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Colts' players 'embrace the grind' ahead of the start of training camp practices

DeForest Buckner, Zaire Franklin and more opened up on Tuesday about the importance of this year's training camp.

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WESTFIELD, Ind. – Across the NFL, several players reported for the start of training camp on Tuesday, which means that the 2023 season is on the horizon.

Colts' players were a part of that group, as they made their way to Grand Park Sports Campus to participate in the pivotal month of practices.

While the weeks of preparation may seem tedious, it also presents an opportunity to get back into playing shape, get a better grasp of the playbook and gain valuable reps as they prepare for the new season.

One of the players most excited to get out onto the field is eight-year veteran and All-Pro DeForest Buckner.

"This is my favorite time of the year," Buckner said. "Playing the games are obviously fun, but I love the grind. I like working toward the season and getting everything started. That's what I enjoy, putting all the work in, so I'm excited."

Joining Buckner in the excitement for the start of practices are several players, such as wide receiver Michael Pittman Jr.

Pittman Jr., another respected member of the team, missed much of this spring's OTAs after the birth of his second child and sustaining a hip injury.

Now healthy, Pittman Jr. said that he does not expect to miss any training camp practices.

"I started running a week after OTAs," Pittman Jr. said. "My hip is getting better, so I'm going to keep going and progress through camp. I will be out there on day one."

After winning four games last season, the team acknowledges that they will be viewed as an underdog, but has made it clear that they do not want a repeat of 2022's performance.

Linebacker Zaire Franklin acknowledged that having a good training camp will help them to ensure that's not the case. However, that can only happen if they don't allow outside noise to rattle them.

"The NFL is obviously full of narratives and narratives change every week," Franklin said. "I'd be sitting in the cafeteria and we would be ranked 32nd in the league by ESPN. Then, five weeks later we have the best team in the league, so it doesn't really matter."

While veterans like Buckner, Pittman Jr. and Franklin are ready to get out onto the field, their younger teammates are happy about their increased comfort with their environment.

Second-year wide receiver, Alec Pierce, admitted that it took some time to get used to training camp last summer, but this year, he is hoping to help his rookie teammates avoid those same hiccups.

"I try to tell them that this is a marathon, not a sprint," Pierce said. "It's a lot of long days here at camp and you might have a tough day, but you can't let those pile up. You have to try to make every day better than the next."

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