INDIANAPOLIS — Indianapolis Colts coach Chuck Pagano is amazed when he looks at the roster of players available during the team’s organized team activity workouts.
Since the end of the 2012 season, the changes in personnel have been interesting. Gone are players like outside linebacker Dwight Freeney, outside linebacker Jerry Hughes, wide receiver Donnie Avery, cornerback Jerraud Powers, safety Tom Zbikowski, and nose tackle Antonio Johnson.
Veteran free agent additions include safety LaRon Landry, offensive tackle Gosder Cherilus, outside linebacker Erik Walden, defensive tackle Ricky Jean Francois, nose tackle Aubrayo Franklin, cornerback Greg Toler, offensive guard Donald Thomas, quarterback Matt Hasselbeck, wide receiver Darrius Heyward-Bey and outside linebacker Lawrence Sidbury.
And then there’s the team’s recent draft picks, headlined by outside linebacker Bjoern Werner, center-offensive guard Khaled Holmes, and offensive guard Hugh Thornton.
Overall, there are 35 new players on the Colts roster during OTAs that weren’t on the squad when last season concluded.
“Participation has been outstanding. We’re making progress,” Pagano said Wednesday after the team’s fifth OTA workout of the spring.
“Our goal is to come out here with the intention of getting better at something every day individually, as position groups, offense, defense, special teams. And as a team. We feel like we’re headed in the right direction.”
Some minor injuries have held a few players out of the workouts, including Heyward-Bey and Toler.
“[Darrius] tweaked a hammy [Tuesday]. Nothing serious. But at this time of the year, we’re obviously going to err on the side of caution. It was our decision to hold him out [of Wednesday’s workout]. He probably could have went. But we said wait and let’s see how you feel [Thursdsay],” the Colts coach explained.
“[Toler] was the same thing. He’s got a sore foot. He went [in Tuesday’s practice], went full practice. But it’s the same type thing as DHB. We’re going to err on the side of caution. Especially at this time of the year and not push it. At this time of the year, they really want to [practice]. We’ve got to protect those guys from themselves because they want to be a part of everything. To put them out there and force the issue with them and then have something serious happen this time of year wouldn’t be very smart on my part.”