WESTFIELD, Ind. — The offseason workout program is terrific for skill players like quarterbacks, running backs, wide receivers and defensive backs, all of whom are able to show off their athleticism running around in shorts during spring practices.
But for the big fellas in the trenches, the offseason program — particularly the on-field work — doesn't have the same luster, if you will. Because contact is prohibited and teams cannot wear full pads, offensive and defensive linemen can essentially work on the fundamentals at their respective positions — and that's about it.
That's why training camp is oftentimes embraced by the linemen. And on Saturday, the Indianapolis Colts will throw on the pads for the first time, giving those along the line the chance to use what they learned technique-wise during the offseason and mix it in with their elite strength and quickness.
For those coming to check out the padded practices at Grand Park Sports Campus in Westfield, Ind., a major focus will undoubtedly be big No. 56: Quenton Nelson, the team's first-round (sixth-overall) pick out of Notre Dame.
Nelson's college film showed an absolute monster along the interior of the offensive line; someone who not only dominated the man (or men) across from him, but an elite athlete who can get out of his stance and lead block in the run game perhaps better than any prospect in recent memory.
But all rookies have an adjustment period upon entering the NFL, and that was no different for Nelson, who is ready to take the wealth of knowledge already gained in the spring and carry it over to camp.
"Yeah, I'm very excited for that," Nelson told Colts.com's Caroline Cann this week. "In OTAs it was a learning adjustment with the playbook, the scheme and everything, and now I feel like it's digested well over the break, and just ready to put on the pads and get to work with this team and prepare to win games."
If there was an aforementioned adjustment, by the way, Nelson didn't really show it. His veteran teammates have been impressed with what Nelson has brought to the table already as the Colts' starting left guard from Day 1.
"At guard, you want one of those people that if he's walking down the street and someone comes and runs at him full speed, that person is going to get knocked out even though he didn't know it was coming. He's got that ability that when people run into him, they move, and he doesn't," left tackle Anthony Castonzo said of Nelson. "He takes up space and it's really good to know that he's not going to be stepping on anyone's feet because when his feet are in the ground, he moves people, they don't move him.
"I think that's what impressed me the most. I had a coach one time who called it his ballast, the ability to have that coming back out rather than getting pushed back. He's definitely like a fridge."
To Nelson's credit, he's been sure to take in everything being thrown his way from the likes of Castonzo to his left and center Ryan Kelly to his right, both of whom are also former first-round picks.
"It's been great," Nelson said. "All the offensive linemen have been awesome to me — really helpful. And I'm so happy to be a part of this group. I really look forward to playing with all of them. And for someone like Anthony to say that, that means a lot, and I'm very fortunate to be playing next to him and Ryan Kelly."
And now Nelson and the rest of the offensive line will get their chance to really showcase their talents beginning Saturday with the first fully-padded practice of the year. It's just the next step in the talented rookie's quest of "getting better every day."
"That's what I want to accomplish, so I can go out on the field and play my best for the guys to the right and the left of me," Nelson said. "So that's what I look forward to the most of accomplishing, is just getting better and putting myself in the best position before the season."