INDIANAPOLIS – Drew Stanton arrived in the NFL as a second-round choice of Detroit in 2007 after a collegiate career at Michigan State.
Stanton was the 43rd overall choice after his Spartans career, but his opportunity with the Lions did not play out as he had wished.
Stanton started four of 13 games with Detroit after missing his rookie season with an injury. He did not participate in any games in 2011. He was deactivated for 16 weeks in favor of Matthew Stafford and Shaun Hill.
His career with Detroit was altered when Stafford arrived as the first pick in the draft in 2009.
Stanton spent a brief time with the New York Jets prior to moving to Indianapolis last month. The arrival of Tim Tebow from Denver precipitated the move to Indianapolis, and now the Colts have announced the intention to select Andrew Luck with the first overall pick in the draft which starts Thursday.
Stanton has been working with his teammates on a new offense in a fresh venue. In a short time he has learned lessons in the NFL, and one of the best things to do is to gird himself for if opportunity knocks.
"You're one step away as a back-up in this league, especially being entrenched in a new offense and trying to absorb as much of it as you can as long as you," said Stanton. "Everything is new to me. I am constantly trying to learn and understand what I need to do. All the good teams in this league, leadership needs to come from this position. It doesn't matter who it is, or who is out there, when they're out there, what they're doing. When we're on the field, it's a matter of earning their (teammates) respect. That comes through my preparation and them seeing me work hard and get prepared to go out there every practice."
Stanton is toiling with newcomers and veterans alike as Indianapolis has moved to a new era. Under Head Coach Chuck Pagano and an offensive staff that features virtually all new faces, players are getting a spring crash-course in a new attack. Players have been working for three weeks and hit the field for the first time Tuesday. Stanton is starting to see the fruits of having his nose in the playbook.
"I think the light bulb is starting to go (on) a little bit. Some of the stuff starts to repeat itself, shifts, motions and things like that are starting to make sense," said Stanton. "It's not so foreign like it once was. That comes from through repetition, getting in your book and studying and doing it with a valuable amount of time, not just studying for the sake of studying, but getting something out of it. There are things you learn in the league after a period of time of how you can pick up a playbook and understand the Greek language just from getting out there and doing it.
"We know we're going to make mistakes, but it's correcting those mistakes and the coaching that's going on. The coaching staff has a good feel for that. I'm excited to work with them. As an offense, you work on the timing. Some of it might be different than what you're used to but if we all work together, communicating and working through it, you're going to start to see things turn around quickly."
Things should turn quickly in the very near future with the expected addition of Luck. Stanton has seen this before, but is taking a veteran approach to a matter out of his control.
"From my understanding of the type of guy he (Luck) is, he's going to take full advantage of (the opportunity)," said Stanton. "(I'm going) to let him know I am going to be every bit of a resource as I can for him. He has a good opportunity, and we all do, starting over with a new GM and head coach. I think the transition period is going to be fun. We're all going to be working on it together, probably a lot of late nights trying to figure stuff out. Getting a jumpstart on it, maybe I'll break some stuff down for him on what I'm seeing out there that can speed along his process."
Stanton was aware of the draft day dynamic when he signed, still he found Indianapolis an appealing place with a hopeful chance to contribute.
"There are a lot of reasons," said Stanton of why he likes Indianapolis. "There is a lot of talent here, the tradition around here and the support. There were many things that were intriguing about this situation. Just the opportunity that presents itself for me to get a chance to entrench myself as a back-up in this league and get a chance to play.
"You never know what's going to happen. You have to prepare that way. I've done that my entire career now. I'm hoping if called upon, I can go out there and answer the bell. I realize they're drafting Andrew (Luck) for a reason, they want him to be the starter. I'm going to try to make it a difficult decision for them and do everything I can within my power. … I need to be a good teammate. I'm going to try to speed up that process for him so he can go out there and have success on Sundays."
Wednesday was the second day of the voluntary mini-camp. Teams with a new coaching staff are allotted one extra session. A caveat was this first camp had to be held before the draft.
"It has been a little bit tough. With the rules, having the voluntary mini-camp that they give you (for) being a new staff, it is a bonus," said Pagano. "Unfortunately, the rules said it has got to be before the draft, and we didn't want to have it early enough to where we didn't have enough classroom time and where we came out here and (didn't) have any idea what we're doing out here. So we look like we had a decent practice."
The term "voluntary" is attached to this three-day, five-practice session that ends Thursday. Pagano says the term means what it states.
"We can't make them be here. That's how voluntary they are," said Pagano. "If you've got the right guys, which we have in the building and the locker room, they want to get better at their craft. This is how you make your money as a football player. You are here and you are working. Obviously, with a new staff and new schemes offensively, defensively and on special teams, it would almost be like a lockout year again if they weren't here. So we certainly can't make them be here, it is voluntary. So again, we've got great character and great guys in that locker room. You can tell just by their participation what type of people we have here."
Pagano said offensive linemen Anthony Castonzo and Ben Ijalana, the club's two top picks in the 2011, are still in rehabilitation and are not participating in the on-field work.