Colts Coach Jim Caldwell Addresses the End of Three-Day Mini-Camp
INDIANAPOLIS – The Colts' off-season isn't over yet.
But with a week remaining, and with the 2010 mandatory mini-camp now complete, Colts Head Coach Jim Caldwell said he very much likes what he has seen from the first three weeks of extensive team-oriented off-season work.
If the rookies aren't completely acclimated, they're progressing.
The veterans are, too.
That has been true of the first three weeks of organized team activities and Caldwell said it was true this past weekend.
"Overall, we had three very good practices," Caldwell said Sunday, the final day of the Colts' three-day mandatory 2010 mini-camp at the Indiana Farm Bureau Football Center.
"I think we saw improvement every day. We saw the older guys executing every day, and younger guys were certainly catching on to their assignments and improving on their execution in all phases, so we were certainly pleased with the effort."
Running back Joseph Addai, entering his fifth NFL season and fourth as a starter, said while mini-camp and organized team activities are part of essentially the same process, it's a process that is imant – and that has been productive this off-season.
"Mini-camp and OTAs, I think they kind of go together," Addai said. "It's an introduction to what we're trying to do for the season. It's a starting point. It's getting familiar with everybody. It's working out the small things – not trying to kill yourself, but working out the small things.
"I'd say it's getting an understanding of things. I think it's always been that way, but the older you get, you notice it more."
The Colts, the defending AFC and AFC South Champions, began their voluntary off-season conditioning program in mid-April, holding a three-day rookie mini-camp in early May, a week after the 2010 NFL Draft. Rookies returned to Indianapolis in mid-May for the beginning of organized team activities.
The Colts have held three weeks of OTAs, and have three practices remaining this week.
OTAs are scheduled to end Friday.
"Obviously, we're looking forward to the next three days," Caldwell said.
Much of the past several weeks has been dedicated to helping rookies adapt to the NFL and to preparing them for training camp. While some rookies spoke early in the process of needing to learn and adapt quickly, Caldwell said that process is in a very real sense ongoing.
"I'm not certain as of yet," Caldwell said when asked if things had slowed for the rookies. "Probably in some respect, they probably know what to expect now. They've been through the practice routine a few times, and they see things coming at them at a little faster clip than normal.
"I think they're still kind of feeling their way."
Caldwell on Sunday also addressed:
• The potential of rookie tight end Brody Eldridge: "He's a good athlete, first of all. That's the first thing, obviously, that jumps out at you. He has athleticism, balance and he has good hands. You couple that with the fact that he's a guy who certainly understands his way around in-line blocking and things of that nature. He's a good, solid guy at the line of scrimmage. He blends talent, athleticism, toughness and being able to catch the ball all in one. He's coming along well."
• Rookie defensive end Jerry Hughes: "Jerry will find his niche and I think you'll see that as the year goes on." Caldwell said there is a possibility of using Hughes and Pro Bowl defensive ends Robert Mathis and Dwight Freeney at the same time. "It certainly gives us an opportunity if something would happen to either one of them (Freeney or Mathis) because of injury that we have two who can rush the passer and put some pressure on the quarterback," Caldwell said. "It gives us a bit of a luxury. We've had two great ones and we've had some guys who have been pretty good. Hopefully, Jerry will give us three fastballs."
• The difficulty of short-yardage offense: "When I first came into the league – I'd been coaching college 20-some-odd years – we were having a discussion about short-yardage. One of the guys said, 'You know it's very tough to get a half a yard in this league, particularly in those situations.' You don't have a real good sense of that until you actually are involved in it. People are so big and strong on both sides of the ball that often you end up getting stalemates when you'd like to get some movement. You have to be able to find a crack. Defensively, we've been a real hard-nosed team when it comes to short-yardage situations where guys have come up with some big stops – not only third-down stops but fourth-down stops that have been key. Like anything else, we have to improve in that area on both sides of the ball – offensively, getting that half a yard that we need and defensively, getting that stopped."
• Whether quarterback Peyton Manning can still improve entering his 13th season: "There's no question about it. He has been fantastic, but every year he has improved and I don't think this year's going to be any different."
• On third-year veteran guard Mike Pollak: "He has done well. He has battled through some adversity. I think he will benefit from that in terms of his determination and dedication. He's a guy who has physical tools. He has strength and size. He's very bright. I think you'll start to see him really come along. . . We need him to come along and right now he's doing very well."