Rookie minicamps took place this past weekend, and the Colts had 44 players take part in their camp. There's not much we can tell from an actual football standpoint because, well, the camp is mostly for learning and impressing coaches. There's no hitting until training camp (which the Colts report to on July 23, by the way) and really the most information we get comes from Colts head coach Chuck Pagano, who gave his impression on several of the rookie hopefuls. Firstly, however, let's look at what Pagano said the Colts do in rookie minicamp:
"Teaching them the process, how to be pros, how to go about their business, getting here early, taking care of their bodies, the treatment, nutrition, eating right, rest, everything other than the obvious things football-wise. You want to teach them A-to-Z how to take notes, how to handle themselves in meetings, how to handle a walkthrough. We had a pretty good pace this morning, but we've got to know how to handle each other, take care of each other in the walkthrough. Then this afternoon when we get the hats on, how to handle each other when we've just got helmets and no shoulder pads, no pads and pants, and things like that, how to practice, the tempo of practice. When they're not in, getting the mental reps on the side, and then you're trying to figure out, ‘OK, who can take from the classroom to the walkthrough to this afternoon's practice? Who can retain the information that we're giving them?' Again, we're not going to hold back just because it's a group of young guys, a group of rookies. We're going to throw a lot at them and see what they can retain."
Pagano also talked about how it happens every year that teams keep players after an impressive showing in rookie minicamp:
"Every year. Every year it happens. We met last night and we talked to them about, you know, we've got guys on our coaching staff that went undrafted. Our defensive coordinator, he went undrafted and that's when they had 12 rounds. We always kid him about it but he found a way to niche out a 12-year playing career. So there's somebody. We said, ‘Hey, it's up to you.' It's about sacrifice, commitment and putting the time in, so anything's possible."
In addition to the Colts five draft picks, the team had several undrafted free agent players that they had signed at camp as well as several other players on a tryout basis. What follows is a basic notebook on some of the players:
- Colts second round pick Jack Mewhort talked to the media and when the question came up about where he is going to play along the offensive line, he said that, "I'm here to play offensive line. I've played a lot of different positions through my years of football and that's what I intend to do here. I want to learn them all so that if there's ever a situation where they need me, I'll be ready for it." After a bit of prodding, however, Mewhort did admit that guard is the easiest position for him to play because he is in between two guys on the line. He did say, however, that if the Colts need him at tackle he can "eventually do it." Chuck Pagano also said that he doesn't want to move Mewhort around so much that he can't learn the positions or the scheme, so he said that starting out with Mewhort working on the interior of the line (guard and center) is likely what will happen to begin with. The Colts announced Mewhort, who played tackle for much of his time at Ohio State, as a guard when they drafted him and that is where it seems he will fit in best with the team's current linemen, though kicking him outside to right tackle when Gosder Cherilus' contract increases significantly is something that I'm sure is being considered down the line. For now, though, it'll be guard, it seems. And I think that's right where he should be to start out.
- Henoc Muamba, an inside linebacker who the Colts signed out of the Canadian Football League earlier this offseason, offered some insight as to how it came about that he signed with the Colts: "The Colts actually was the first call that I got after the season was over in the CFL. It was right after the Grey Cup in the CFL, so late November. I got a call from Mr. (Ryan) Grigson, and obviously I was overjoyed. I definitely had a bunch of other teams that were interested in me. So from then, I was actually in Dallas, Texas training, preparing for the workouts and went through a bunch of workouts actually before the decision was made. My heart was definitely in Indianapolis since the beginning since it was the first call and actually one of the things that I really liked about the first call that I got with the Colts was that it was the GM himself who called me and no other team did that. So it showed a lot about how he felt about me as a player and as a person as well."
- One of the most intriguing guys in Colts camp was Erik Swoope, who has never played organized football in his life but who played collegiate basketball at Miami. The Colts signed him and are working to develop him into a tight end. Chuck Pagano said that, "He looks natural. He can get in a stance, he looks natural running routes, he's obviously got great ball skills and hands, he doesn't drop many balls, he's bright as all get out. Every time I walk by the tight end meeting room, he's in there watching tape, he's with Alfredo Roberts studying and learning. The guy has exceeded our expectations for having not played the game." That was after the first day, and after the final day Pagano seemed just as pleased, saying, that Swoope "Exceeded our expectations way beyond anything that you'd ever imagine for a guy that never played... If he continues to work, he's a bright guy, he's smart, he picks things up, he looks like he's got great passion for this. Who knows?"
- Pagano was asked on the first day of camp about Zach Kerr, so he answered: "Big, fast, smart, got great feet, got great quickness. Again, you can see the energy and passion that he has for football and he knows the game inside and out. So yeah, we're excited to have Zach here."
- Two of the guys that I'm really keeping my eye on are two Florida undrafted players who the Colts brought in, center Jonotthan Harrison and corner Loucheiz Purifoy. Pagano was asked what he likes about them, and he said: "Hard work. It was a shame that Purifoy got the ankle and missed a little bit of time here at the end. The center's a really smart guy, tough. From a technical standpoint, it looks like he's been well-coached. Bright guy, like I said. Really pleasant surprise, really pleasant surprise. Got a long way to go as we know, but both those guys have talent."
- The best option at safety that the Colts had in over the weekend was Dewey McDonald, and he also is definitely a guy to keep an eye on. Pagano described him as a "Big, athletic-type safety. Got good range, got good ball skills. Did some good things."
- Asked about the corner position and who stood out the most, Pagano said that Marcus Burley did, but he said that Burley has been there already so it makes sense that he would be ahead. Pagano said that, "I thought they all did a good job."
- The one consistent theme from Pagano about a lot of the guys he was asked about (especially about the guys the Colts actually drafted) was that he saw what they saw on tape. Most of the things he said about those players were that they saw on the field this weekend the same things they saw on tape when scouting them.
For a bit more information on rookie minicamp, here are a few tweets from George Bremer and Tom James, both of whom are friends and do a great job covering the Colts, who were at the camp:
@Coltsfanwilson Probably Qua Cox, just because he made the play of the day with a nifty pick 6.— George Bremer (@gmbremer) May 17, 2014
Both of the placekickers at the Colts rookie mini-Camp -- Cody Parkey and Andy Wilder -- have pretty strong legs. Parkey was booming kicks.— Tom James (@TribStarTJames) May 16, 2014
I'm no scout. But UNLV QB Caleb Herring had good zip on his passes today. Northern Colorado's Seth Lobato made some good throws, too. #Colts— George Bremer (@gmbremer) May 16, 2014
Play of the day came from Jonathan Newsome, who blocked a pass and nearly intercepted it. #Colts— George Bremer (@gmbremer) May 17, 2014
Tryout TE Joseph Duncan made a couple of nice catches today as well. Relatively quiet practice overall. #Colts— George Bremer (@gmbremer) May 17, 2014
Chuck Pagano said after minicamp ended that he felt really good about where the team stood and about how the camp went:
"We felt like as a staff and an organization that we got five really good days in, found out what we needed to find out about not only our draft picks but our college free agents and tryout guys. Guys did a great job. I think our staff did a phenomenal job. I talked about Ryan (Grigson) and his staff bringing in guys. Great looking group of guys. Again, they put the time in. We found out what we needed to find out about them, put them through a lot of stuff and they handled it really well. Really proud of the players who came in here and worked and proud of our coaches for putting together great plans. We had five great days, so heading in the right direction with the young guys."
As you can see, there's not a whole lot to glean from rookie minicamp, but there is some and it's at least the closest we're getting to football at the moment. There are some intriguing prospects, and I can't wait to see some of them on the field in July.