Open mini-camp practice delights Colts fans

There's nothing like a public workout at Lucas Oil Stadium to provide up-close interaction between players and fans.

The Lucas Oil Stadium scoreboard clock didn’t click. Time stood still for 30 minutes Wednesday afternoon as Indianapolis Colts fans lined the venue’s padded walls for player autographs.

About 5,000 spectators showed up to get an up-close moment or two with their men in blue. Practice can be routine, but they’re typically closed to the public. That made this open mini-camp workout special.

Fans got to see wide receiver Andre Johnson for the first time in a Colts uniform, and he didn’t disappoint in snagging a back-of-the-end-zone pass from Andrew Luck for a touchdown.

Others exhorted another new face, running back Frank Gore, as he high-stepped through a drill and caught a few passes of his own. His mind was on business, but he could hear those calling his name.

Rookie wide receiver Phillip Dorsett showed the exceptional speed befitting his status as a first-round draft choice.

“We’re still not sure how defenses are going to play us this year,” said tight end Dwayne Allen. “Who are you going to double-team? Pick your poison, so to speak. It’s Dorsett. It’s T.Y. Hilton. It’s Andre Johnson, Donte Moncrief. So many weapons that hopefully free up the middle for myself and (tight end) Coby Fleener.”

Safety Mike Adams got his hands on a Luck pass for an end-zone interception. The defense had something to celebrate, and did. Adams said he was going to give the ball to Hilton and never let him hear the end of it.

Cornerback Vontae Davis had on his can’t-miss, fluorescent green cleats.

Even the NFL’s oldest player got into the act. Adam Vinatieri showed his 42-year-old right leg can still boom a football as he made a 61-yard field goal.

Allen gave everyone a brief scare as he landed on the FieldTurf with a painful thud after a run-in with safety Dwight Lowery on a pass play near the end of the two-hour workout. Allen flexed his left knee, eventually shook it off and returned to seven-on-seven drills.

“No worry. No worry,” Allen said. “Dwight Lowery made a great play. He obviously has fresh legs. My legs are still coming along. I need to do a better job of getting faster. During this time of year, it’s a no-contact period and if I was faster he wouldn’t have contacted me. That was on me.”

Outside linebacker Robert Mathis didn’t practice. The 2013 sack champion is still on the mend from surgery to repair a torn Achilles tendon. But he signed autographs.

When the on-field work ended, owner Jim Irsay addressed the Colts at mid-field. The summation was a reiteration of what he’s always been about — his passion for football.

“It’s just what he shared ever since he was a young boy,” head coach Chuck Pagano said of his 55-year-old owner, “his passion for the game and the love for the game and the love for this team and this fan base and this organization and what an honor and privilege it is to be a Colt and to wear a horseshoe on the side of your helmet. Just reiterated what we’re chasing. We’re chasing greatness.”

Adams added, “Yeah, I was fired up, too. He has the same goals we have, to hang another banner up and to win that Super Bowl.”

Irsay presented Mathis with a shiny watch in honor of the pass rusher winning the inaugural Deacon Jones Award for leading the league in sacks two years ago.

“I didn’t see the watch,” Adams said. “I just saw the diamonds from way back. It almost hurt my eyes.”

Before the team called it a day, Mathis pointed to the rafters at the Colts’ Super Bowl XLI banner from the 2006 postseason.

“He said that needs to happen again this year,” Allen said.

Phillip B. Wilson can be found on Twitter (@pwilson24), Facebook and Google+.


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