INDIANAPOLIS – Chuck Pagano is taking his 11th trip around the NFL block, but it is his first time as a head coach.
Nevertheless, Pagano is well-versed in indoctrinating young minds to the NFL way. He has a decade's worth of experience taking in-coming rookies and getting them up to speed in an NFL culture.
He has done it for Cleveland, Oakland and Baltimore. Now he is doing it with the Colts, and Pagano knows the ropes in setting a proper path for players hopeful for a successful career.
It is first things first.
"Number one, learn the protocol as far as how to be a pro – getting in the playbook, knowing what to do, being on time, coming out (on the field) knowing how to practice, knowing how to line up, knowing the snap count, learning your plays," said Pagano. "Really the biggest thing in being a pro is learning that as fast as you can."
There are many preparatory steps taken this time of year to teach new players how to learn the professional culture. Some of that process is on the field, and Pagano wants players attuned to the smallest of details. There is no need for a big-picture view.
"It's a process. It's a process. It's just like a game," said Pagano. "We talk about a game (being) 60 minutes, all you have is one play at a time. You don't look at the product. We know what the product looks like. We have that vision, we have that dream. Right now, we have to work the process, and that's the day-to-day stuff."
Pagano worked approximately 40 rookies a total of two hours and 15 minutes during two sessions on Friday. The schedule calls for the same work on Saturday before the camp concludes with a morning session on Sunday.
Pagano has a positive manner in his method, and he enjoyed seeing the rookies work for the first time as Colts.
"Absolutely, fresh faces, a lot of youth, a lot of energy, a lot of excitement," said Pagano. "(We) threw a ton at these guys in a short period of time, when you think about the volume of offensive information they got, defensive information, special teams (instruction).
"Again, it was a walk-through type of setting the way the rules are set up. It was a great opportunity for all these guys to get together, get to know each other, players learning players, coaches learning players. I felt like for the first walk-through they did a great job."
The undrafted free agents in this weekend's rookie camp include defensive end James Aiono, defensive tackle Chigbo Anunoby, offensive tackle Steven Baker, defensive back Cameron Chism, defensive end Kevin Eagan, defensive back Antonio Fenelus, offensive guard Jason Foster, linebacker Chris Galippo, offensive guard Hayworth Hicks, defensive back Buddy Jackson, tight end Dominique Jones, safety Matt Merletti, safety Micah Pellerin, wide receiver Jabin Sambrano, punter Brian Stahovich, safety Latarrius Thomas and wide receiver Griff Whalen.
Jones had a tryout with the club prior to the draft and officially signed on Thursday with the rest of the free agents, most of whom reached contract agreements with Indianapolis just after the draft. Thomas agreed later in the week. Thomas, 6-1, 210, spent the last two seasons as a safety at Eastern Michigan after transferring from Louisville following the 2008 season. He missed a majority of 2010 with an injury, but last year had 79 tackles, 42 solo, one forced fumble and four passes defensed, earning third-team All-MAC honors.
One other player on the practice field was kicker Austin Anderson, whose father, Gary, played 23 seasons in a career spanning from 1982-2004. Anderson is a free agent tryout who was brought in after it was learned he was visiting acquaintances in the area. Anderson attended McGill University in Montreal. His father played with five teams (Pittsburgh, Minnesota, Philadelphia, Tennessee, San Francisco). He totaled 2,434 points (538-672 field goals; 820-827 PATs), second-most in NFL history.
Indianapolis announced one additional change in its personnel staff. The Colts promoted Jon Shaw to pro scout. Shaw spent his seven previous seasons with the club as a scouting assistant. He also assisted the coaching staff in 2011.