Analysis: Remember, It's Just Shorts 'N' Shirts Season

Colts' offseason workouts overhyped without much news.

After the extended Memorial Day weekend, the Indianapolis Colts didn’t practice to head coach Chuck Pagano’s liking on Tuesday.

That said, what does “not real crisp” mean if anything during offseason training activities?

The media blitz that surrounds today’s NFL suggests every little detail gets reported, often times without the necessary perspective. Inquiring minds want to know anything and everything. How did this rookie look? Who has been most impressive? Can so-and-so perhaps win a starting job this season?

What gets lost in these common questions and answers is the reality that this time of year sees NFL players work out in shirts and shorts. Rookies try to get acclimated with how the Colts handle their business on a daily basis. Learn the playbook and keep studying. Know where the meals are served. Study some more. Veterans set the example. They’re in shape because true pros understand their profession is an all-year commitment.

About the only subject worthy of note pertains to injured players. Did quarterback Andrew Luck look good? Does he have any practice restrictions?

Yes, he looks good. No limitations. Luck looks ready to regain his three-time Pro Bowl form. We learned that when the team started practicing in late April.

After that, you wonder how players such as defensive tackle Arthur Jones and offensive guard Hugh Thornton are doing in rehab. We won’t know for sure what to expect from them until training camp in late July.

Jones has assured he’ll be ready. Thornton is an unknown, but he knows he likely won’t make this roster if he can’t perform. The former third-round pick is running out of chances to prove his worth and the Colts are working out several others at guard, including center Jonotthan Harrison and rookie Joe Haeg. Denzelle Good could also end up in that mix.

Beyond that, don’t get too caught up in the daily reports from shirts-and-shorts season. Unless someone gets hurt, these workouts are just part of the process. Pagano is responsible for ensuring his men practice the way he expects, sure, but I’ve seen far too many headlines from reporters making too much out of very little.

The questions I have about the Colts won’t change between now and when the team reports for training camp at Anderson University. Will the Colts be able to generate enough of a pass rush to make new coordinator Ted Monachino’s scheme work? Will that right side of the offensive line be shored up to give Luck his best group of blockers since he arrived in 2012?

Beyond that, we won’t know until games get played where Colts coaches are slotting players in terms of who starts and who subs at the undecided positions. And even then, remember how Pagano re-shuffled the O-line after two games last season?

The NFL grind of a season is about continual adjustments. Teams adjust to strengthen their weaknesses from Day 1. Then it never stops. Guys get hurt. Remember how the Colts lost Jones for the season during the preseason? Other players get plugged in. Henry Anderson was an impressive rookie playing out of position, then he suffered a season-ending knee injury. We wonder if the team will be able to succeed in spite of anyone important subtracted from the equation.

Keep all of this in mind the next time someone offers a report from Colts practice that shapes your opinion on the future. There will be more reports next week, when the Colts have their three-day veteran’s mini-camp, which includes a Wednesday night open practice at Lucas Oil Stadium.

It’s the last chance to see and hear from the players before training camp. Then we’re reminded of the reality I’ll reiterate once more with feeling.

Preseason is still two months away. The regular season still starts in September.

Barring any new injuries, there’s still way too much time until then to get too worked up over anything that’s happening now.

Phillip B. Wilson also can be found on Facebook and Google+.


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