INDIANAPOLIS – Chuck Pagano oversaw his fifth OTA practice on Wednesday, marking the mid-point of that form of spring work that leads to a full-team mini-camp in mid-June.
An optimist who happens to be a realist, Pagano likes the progress of his team.
"We had another great day, a spirited practice, a lot of great situational (work) going on," said Pagano. "Participation has been outstanding. We're making progress.
"Our goal is to come out here with the intention of getting better at something every day – individually, as position groups, offense, defense, special teams as a team. We feel like we're headed in the right direction."
A large majority of the 90-man roster is in Indianapolis, with all players – which includes 37 new faces this year – getting large doses of information that is being implemented with the portion cleared to practice.
"We're throwing (a bunch at them)," said Pagano. "There's only so much you can do from a physical standpoint. You can tell how a good a shape they are (in).
"Really what we're (doing), we're throwing a lot of mud against the wall and seeing how much is sticking. From that standpoint, you can kind of tell a lot of where we're getting to.
"Guys are flying around. Guys are communicating. That's probably the biggest thing we can measure right now is that part of it – the communication, execution, technique, those things."
Offensive coordinator Pep Hamilton is installing a new attack, one based on some principles he used at Stanford, the collegiate home of three Colts offensive players – Andrew Luck, Griff Whalen and Coby Fleener.
"We're installing a whole new offense. Every day is a step in the right direction," said Fleener. "We pick up more and more and remember more and more from those days at Stanford.
"Our guys had no idea coming in what to expect. To try to get as much of the basics down as possible before we head into (training) camp is a big step. I think the mental aspect of the game this time of year is huge."
While Pagano says Luck's comfort level is good, 15-year veteran and three-time Pro Bowl quarterback Matt Hasselbeck is taking baby steps like others.
"I think things are going well," said Hasselbeck. "We're having a lot of fun. We're making mistakes. We just try not to make the same mistake twice.
"The coaches are throwing a ton of stuff at us. It's fun to get out there and actually compete against a defense. Guys are having a good time doing it. I'm still swimming with what I'm doing right now."
The number of Colts who work on a daily basis changes this time of year. Participants one day might sit the next, and Wednesday was such a case with two veteran additions – Darrius Heyward-Bey and Greg Toler.
"His status (Wednesday) was he tweaked a hammie (hamstring on Tuesday), nothing serious," said Pagano of Heyward-Bey. "This time of year we're obviously going to err on the side of caution. It was our decision to hold him out. We said, 'Hey, chill. We'll see how you feel tomorrow and put him back out there.
"(Toler has) a sore foot. He went full-practice yesterday. (It's) the same thing like DHB, we're going to err on the side of caution, especially this time of year and not push it. We have to protect those guys from themselves.
"(To) push him out there and force the issue with him, then have something serious happen this time of year would be not very smart on my part."
Unofficially, there were 19 players who did not work on Wednesday, though many still were on hand for mental reps on and off the field. Among those not working were Delone Carter, Joe Lefeged, John Boyett, Pat Angerer, Donald Thomas, Cory Redding, Fili Moala and Brandon McKinney.
OTAs continue on Thursday before a voluntary workout session on Friday.
It is the first time this spring players have worked on a Friday. This week was different with the team observing Memorial Day this past Monday.
Indianapolis will conclude OTAs from June 3-6. The three-day mini-camp is from June 11-13.