News From Terre Haute, Indiana

May 17, 2012

Colts working on rebuilding as Luck finishes at Stanford

Tom James
Tribune-Star Correspondent

INDIANAPOLIS — With No 1 quarterback Andrew Luck finishing up architectural classes at Stanford, coach Chuck Pagano’s rebuilding project goes on as scheduled during the Indianapolis Colts’ organized team activity practices at the team’s West 56th Street headquarters.

The first week of Indianapolis’ voluntary OTA workouts began Tuesday and are scheduled to wrap-up June 7. With a mandatory mini-camp is set for June 12-14, Luck is expected to report to the team June 8 and then return to Palo Alto to participate in Stanford’s graduation ceremonies June 17.

His absence from the OTA sessions, though, have certainly been noticed. But there’s little he or the Colts can do about it.

National Football League rules stipulate that rookie players who have not finished semester/quarter classes at their respective colleges are not allowed to participate in any official team activities outside of the usual rookie mini-camps, which take place a week after the conclusion of the draft.

“For him [not] to be here, taking snaps, building chemistry, the timing with the offense, timing with the receivers, all those kind of things, it’s days lost,’’ I said. “It’s like money you never get back. It’d be awesome to have him here, but we’re going to make do.’’

A pair of wide receivers, sixth-round draft pick LaVon Brazill and undrafted free agent Griff Whalen, have also been forced to sit out the practice sessions.

Whalen was a collegiate teammate of Luck’s at Stanford, so they’ve been spending the time since the Colts’ rookie mini-camp ended involved in their own on-campus workouts. The Indianapolis coaching staff — specifically Pagano, offensive coordinator Bruce Arians and quarterbacks coach Clyde Christensen — have kept in contact with the new face of the Colts franchise.

“Constant communication,” Pagano said. “We’re talking back and forth. He was able to take some stuff with him [from when Luck was at the team’s recent rookie camp]. Besides school, he’s spending time with Griff out there and a couple of his other teammates.

“He does football in the morning. Goes out throws, works out. He’s staying on top of everything. He’s on point, does a couple classes. Spoke to him, as a matter of fact [Tuesday] night. He called me. It’s killing him not to be [at the team’s OTA practices]. He’s dying to be out here. He’s doing well.”

Interestingly, the Colts are using last summer’s NFL lockout as sort of a template for how to get Luck ready for the start of training camp.

“It would be awesome to have him here. But we’ll make do,” Pagano said. “Last year, we had a lockout right? And so there were four or five rookie quarterbacks that came in. A couple of those guys [Carolina’s Cam Newton and Cincinnati’s Andy Dalton] had more success than others.

“So doing what [Luck] is doing, spending time now with the materials that we’ve given him, working out and throwing. Right now we’re working on guys getting together [with Luck] outside of Indy so we can start to build that camaraderie and that chemistry with those guys. It is what it is, that’s where we’re at.”

n Injury list — OT Anthony Castonzo (knee), OG Ben Ijalana (knee), LB Kavell Conner (foot), S David Caldwell (foot), WR T.Y. Hilton (quad), QB Chandler Harnish (knee), RB Delone Carter (thumb), and C Samson Satele (knee) are sitting out the Colts’ OTA practices this week.

Carter had surgery on his thumb recently and it’s not known when he will be able to resume workouts. Harnish, meanwhile, tweaked his knee while working out last week.

“I know [Carter is] progressing, I know he’s doing what he’s supposed to do. It’s kind of a day-to-day deal,” Pagano said. “They did some surgery on [his thumb]. They repaired it. It’s just a matter of time before we get him back.”

The prognosis for Harnish is good as well.

“We held him out today. He tweaked his knee a little bit in a training session. So they did some evaluation on it, it’s nothing serious and he’s got a sprain,” the Colts coach said. “Like always, we’re going to error on the side of caution and hold him back. He might miss a couple to three weeks. I don’t know what it will be.”

Satele, who was added to the Indianapolis roster in April, is also nursing a sore knee.

“He’s doing OK. Again we always try to error on the side of caution especially this time of year. With the numbers that we have you can afford to hold a guy out, give him some time and not force the issue, so to speak,” Pagano said.

“You want him out there, you want him learning, you want him communicating and you want to build some chemistry amongst the line. At the same time you want to be smart. It’s pure rehab stuff.”

n Draft picks and the roster — The Colts have yet to sign any of their 10 draft picks, But the Indianapolis coach says there’s no cause for concern.

“No, it’s not a concern at all. The lines of communication are open and there is great dialogue. To us it’s not a race to get it done. It’s going to get done. We’re not worried about it.,” he said, adding that there could be future additions to the team’s roster.

The Colts added tight end Andre Smith on Tuesday and released cornerback Mike Holmes. Smith had been waived by Chicago. Smith is now one of six tight ends who are working out with the team.

“Anytime we can bring a guy in and upgrade so to speak and supplement a position where we need to we’re going to make that move. We’re going to be extremely active as we go,” Pagano said.