that will be more-than-capable of getting the job done if they survive final cutdown day in a little more than a month.

"I'm excited about the group," he said. "A lot of guys that you see big strides every single day and then sometimes the day where they'll take a step backwards and that's kind of a part of being young and being inexperienced. But I feel like we've had some good reps here.

"When we get into those preseason games and who responds to being under the lights will be a big part of it as well."Gore is 'timeless'
Another offensive storyline heading into the season for the Colts is the perceived effectiveness of Frank Gore, who at 33 years old will be the team's starting running back for a second straight year.

Last season, with the quarterback position in flux and some shuffling going on up front on the offensive line, Gore was still able to manage to run for 967 yards and six touchdowns. But Gore, for his entire career, has hung his hat on 1,000-yard seasons, and the team hopes that with Andrew Luck back and healthy in 2016, that Gore can become the first running back 33 or older to achieve 1,000 rushing yards in a season since John Riggins accomplished that feat at the age of 35 in 1984 with the Washington Redskins.

Gore said recently that he's not limited in any way, shape or form, and that whenever he feels like he's lost a step, he'll retire from the NFL.

His offensive coordinator agrees that Gore should be in for another productive season in 2016.

"Frank is timeless," Chudzinski said. "Backs with great vision, like Frank has, in my opinion, they age well. He's able to see holes and find holes. He's still got great feet."

Chudzinski said the grind of being an NFL running back "hasn't gotten too old" to Gore, which is very important.

"He still loves being out there. He's like a kid playing," Chudzinski said. "We had the first day of pads, and he's yelling and screaming and having fun and wanting the ball and wanting to run certain plays and all that kind of stuff. Those are the guys that you love and you love coaching and you love having on your team."

Chudzinski cautioned against using the word "pitch count" to refer to Gore's workload for the upcoming season, but said the staff will try to be smart about keeping him fresh for the long haul.

"I think as a coach you assess that as you're going through the course of the season and you know. It also has to do with who comes through at that position as well," he said. "A big part of this camp is seeing at running back who's going to be the guy or the guys that come through and are able to make sure that when Frank is out, or if Frank is out, that we can operate at the same level as when he's in."

Vying for spots behind Gore at running back are Robert Turbin, Jordan Todman, Trey Williams, Josh Ferguson and recently-signed Abou Toure.

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