NFL rookies always talk about the speed. Then about learning the playbook.
Mewhort, a second-round pick out of Ohio State, played left tackle for the Buckeyes last season. He’s been elevated to starting left guard in the wake of Donald Thomas suffering a season-ending quad injury.
“I mentioned it before, but the whole game just speeds up,” Mewhort said. “I don't know if it particularly has to do with changing up positions (left tackle in college) as much as just transitioning to the NFL. Everything clicks so much faster and with a quarterback like Andrew (Luck), things are moving fast out there so you always have to have your mind ready to go, ready to adjust. I think that's one big adjustment from college to the NFL.”
Colts coach Chuck Pagano likes what he’s seen from Mewhort so far.
“He doesn't flinch whether we play him at tackle, guard or center,” the coach said. “He can play all the spots and plays them well. We would like to settle him in but unfortunately we’re going to have to work with him at different spots. The guy is unflappable, he’s a tough guy, nothing seems to bother Jack. Again, he has a lot of attributes that you can point to that make him a good football player and a great football player down the road.”
Mewhort has been getting some practice snaps at center since Khaled Holmes went down with an ankle injury in the preseason opener. Pagano wants the rookie to gain confidence at guard, but will have him hiking the ball if necessary. Rookie Jonotthan Harrison has been getting most of the snaps with the first team.
“Yeah, center is you’re kind of out there leading the charge and making the calls, and you have to be the one that sees everything,” Mewhort said. “So it’s definitely a little bit of mental gymnastics going through all the different stuff but I accepted the challenge. It helps me. When you know the offense from the center out, it helps you understand different positions like guard and tackle. In the long run, it’s a big help.”
Moncrief, a third-round pick out of Mississippi, has impressed so far with his on-field skills. But from the beginning of rookie camp and offseason training activities, he’s quick to mention the need to study the playbook.
“The playbook, the playbook is huge. You got to learn the playbook,” Moncrief said. “Without learning the playbook, you can’t get on the field. Just getting in that playbook every night talking to Reggie (Wayne), T.Y. (Hilton), and Hakeem (Nicks), helps with the small things of what to learn about the playbook in every position. If you know every position, that’s the quicker you get on the field.”
Colts offensive coordinator Pep Hamilton says Moncrief has picked up the team’s intricate system quickly. Moncrief had one 16-yard catch in his preseason debut against the New York Jets last week.
“Moncrief is a guy that has been showing little flashes of his potential and everyone is very excited for the kind of player that he can be some day,” Hamilton said. “We joke around a lot, but he has done a really good job for someone his age (21), coming in and plays one position at wide receiver all OTAs, (then) we moved him recently and he has done a great job of picking it up and does a great job of making plays when the ball is in the air.”
Mewhort had the “honor” of getting his head shaved by teammates during camp. Some of his Buckeyes buddies back in Columbus, Ohio, as well as his parents, got a kick out of rather close shave.
“It’s all laughs,” he said. “My mom texted me about it. I know it got out there about 10 minutes after it happened and my mom and dad texted me and they were laughing. It’s just part of the process. I take it as an honor that those guys think highly enough to, you know, initiate me like that and bring me in so it’s a lot of fun.”
Asked if he’s better looking now, Mewhort said, “I wasn’t very good-looking to start with, so hopefully this helps a little bit.”
Phillip B. Wilson can be found on Twitter (@pwilson24), Facebook and Google+.