By Tom James
TERRE HAUTE — First-round draft pick Donald Brown signed his contract Sunday and got right to work in Monday’s morning practice.
“One of the things you can’t discount is getting your team all together at the start. Bill Polian, [vice president of football operations] Chris [Polian] and [director of player personnel] Tom Telesco do a great job of not just selecting talent but getting them signed and getting them here so we can work with them,” coach Jim Caldwell said after Monday’s morning practice.
“To be able to start out first day without any distractions in that regard, without any holdouts, is a testament to what they do and how they do their job. Donald Brown is a guy we anticipate will move quickly, in terms of his knowledge of the game and how he performs out on the field, so it will be exciting to see him in pads and see what he can do.”
Brown, a speedy multi-purpose running back who played collegiately at Connecticut, took Monday’s practices in stride.
“It went well. I made a couple of mistakes but as long as I don’t make the same mistake twice, I’ll be all right and take it one practice at a time,” he said.
• Injury report — Running back Mike Hart (knee) did not practice Monday morning but did take part in the afternoon workout. Rookie defensive tackle Fili Moala is recovering from a cold but saw limited practice time in the morning session. Defensive end Raheem Brock also did not take part in Monday’s first practice.
Hart, Moala and Brock all practiced in the afternoon. A handful of players — offensive guard Ryan Lilja, running back Joseph Addai, defensive end Dwight Freeney, middle linebacker Gary Brackett, cornerback T.J. Rushing and offensive guard Mike Pollak — did not take part in the afternoon workout. They are slated to be on one-practice-a-day regimens for the short term.
Those players on the physically unable to perform list include wide receiver Sam Giguere (broken fibula), placekicker Adam Vinatieri (hip/knee), safety Bob Sanders (knee), cornerback Marlin Jackson (knee), offensive guard/tackle Charlie Johnson (shoulder), and defensive tackle Antonio Johnson (knee).
“Mike Hart is [day-to-day]. The doctors kind of take a look. Fili was doing some work out there for us but he’s getting over a little bit of a cold. Raheem is also just kind of not rushing it,” Caldwell said. “There are a few guys we’re jostling back and forth pending on how they are coming along, but some cases we’re not going to force it. You saw a majority of the guys were out there working.
“I’m not certain [when Sanders will begin to practice]. The doctors will certainly make that declaration. I can tell you he’s moving along, he’s making good progress, and I know he’s eager to get out there. So hopefully in some point in time we’ll have him.”
• Not hot enough — While temperatures were in the mid-60s when practice started Monday morning, the mercury only got as high as 74 degrees by the time the workout was over. Caldwell is hoping for a heat wave at some point during training camp.
“We could turn it up about 10 or 15 degrees and turn the humidity up a bit. We have a couple of games that are going to test us in terms of the heat, so it’d be nice to work in a lot of heat, but we’ll take whatever the Lord gives us,” he said.
It did get a little warmer in the afternoon, with the thermometer reaching 82 degrees during practice.
• Walters watches camp — Former Colts wide receiver Troy Walters, who is getting ready to start his first season as the offensive coordinator at Indiana State, took in both of Monday’s practices.
Walters was joined for the afternoon workout by Rose-Hulman head coach Steve Englehart, a former quarterback at Terre Haute North High School and at ISU.
• Big crowds — The morning practice session drew 1,721 fans to camp, which ranked as one of the best first-practice attendance figures since the training camp moved to Terre Haute in 1999.
A total crowd count for Monday’s two workouts was not immediately available.
One interesting sight before, during and after the morning practice was the long line of fans waiting patiently at the autograph tent. Some fans opted to miss the workout in favor of saving their place in line for autographs.
• Sirius NFL Radio, ESPN set to visit camp — Sirius XM Radio’s NFL talk channel will broadcast live from Rose-Hulman today. Former Cincinnati Bengals defensive back Solomon Wilcots and ex-Chicago bears quarterback Jim Miller will host “The Red Zone Live” program from noon to 3 p.m. on channel 124 (both Sirius and XM channel).
ESPN’s Chris Mortensen, meanwhile, will make his appearance at training camp on Friday.
• Quotes of the day — Wide receiver Reggie Wayne joked that he felt a little neglected after the morning practice.
“Man, I was a decoy in my own practice. But it was good to go out there and kind of run around and get our legs up under us. A little midwest sunshine, I guess you can call it. It was good, I had a couple of little hiccups but that’s expected on the first day. Got some stuff we can build on and we’ll just go from there,” Wayne said.
“Didn’t you’ll all not hear [quarterback Peyton Manning] do his interview [Sunday] when he said that he was going to start looking to the left a little more? I didn’t see it happen. Not so far. But we’ve got a long way to go. I’ll keep my fingers crossed.”
It didn’t take long for Manning to respond with a bit of a smile.
“Well, that’s what makes Reggie Reggie. All the great receivers want the ball every play and think they are open every play and that is what separates them,” he laughed.
“I kind of noticed that, I can kind of tell throughout the course of practice if he’s not getting a lot of balls — and he’s real good about it — but he has sort of his subtle ways [of letting Manning know]. I feel confident that come crunch time Reggie will be getting plenty of catches.”
“I’m sure that I’ll get my shot,” he said.