INDIANAPOLIS — Hey rookies, welcome to the NFL.
Seventy-three players realized their National Football League dreams on Friday, when they had their first-ever opportunity to put on an NFL team's helmet and practice jersey and take part in the Indianapolis Colts' 2017 rookie minicamp at the Indiana Farm Bureau Football Center.
For some of the players in attendance, Friday's experience was just the first of many wearing the Horseshoe, as they will almost assuredly spend the next few weeks and months trying to earn their way into a role as draft picks or select undrafted free agents.
But for most of those taking part, this weekend's action in Indy could be one of their last prime opportunities to show that they do, indeed, have a future as a player in the NFL. A select few might impress the Colts' brass enough to earn a spot on the team's offseason roster — which likely means they would take the spot of other veterans already on the team — while most others will head home wondering if they'll ever get another call.
The rookie minicamp also gave the players a chance to face the media and answer a variety of questions about what they bring to the table, among many other topics. So let's check out the Top 10 quotes from the first day of the Colts' 2017 rookie minicamp from those players, as well as head coach Chuck Pagano:
• "The three days go fast but we can get a lot done. There were some good things that happened out there. Obviously there's a lot of energy and enthusiasm – first day and all that stuff. Guys are thinking a little bit, but it's a good group. We saw a lot of good things and obviously a lot of things to clean up now." — Colts head coach Chuck Pagano, giving his opening statement after the first day of rookie minicamp practice.
• "We worked out at the same facility. He went to Fresno State, so he's a Cali kid. He just told me to enjoy it because there are a lot of good people out here, and he was right. Everybody seems nice. Like I said, the family atmosphere out here is incredible. I'm just really happy to be here in Indy. It was good to work out with him." — Tackle Zach Banner, on workout out with Indiana Pacers' star Paul George and what he told him about Indianapolis.
• "Have fun. Everything else will get taken care of. You'll have mistakes, but as far as you capitalize on them. Do what you have to do. Get in there and study. Everything else will get taken care of." — Wide receiver Trey Griffey, on advice his father — Hall of Fame baseball player Ken Griffey Jr. — gave him heading into rookie minicamp.
• "It's definitely pretty surreal coming into an NFL locker room for the first time and walking around and seeing Andrew Luck and Frank Gore who I've watched growing up. I mean, I just saw Adam Vinatieri in the hallway. He's been playing football longer than I've been alive, so it's really cool. I'm just taking it all in and just trying to go to work and learn." — Long snapper Thomas Hennessy, on his first impression of being in an NFL locker room.
• "They really haven't – they just want me to go out there and be me. They didn't put too much pressure on me to go out there and do anything spectacular. Just get in the playbook and be yourself because that's why they drafted me." — Safety Malik Hooker, on any expectations he's heard from Pagano about being the team's top draft pick this year.
• "Yeah, I definitely am very confident in myself. I know what I can do. I'm just focused on coming in and learning the playbook and asking a lot of questions. I feel good in my ability to learn and do what it takes to be able to play." — Cornerback Quincy Wilson, on having no qualms about coming in as a rookie and potentially having a starting role.
• "We are a long, long ways away, but we're talking big picture. We're talking building this thing and building something special. We're trying to build something special on that side of the ball. We all know it, they all know it – we have a huge challenge on our hands on that side of the football (and) we have to be better. And that falls on me, I have to be better." — Pagano, on the opportunity in front of the team with all the youth and fresh blood on the defense.
• "Personally, to get to know the coaches and to get to know the players, especially the rookie class that's camping with me. And then after that on Monday, we'll get back to it. Just building relationships and learning a lot." — Banner, on what he hopes to accomplish over the three-day rookie minicamp.
• "I was blessed as far as with them calling me. When you think about the Colts, you think about all the championships. You think about the way that they carry themselves on and off the field. You think about every great thing about them. So, I mean, love it." — Griffey, on if he was surprised when the Colts came calling to sign as a college free agent.
• "It's definitely special for me. Just to get out here and finally live a dream that I had since I was eight years old and experience it personally. It's a great thing for me and my family right now." — Hooker, on what this NFL opportunity means for those close to him.
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