Just like during training camp, certain players stand out when they run around in shorts and helmets at OTAs. Sometimes, it's a sign that they could bring something special to the team, like when Jerrell Freeman was impressing coaches last year, or as Antoine Bethea did in 2006 as a fresh-faced, sixth round selected rookie.
Other times, they're just another Drew Haddad or Taj Smith.
This year, it seems the the star of OTAs is Colts free agent corner Greg Toler. Here's our buddy George Bremer, who was at OTAs this past Wednesday:
But the clear defensive MVP on Wednesday was cornerback Greg Toler. The fifth-year veteran, signed away from the Arizona Cardinals to replace Jerraud Powers, broke up passes intended for tight end Coby Fleener and wide receivers Darrius Heyward-Bey and T.Y. Hilton during red-zone drills.
He showed the athleticism and instincts that made him an offseason priority for general manager Ryan Grigson.
"We’re really happy with Greg," defensive secondary coach Mike Gillhamer said. "He’s coming here with a great attitude. He’s so powerful. He might be the big-game cat, like a cheetah or something. He’s just so powerful and can spring, and his attitude’s been awesome. He’s been everything that we hoped he’d be."
For me, Toler's early impact does not surprise. I do not think this guy is another "shorts and helmet" guy. He can play, and play well. I spent a lot of my free time in March watching tape of Toler, and I came away very impressed.
In fact, of the 13 free agents Ryan Grigson has signed since the new league year began, the Toler signing was one of his best in terms of talent-for-cost.
Fans in Indianapolis might not have any idea just how dominant the Arizona Cardinals defense was in 2012. If the Cardinals had anything remotely resembling a quarterback last year, they would have won the AFC West. Yes, over both the 49ers and the Seahawks. Their defense was better than both San Fran's and Seattle's, and Toler is an important part of that defense.
The big question mark with him is health. He missed four games for Arizona last season due to injury, and I'm hearing chatter that he's now walking around OTAs in a soft cast or walking boot. We'll keep you posted as best we can on his health.