WELCOME TO THE NFL

The Colts' eight draftees and 13 collegiate free agents are among the 30-to-32 players participating in a three-day rookie mini-camp at the Indiana Farm Bureau Football Center. For some players, a glimpse at the Colts' playbook was the first realization they were really in the NFL.

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Colts Rookies Adjust to Professional Football at Three-Day Minicamp

INDIANAPOLIS – Curtis Painter didn't need to wait until Friday.

Painter, a quarterback from Purdue University and a sixth-round selection by the Colts in the 2009 NFL Draft, said he knew quickly the NFL had gone from dream to reality. And he said the moment had nothing to do with meeting Colts quarterback Peyton Manning.

It wasn't about putting on the blue-and-white helmet.

And he said driving to the Colts' West 56th Street facility didn't overwhelm him, either.

Painter's moment of realization came not on Friday, the first day of the Colts' three-day rookie minicamp, but a bit earlier. It was when the Colts gave him a playbook.

Then, he knew.

"That kind of ended the first day when they threw me the playbook and I saw how big it was," Painter (6-feet-4, 230 pounds) said Friday, the first day of the three-day mincamp that will conclude at the Indiana Farm Bureau Football Center Sunday.

"I stopped thinking about that stuff and kind of got my nose in it."

Such was the story for most players around the Colts' mini-camp this week.

For Painter, seven other draftees and 13 collegiate free agents, they were less than a week removed from the draft, or from deciding with which NFL team to sign. College was suddenly very much over.

Their NFL careers had begun, and for first-round selection Donald Brown – a running back from the University of Connecticut – the reaction to the Colts' playbook was much the same as it was for Painter.

"It's big," Brown said. "I'm taking it one day at a time. Rome wasn't built in a day. There are some classes that are just as tough as this playbook. You can't get frustrated. It's a new system that you're just learning. Just take it in stride.

"It's like the coaches said, 'This is a learning process, a learning weekend. You're going to make mistakes. You've got to make sure you're giving all your effort and you'll be alright."

Brown said he realized he was in the NFL "once I got the helmet on."

"I was going around with the other guys and that's when I realized, 'I'm in the NFL now,'" he said. "It was good. It was good to get out there. It's not going to be easy, especially trying to grasp a new system.

"Obviously, I made some mistakes, but as long as I give 110 percent, that's all I can ask for."

Fili Moala, a second-round selection, played defensive tackle for the University of Southern California. His moment of realization came not with the playbook, but in one of his first NFL meetings.

"When I was sitting in the meetings with (Defensive Line) Coach (John) Teerlinck," Moala said. "It's just crazy. He was giving us all the little (schemes) in the defensive line room, very similar to USC, but it's totally different here.

"It was great being a Trojan, but it's even better being a Colt."

For others, such as Michigan defensive tackle Terrance Taylor, there was no moment of clarification when they realized their professional careers had begun. Not yet, anyway.

"It really hasn't set in yet, but I'm pretty sure when we get to practice at camp and Peyton Manning's back there making his signals and stuff like that, it will probably set in," Taylor said. "Right now, I'm just focused on my technique and learning the defense and really paying attention . . . because right now, what mini-camp is for is hands-on, one-on-one attention from the coaches.

"So I've been trying to take that in and take as much information back home so when I come back I'll be a little brighter."

Said third-round selection Jerraud Powers, a cornerback from Auburn University, "It's all business. This is a job now. They're paying you to play this game. You have to take it from a business standpoint, and take it as work. That's the way they (coaches) expect us to take it."

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