INDIANAPOLIS – As the Colts hit practice on Tuesday, 70 percent of OTA work is in the books and three days of mini-camp work is ahead next week.
This is the second straight year Indianapolis is installing a new offense, and the point-person for the process, Pep Hamilton, says steady doses are in order to help facilitate a smooth process.
"I think we're pretty close," said Hamilton about if the offense is where he wants it to be at this point of the spring. "We're two-thirds of the way through OTAs, but I would say we only have 50 percent of our offense in at this point."
Players have been on hand since mid-April, but coaches could not start any form of on-field instruction until April 29. Even at that point, work was done on a limited basis.
When OTAs started on May 20, it was the first time offense-versus-defense work could begin.
While coaches have equated part of the process this spring as slinging mud against the wall to see how much sticks, the implementation is measured as it relates to the offense.
"We feel like as a staff it's important that our guys have more of a comprehensive understanding of the concepts we want to use in the run game and/or the pass game," said Hamilton. "We're really taking time to detail our scheme and not just I guess engulf them in a lot of volume at this point.
"The guys are working hard at it. The coaches are working hard to make sure players are on top of their playbook. We've made a lot of progress up to this point."
Hamilton has spoken throughout the spring about the intent to create pressure for opposing defenses. In his two years as coordinator at Stanford, his teams rushed 54.2 (2011) and 55.9 (2012) percent of the time.
The need for balance is palpable in Indianapolis. Last year, the Colts rushed only 39.7 percent of the time, out-attempting only three opponents.
Andrew Luck set an NFL rookie record with 627 pass attempts, while the club's overall attempts (628) were almost three-quarters of the two-season total (846) in Hamilton's offenses in 2011-12.
"We're going to find ways to have balance in our attack," said Hamilton. "We have to be able to run the football. Running the football is going to set up our passing game, set up our play-action passing game.
"It's going to give us an opportunity to create one-on-one matchups on the perimeter for Reggie (Wayne) and T.Y. (Hilton) and (Darrius) Heyward-Bey and, of course, our tight ends."
Hamilton oversaw a Stanford passing attack that completed 71.2 and 60.2 percent of its passes over the last two seasons.
Hamilton's aim to spread the ball across the passing attack created the desired balance among the units. Wide receivers combined for 206 receptions, 2,585 yards and 15 touchdowns from 2011-12, while tight ends had 179 receptions for 2,647 yards and 30 touchdowns.
Running backs caught 151 passes for 1,180 yards and 12 scores during that time, and Luck even chipped in with a 13-yard reception during his final season.
2011-12 Stanford Reception Distribution under Pep Hamilton (Rec-Yds-TD)
1-13-0 The Cardinal went 22-4 in 2011-12, twice reaching BCS Bowl games. Those offenses averaged 43.2 and 27.9 points per game and rushed for 210.6 and 174.3 seasonal averages to supplement the passing offen
Results like that hopefully will follow Hamilton to Indianapolis.
"We want to have balance. We want to create conflicts for our opponent," said Hamilton. "We want to make sure pre-snap they don't have any tips to what it is we want to do."
Three former pupils – Luck, Coby Fleener and Griff Whalen – labored in the offense, but their familiarity does not absolve them from seeing new principles.
"I think the fact they're familiar with the terminology, it's a definite advantage for the Stanford guys," said Hamilton. "At the same time, there are a lot of new wrinkles that we've explored and that we're going to introduce to our unit. Those guys, they have to put the time into studying the playbook as well."