INDIANAPOLIS – They say rookie seasons in the NFL can be a learning experience.
Ask T.J. Green if that accurately describes his debut year in the NFL and the safety's hand is likely to be raised in the air.
"I felt like that first year really helped me judge how much I really knew about the game of football, at the professional level," Green says. "It really helped me realize the areas I need to grow in mentally and the things that I need to understand more about the game of football.
When Green was drafted last year, the Colts knew the pick was more along the lines of a longer-term outlook (compared to a Ryan Kelly, for example).
Green was recruited to Clemson as a wide receiver. He played just two years at safety, starting for one.
"Not playing safety that long, when you get to this level, a lot more things that go into it, like formations and terminology that you really have to understand," Green says.
"The first year helped me grow as a player and helped me understand the game of football better."
You could make the argument there's not a player inside the Colts locker room that is more appreciative of this time of year than Green.
A rookie does not receive this much classroom time in their first season.
Green is trying to take advantage of it now.
"It's helping me a lot," Green says of his first offseason program. "I feel like I have this time to really just dive into the game of football, dive into the mental aspect of it, the mental parts, the terminology to get onto the same page with the coaches and what they are saying, have the terms they use click in my head. As soon as they say it, I don't have to think about it too much."
What the Colts want out of Green is to remove as much mental strain as they can.
It's something Chuck Pagano thinks held Green back from truly showcasing the freakish-athletic ability that had the head coach wanting the Clemson safety during last year's second round.
With the drafting of Malik Hooker, and the Colts having Clayton Geathers heading into his third year, plus Darius Butler now at safety in 2017, Green could still have a large role in the often-used sub packages.
Comparing the mental taxing from 2016 to 2017 is like night and day for Green.
"We go back over the plays and I know that, but I still write it down like I'm just learning it again," Green says of his classroom work right now.
"It's clicking faster and I understand it faster."
On the field, 'fast' is exactly how Green is described. And the Colts desperately want to use that speed very soon.
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