We have officially reached the one true dead period of the NFL calendar year.
The free agency rush is over, as is the draft. The offseason program has come and gone, as has mandatory mini-camp. While some teams are holding their mini-camps this week, the Colts are totally done until they report to training camp in late July.
There are still several weeks until camp begins during which there aren’t any team activities, but that doesn't mean the work ends for the Colts players. Their job is to stay in shape and be ready to hit the ground running when they get to Anderson University.
“This doesn’t stop,” head coach Chuck Pagano said last week. “The eight weeks that they’ve got in now just continues. They’ve got to stay with the strength and conditioning part of it, they’ve got to stay with the mental part of it. They all get to take their iPads home. It’s loaded up with tons of video from the offseason program. They’ve got a strength and conditioning book that we can give them that is mapped out by day until July 26th. So there is a ton of stuff that they need to do. You can’t just shut it down. You have to make great choices, you have to be disciplined, you have to make sacrifices. It’s time to be with family, enjoy loved ones, recharge and hit the reset button but you can’t get away from the physical side, the mental side, working on your craft. To do that would be just not being a good pro and not being a good teammate.”
As Pagano said, these next few weeks are a time for players to hang out with their families before the craze of training camp and the season starts, but they can’t ignore the conditioning part of staying in shape. Their job during the next several weeks is to get as ready as possible for the season. Again, the work doesn't stop.
“No, absolutely not,” quarterback Andrew Luck agreed. “We talk to the young guys all the time, one of the big differences between college and the pros is you don’t have a coach holding your hand through the summer and you have to be a professional. You have to take it upon yourself to get better. We motivate each other. Guys will get together. We’ll do our certain things but you have to come to camp, and I’ve learned this before, you have to come to camp better than when you left minicamp. That’s your obligation as a professional. It is a fun time. Obviously it’s the summer and there’s a chance to be with your family and to sort of regenerate. But training, working out and doing all of that is vitally important if you want to be a successful football team.”
I like how Luck said that: the job for each player is to be better when they arrive to training camp than they were leaving mini-camp. That’s what they will be working on over the next several weeks, as even though they don’t have organized team activities they have workouts to continue to do. Some players, like Andrew Luck and Ryan Kelly, will work out together, while others will work out individually. The bottom line is that players will be building upon the progress made during the offseason program in the dead period of the year in an effort to be improved when they get to training camp.