ANDERSON – So far the Colts have been parallel parking with cones to maneuver around at the 2014 training camp.
Getting the fundamentals and muscle memory down has been ingrained into players' minds ever since the team's offseason program began back in April.
Now, the driving instructor, riding shotgun with the break at his foot, is nowhere to be found.
The pads are being put on and that means things will ramp up to a whole new level in terms of intensity at Colts training camp.
"The biggest thing is when they get the pads on can they finish?" Colts offensive line coach Joe Gilbert says.
"With no pads, the guys kind of work on their footwork, their technique, as far as placement. Now, they get a chance to go out and do it at a higher tempo and actually finish. That's the part where a lot of guys will separate themselves."
Another nice cool afternoon practice!
One player who will undoubtedly be closely monitored during the padded practices of camp is Khaled Holmes.
Communication is such a vital factor for any center and now Holmes will get a chance to showcase that with live bullets flying at him.
"Continue to build on what he did but also from a strength standpoint, will he be able to hold up against a big nose guard?" Gilbert said of what he's looking for out of Holmes. "Sustain, finish, and that's where the part of pads add a different dimension then just going in shorts."
Rookie Jack Mewhort sat out Friday's practice for precautionary reasons.
Making the jump into the NFL trenches is ratcheted up a notch when the pads are put on.
Mewhort has been taking some first team reps at left guard and knows that his major test will come during these next few practices.
"We've been going through OTAs and minicamp and that's close to the speed…I've heard that's close to the speed but it's not anything like putting pads on and really banging," Mewhort says. "I think that's where I can really show how physical I am and my toughness.
"There's a little bit of anxiety knowing that the competition and everything starts clicking a little faster but that's also what I'm excited about—to step my game up to the next level, compete and try to establish myself on this team."
Of course the pads don't apply just to the Colts offensive line.
The Colts defense has added some new faces up front in an effort to beef up a rush defense that did not live up to expectations last season.
In his little more than a season in Indy, Erik Walden has been praised for the ferocity he plays with, a key part to setting the edge from his outside linebacker position.
Practices like Saturday are why Walden loves the game.
"It feels good to get back out here but like I always say, 'A man is defined when he's got pads on,' Walden says.
"We are all looking forward to it."