INDIANAPOLIS — The first official workout for Indianapolis Colts head coach Jim Caldwell went off without a hitch on Friday.
Caldwell, who succeeded Tony Dungy in January, put the team’s seven draft picks, 13 undrafted free agents, two former arenafootball 2 players and an assortment of first-year veterans through a full day of work at the team’s Indiana Farm Bureau office complex.
In all, approximately 30 to 32 players took part in the first day of a scheduled three-day session that was designed to help the team’s new players better acclimate themselves to how things are done in the National Football League. Classroom work, coupled with time spent on the practice fields, was the order of the day and will be until the sessions wrap up on Sunday.
“We certainly got off to a good start, we think. We had an opportunity to take the young guys through their paces. It’s a very important time for us primarily because it’s the teaching and information that we try and dispense at this time. It’s important for them to be able to grasp and at some point in time regurgitate,” Caldwell said Friday afternoon.
“Over the years, since I’ve been here, over the last seven years, individuals that we’ve had that have taken part in this particular rookie camp, there’s been on average about 12 of them per year that have actually played some type of role for us during the course of the year. Last year was a little different because we 18 guys that participated and played for us. So this is a very important time.”
The Colts coaching staff will talk to each group, by position and then as an offensive and defensive unit, before setting foot on the field. Game and practice video will be shown, with players urged to ask questions about what they’ve seen.
“One of the things that we try to do in our teaching is to make certain that they get an opportunity to hear our system, at least the great majority of it, being taught four times. This is the first time that they’ll hear it. They’ll hear it one other time just prior as we start our [off-season training activity sessions] May 19. They’ll hear it again, just before training camp we bring them [the rookies] in a couple of days early. And then, obviously, during the training camp itself. So they have an opportunity to hear it four times, to get it taught, get a good feel for it and put it to action.”
n Full list of undrafted free agents released — The official list of Colts undrafted free agents include: defensive backs Brandon Anderson (Akron), Brandon Harrison (Michigan) and Jacob Lacey (Oklahoma State); offensive guards Tom Pestock (Northwest Missouri State) and Cornelius Lewis (Tennessee State); linebackers Tyrell Sales (Penn State) and Ramon Humber (North Dakota State); defensive tackle Adrian Grady (Louisville); tight end Colin Cloherty (Brown); defensive tackle Pat Kuntz (Notre Dame); punter/kicker Tom Masthay (Kentucky); along with wide receivers John Matthews (San Diego) and Brett McDermott (Holy Cross).
Kuntz is an Indianapolis native and attended Roncalli High School. Lewis, at 6-foot-4 and 332 pounds, is the biggest of the team’s undrafted free agents. He initially attended Florida State, where he started three games as a freshman. The Jacksonville, Fla., native was rated as one of the top undrafted players available to NFL teams.
Grady, meanwhile, has been called a “diamond in the rough” by NFL scouts after posting good numbers for the Cardinals (41 tackles, nine tackles for loss, two sacks) as a senior last fall. Matthews hauled in 102 passes for 1,478 yards, 21 touchdowns and averaged 134.36 yards per game receiving for the Toreros in 2008. He earned first-team All-American honors and was a finalist for the Walter Payton Award, which goes to the best player in the Football Championship Subdivision (FCS).
Sales comes to the Colts after starting 11 games for the Nittany Lions in 2008. While ranking third on the team in tackles with 68, he was arrested three times during his collegiate career (fighting in 2007, disorderly conduct in 2008 and, in the most recent episode, driving under the influence on March 30). Charges were dropped after his first two arrests. Sales was placed in a first-time offenders program in connection to the DUI charge.
“He had some unfortunate incidents that occurred [at Penn State]. But one of the things that happened as a result of it is that he took responsibility for his actions and has certainly began to try to rectify those things in his life,” Caldwell said.
“So that’s one of the most important things, that [players] do indeed show some accountability and then obviously make a move towards improving those aspects of their lives where they have had a little bit of difficulty. And [Sales] has shown that he’s willing to do that and we fully anticipate that he will.”
Indianapolis took a chance on another former Penn State player two years ago, adding undrafted defensive tackle Ed Johnson despite a history of off-field incidents. Johnson had a strong rookie year but was released early last season after he was arrested for speeding and for possession of marijuana.
That situation, though, did not deter the Colts from bringing in Sales. Caldwell stressed that each case is different and he was willing to give players an opportunity where warranted.
“After research and taking a real good look at the individuals, you have to take a good look at each case individually. You just can’t kind of throw out a blanket statement about a situation and hold to it. There has to be some research and some thought put into it as well,” he said.
n Colts add two from Arena League — Indianapolis has also added a pair of arenafootball2 veterans in offensive linemen Brandon Barnes (Green Bay Blizzard) and Kyle DeVan (Boise Burn). Barnes played at Grand Valley State and signed as a free agent with the Baltimore Ravens in 2008. He did not make the Ravens regular-season roster. DeVan played at Oregon State and spent a portion of the 2008 season on the New York Jets practice squad.
n Colts waive Summrall — Indianapolis waived cornerback Brandon Summrall earlier this week. Summrall was on the team’s practice squad last season and was re-signed to the offseason roster in January.
The former Southern Mississippi defensive back was quickly claimed by the New York Giants, but was waived after he failed his physical. Summrall had been sidelined by a foot injury that he suffered in practice last fall.
n Other Indiana, MVFC college free agents get looks by NFL teams — A pair of former Ball State players, tight end Darius Hill and punter Chris Miller, will be working out for NFL teams this weekend. Hill will participate in the Giants’ rookie camp while Miller has a tryout with the Chicago Bears.
Purdue offensive tackle Sean Sester, Indiana defensive tackle Greg Brown and Southern Illinois offensive guard Aaron Lockwood all have tryouts with the Bears.
INDIANAPOLIS — The first official workout for Indianapolis Colts head coach Jim Caldwell went off without a hitch on Friday.
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