Caldwell: A Very Good Class of Young Men

Colts coach Jim Caldwell talked to the media during the team's rookie mini-camp this weekend. See what he had to say about the newest Colts and their first experience in the Horseshoe!

"Good afternoon. We certainly got ourselves off to a good start. (We have) a very good class of young men. You certainly can't, right now, at this point, do any serious assessment of what they are going to look like once you get pads on, but they seem to learn well, and they adjust quickly."

On the players making a lot of mistakes today:

"We try to give them a fairly large amount of material. At the beginning, they are going to make some mistakes. It's a bit different than what they've been accustomed too. It moves a little quicker than what they've been accustomed too, just in terms of the volume of information. We just tell them to hang in there. They are not going to make the team or get cut from the team this weekend, or anything of that nature. We try to settle their nerves just a little bit."

On rookies being more cognizant of their behavior:

"I would think so. The climate is such that there is not a whole lot of tolerance for misdeeds out in our communities. We've had some fairly significant cases that have received a lot of attention, here lately. All of our guys are aware of that."

On OG Jacques McClendon:

"From what we see, he certainly has a big upside. There is no question about that. I do think he has the strength and size to develop. He's played at a range from 305 pounds to fairly close to 330 (pounds). He does have the ability to carry quite a bit of weight, but he's also a guy that is athletic. I think he's off to a good start. We think he'll be able to grow and develop."

On how many football players he's heard of that can bench press 645 pounds:

"Not many. I'm not certain I've heard of any to be honest with you, not football players at least. You hear about weight-lifters that certainly have gotten up around those numbers, but I haven't heard of very many football players."

On OG Jacques McClendon's maturity:

"We look for individuals that have an ample amount of intelligence to function within our system. Things that we do from an offensive and defensive standpoint, even in our kicking game, require guys that have quick and resourceful minds. He's one of those. Those guys certainly do help us, in terms of being able to add a lot of information quickly and being able to grasp that information in a short period of time."

On the offensive interior linemen:

"I think anytime you get some depth that it helps. I think competition is healthy, and I do think that some of the guys are going to push some of the guys lined up in front of them and that overall it's going to be a real good, healthy competition."

On the kick return game:

"When you look overall at our kick return game it's been lacking. There is no question about that. You know me, I'm not going to try to hide from the facts. It hasn't been quite as explosive as we'd like, but the league, because of the speed that you face, does not allow anyone to just blow the top off, in terms of their ability to return the ball up and down the field. You've had guys that have done it in spurts, here and there. All we want to do is be better than we were. We're not looking for a guy that is going to run back eight kick returns (for touchdowns) because it is not going to happen, but we are looking to improve upon where we are. We're looking to be more consistent. If we catch the ball and make certain that it doesn't hit the ground, if we don't gain an inch, in terms of our punt return, we're still not in bad shape. We do have some guys that can put that ball in the end zone. In kickoff return, we just need to get the ball consistently out past the 20 (yard line). That's what we'd like to do. We're just pushing to get a little above the norm."

On blocking needing to improve on the return game:

"I think all phases, really. We have to block better. We have to do a better job with our techniques. Guys have to have vision and find the hole and get in it quickly because it doesn't take long for them to close up. I don't think you can just look at one thing and say, ‘This is the problem.' There are a few things we need to work on."

On what he does want to have accomplished by Sunday:

"There are three things that we look for. Number one, we want to make certain they understand our culture, in terms of how we do things: how we do it, what we do and the pace at which we do it. I mean those three things are extremely important. (We also want them to) have a real good understanding of our strength and conditioning program, so when they do leave here they know how to continue getting themselves ready. There is a difference between college shape and professional football shape, and they are learning that, I think. But, overall, it is more of an information session for them. It's more teaching them our culture and how we do things, as opposed to anticipating and expecting them to grasp everything from a schematic standpoint."

On the team's captains LB Gary Brackett and QB Peyton Manning talking to the rookies this morning:

"It was a great moment. Obviously, Peyton and Gary did a tremendous job with them. They have done things the right way around here. They are also guys that are very, very accomplished at what they do. I think it was a unique moment for those guys. You could kind of see them all sit up in their seat when the two of them walked in. It was great because what those two guys do is set a great standard for us, and I was glad they were able to communicate that to our young guys."

On if he asked LB Gary Brackett and QB Peyton Manning to speak to them:

"No, it was actually something they wanted to do on their own. I think they looked at the situation and said, ‘Hey coach, do you mind if we talk a little bit and give them, from our vantage point, what we expect?' When you have a veteran-laden team, like we do, one of the things you can't be is afraid to allow them to speak their mind and to take on a position of leadership. It was a great thing."

On if he told RB Javarris James to not try to live up to his cousin RB Edgerrin James:

"Yes, that has been said to him, but also you know Edge, and I'm certain that Edge has said that to him on several occasions. I don't think he's trying to come in here and live up those expectations because it would be a daunting task, obviously. He is who he is. He has his own set of skills and that's what he has to rely on."

On if the teams history of having undrafted free agents make the team helps give hope to this class of undrafted free agents:

"I think quite a bit. That's one of our strong selling points when we go out and recruit them because after the draft is over with it is a free-for-all. There are a lot of teams contacting these same guys, who are very talented guys, and they are trying to get them in to make their teams. One of the things that we can sell is the fact that we do have a lot of guys that were in the same position, that came in, and are now playing for us. LB Gary Brackett, as we mentioned, is one of those guys. C Jeff Saturday was a free agent. DB Melvin Bullitt (and) DB Jacob Lacey just last year, were able to (make the team as undrafted free agents). I think it certainly bodes well for us in proving our point."


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