There is a quartet of second-year receivers who Reggie Wayne labeled as “smurfs” last season.
Yes, the group might be small in stature but when it comes to production, Wayne knows their importance in 2013 and beyond.
Wayne has spoken to the young speedsters and the message was brief, but powerful.
“Just to get better,” Wayne said.
“We don’t have room right now to stay the same. You want to see everybody continue to grow, get better and build off of the year that they had last year.
Wayne includes himself in that group, yet it’s obvious that the other receivers have a ways to go before they achieve the numbers that No. 87 has piled up in 13 seasons.
During OTAs, LaVon Brazill, T.Y. Hilton, Nathan Palmer and Griff Whalen have all seen ample playing time with the first unit.
- For Brazill, it’s his first full offseason after academic obligations forced him to miss OTAs last season.
- Hilton has been a frequent target of Andrew Luck’s the past month and the electric receiver/returner has put on some weight this offseason in an effort to sustain an entire NFL season.
- Similar to Brazill, Palmer is getting his first taste of an offseason with the Colts after he was signed off the 49ers practice squad last September.
- Then there’s Whalen, who feels right at home in an offense he played in at Stanford while also feeling healthy after a foot injury sidelined him in 2012.
Luck was not bashful when describing how important his fellow second-year targets will be come September.
“Incredibly,” Luck said. “They are going to be a big, big part of this offense. They were a big part of it last year. They caught a lot of balls, a lot of big balls. For us to be productive we are going to have to have every man on the offensive side of the ball contribute.”
Just two lockers down from Luck, Wayne nods is head in agreement when he hears the need for young receivers to continue to grow.
Expectations in the Colts locker room include plans to play into late January and beyond.
For that to happen, it’s going to take a collective effort from players young and “old.”
“As a team, we set that bar so high, it is going to be tough. But if there is anybody that can do it, it is this coaching staff, it’s these guys in this locker room, it’s this whole organization,” Wayne said of the team’s lofty aspirations.
“We feel like we can go out there and can get better and have a better outcome this year.”
Tags: Andrew Luck, Griff Whalen, LaVon Brazill, nathan palmer, Reggie Wayne, T.Y. Hilton
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Ask virtually any Indiana native and it’s almost a right of initiation for a Hoosier to at least make one visit to the Indianapolis Motor Speedway during the month of May.
Andrew Luck has called Indianapolis home for just over a year and he accomplished that visit on Wednesday afternoon.
Driver Charlie Kimball hosted Luck, Chandler Harnish, Matt Hasselbeck and Griff Whalen as the four players got to tour the No. 83 Novo Nordisk Chip Ganassi Racing garage.
“As a sports fan, it’s awesome to see a spectacle like this, a stadium like this,” Luck said in a Wednesday press conference at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. “To see how different athletes operate and how a race car team operates compared to a football team. Hopefully it will be a little educational for us.”
Busy with school last May, Luck made sure to make it out to the speedway this year and his relationship with Kimball extends back to the IU-Riley event the driver attended with the Colts quarterback.
Kimball’s father is a Stanford alumnus and Charlie’s aunt even spoke to Luck’s freshman English literature class in Palo Alto.
Both Luck and Kimball spent part of their childhood growing up in Europe but now it’s all about the Circle City during the month of the May.
“I wanted them to come see my office, because in the Winter, it’s easy to turn on the TV and see these guys go to work on Sundays,” Kimball said.
“I wanted to give them the opportunity see what I think is the greatest sporting venue in the world – the Indianapolis Motor Speedway and see us turn laps at 215, 220 mph and give them the full Indianapolis experience.”
Tags: Andrew Luck, Chandler Harnish, Griff Whalen, matt hasselbeck
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Each morning Colts.com will take a look at the top headlines surrounding the Indianapolis Colts from around the globe. What is the local and national media saying about the Colts?
Take a look below at the top five pieces from Thursday, May 9th:
By: Eric Ivie, Yahoo! Sports
Ivie breaks down the 10 receivers that are currently on the Colts roster.
He points out that the Colts have just two receivers with more than two years of experience in the NFL (Reggie Wayne and Darrius Heyward-Bey).
It will be an extremely competitive summer for this Colts position group as one would think that second-year receivers T.Y. Hilton and LaVon Brazill have a firm grip on their roster spots (along with Wayne and Heyward-Bey).
The final few spots at the receiver position will be up for grabs with returnees Griff Whalen and Nathan Palmer competing with four newcomers to complete a position group that has a variety of options.
By: Mike Chappel, Indianapolis Star
At 10:00 a.m. this morning, the Colts will have 1,000 upper-level season tickets for sale to the public.
The season ticket sales for the Colts have been in high demand this offseason.
Fans can head to www.colts.com to take a virtual tour of Lucas Oil Stadium and see the seats remaining.
To purchase tickets, fans can either go online to www.colts.com or call (317) 299-4946.
Tags: darrius heyward-bey, Griff Whalen, LaVon Brazill, nathan palmer, Reggie Wayne, T.Y. Hilton
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The anticipation of who would be joining the Colts wide receiver corps came to a close late Monday evening.
After tweets and names were thrown around for the last couple of weeks, the mystery has been solved on the new addition to an already dynamic group of wideouts.
Former first-round draft pick Darrius Heyward-Bey is the newest Colt and continues an offseason of additions for a Colts team coming off an 11-5 regular season.
How does this acquisition impact the Colts?
During the 2012 training camp, wide receiver Reggie Wayne called his fellow receiving corps the fastest that he has ever seen during his then 12 seasons in a Colts uniform.
That notion won’t be changing any time soon with the signing of Heyward-Bey.
With Heyward-Bey in the fold, his sub 4.3 40-yard dash speed should fill the role of departing receiver Donnie Avery.
Heyward-Bey provides Colts quarterback Andrew Luck another electric target that simply needs the ball in his hands to showcase the speed that earned him the No. 7 selection in the 2009 NFL Draft.
Besides Avery, the Colts return every other offensive contributor that gained at least 100 yards of offense last season.
At the receiver position, Wayne will once again lead the group. The Pro Bowl receiver is coming off an 106-catch, 1,355-yard season.
T.Y. Hilton finished second among all rookie receivers with 861 receiving yards despite not being selected until the 92nd pick of the 2012 NFL Draft.
Fellow rookie LaVon Brazill, who Wayne called perhaps the fastest of the bunch in 2012, showed flashes of big play potential in his first season.
Colts general manager Ryan Grigson has also mentioned 2012 undrafted free agent Griff Whalen as a player who could see his chances grow in 2013. Whalen spent his rookie season on injured reserve but the Stanford product is now reunited with college offensive coordinator Pep Hamilton.
All these weapons will be at Luck’s disposal in 2013, along with top two rookie tight ends in the NFL (Dwayne Allen and Coby Fleener), giving the Colts one of the more versatile air attacks in the league.
Tags: Andrew Luck, Coby Fleener, darrius heyward-bey, donnie avery, dwayne allen, Griff Whalen, LaVon Brazill, Reggie Wayne, T.Y. Hilton
Posted in Colts Blog | 18 Comments »
During Monday evening’s conference call with season ticket holders, Colts GM Ryan Grigson answered numerous questions from fans.
Below are a few of the extra tidbits that were not included in the article above. The highlights below are Grigson’s thoughts about some of the lesser-known members of the Colts 2012 rookie class and how he sees LaRon Landry fitting in at the safety position alongside Antoine Bethea:
On the progress of 2012 fifth round draft pick Josh Chapman, who missed the entire season recovering from an ACL injury that he had surgery on in January of 2012:
“Josh Chapman was someone that we feel very highly towards. He was a guy that should have been drafted a lot of higher but he played (his senior season) with a torn ACL and that kind of shows you what kind of guy he is. Most guys don’t play on it. He played through the whole season, won a National Championship and he was the one hoisting the trophy at the end. He’s a huge man, 350-360 pounds, quick-footed guy that I think is going to make a big difference for us in the run game. He’s somebody that you can look forward to seeing out there this year.”
On the development of sixth round draft pick LaVon Brazill, who caught 11 passes for 186 yards and a touchdown in 2012.
-LaVon Brazill had some great flashes of brilliance against Detroit and some other games as a vertical threat. He’s big. He’s strong and he can get off press (coverage). He’s been a really good special teamer and made some plays as a gunner on our punt team. He’s a guy, as a sixth round pick, I think will continue to grow.”
On the prospect of undrafted free agent wide receiver Griff Whalen and if he could follow in the mold of other successful undrafted slot receivers in the NFL:
-We feel that we have a pretty good young, slot receiver in Griff Whalen. He would have played and probably caught a lot of balls for us this past year had he not broken his foot.
On the safety position with Pro Bowlers LaRon Landry lining up next to Antoine Bethea moving forward:
-They will play side-by-side. In Chuck’s defense, I think we will have the best safety tandem in the NFL. I really do. They are two of the best at their position. They’ll be just fine back their together. I think Antoine was one of the first players to even react to the signing because the culture we have is ‘we just want to win.’ We are not worried about the other things, ‘we just want to win.’ Players and true champions, they want the best around them. They want to play with the best players.”
Tags: Griff Whalen, josh chapman, laron landry, LaVon Brazill, ryan grigson
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Coby Fleener is entering just his second NFL season but when it comes to learning the Colts offense next year, veterans will be heading towards the Stanford product for understanding the language of new offensive coordinator Pep Hamilton’s scheme.
During Fleener’s senior season at Stanford, the tight end flourished in Hamilton’s offense hauling in 10 touchdowns while earning first-team All-America honors.
In Hamilton’s two seasons directing the Cardinal offense, Stanford played in back-to-back BCS bowls and it’s that success that has the 38-year old offensive coordinator heading to the NFL.
What exactly are the Colts getting in Hamilton?
“Most importantly a hard worker and a guy that’s proven that he can win as an offensive coordinator,” Fleener said of Hamilton.
Along with Fleener, the Colts offense will also benefit from having former Stanford Cardinals Andrew Luck and Griff Whalen familiar with Hamilton’s offense.
While even Hamilton admitted he does not know exactly what aspects of the offense he will continue to use in Indianapolis, Fleener offered a few nuances of the differences between the one he played in at Stanford and Bruce Arians’ scheme from last season.
“I would say first and foremost it’s just how the play is set,” Fleener said. “Every time you bring in a different type of offense it’s learning new language and thankfully Andrew (Luck), and I, and Griff Whalen have been in that offense before so we’ll be able to tutor guys if we go that route. I don’t know how much is going to be (Hamilton) learning the stuff we ran last year or us learning stuff that he brings.”
Whalen played under Hamilton at the receiver position in 2010 before Pep was elevated to offensive coordinator the last two seasons.
One vital aspect of Hamilton’s offense over the past two years has been balance.
While Luck turned in a performance that earned him a spot as a Heisman finalist in 2011, the signal caller also relied on a heavy dose of an effective rushing attack.
Hamilton had a 1,300+ and 1,500+-yard runner during his stint as Cardinal offensive coordinator and it’s that flexibility that has his former players excited to be reunited with him at the professional level.
“I think there are a lot of variables that you have to take into consideration, the fact that we’re in the NFL, different personnel, different hash marking on the field, something as small as that, it’s a lot of different things,” Fleener said.
“But I think that Coach Pep will bring a balanced approach at the very least. I’m excited to welcome Pep to Indianapolis.”
Tags: Andrew Luck, Coby Fleener, Griff Whalen, Pep Hamilton
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Under the bright lights, a hostile road environment and going up against one of the most accomplished teams in the NFL over the past decade, a handful of Colts rookies more than held their own in Week 2 of the preseason.
Running back Vick Ballard: Ballard made the most of extended playing time with the first team offense. He led the rushing attack with 10 carries while filling in for injured backs Delone Carter and Mewelde Moore. Offensive coordinator Bruce Arians has been high on the rookie running back dating back to minicamp, stating he needed to see Ballard in pads before assessing the pass blocking skills of the Mississippi State product. The offensive line, along with running backs Donald Brown and Ballard, did a nice job of keeping quarterback Andrew Luck upright on the evening. Luck was sacked once in 25 attempts against a Steelers defense which led the NFL in 2011.
Wide receiver Griff Whalen: The young receivers seem to be plugged in one after another and performing admirably in Arians’ offense. Whalen sat out the early portion of training camp due to a foot injury, but was able to practice all of last week before making his NFL debut against the Steelers. The rookie from Stanford had an eight-yard reception on the Colts last drive of the first half which led to an Adam Vinatieri field goal. Whalen finished the game with four catches for 59 yards and caught a four-yard touchdown from quarterback Drew Stanton. He has added another name to an already loaded position with young talent that saw ample playing time on Sunday with wide receivers Donnie Avery and Austin Collie sidelined.
Tight ends Dwayne Allen and Coby Fleener: Allen caught his first NFL pass in the Steelers game and finished the contest with two grabs for 18 yards. The versatile Allen lined up in a variety of spots and had the Colts first catch of the evening. Fleener caught three balls for 33 yards with a long reception of 24. Allen and Fleener both had first down receptions on the Colts first touchdown drive.
Outside linebacker Jerry Brown: Brown might be the least heralded of all the Colts outside linebackers but his production led all defenders against the Steelers. The seven tackles Brown made tied Jerry Hughes for the team lead. At 6-foot-4-inches and 265 pounds, Brown fits the outside linebacker frame the hybrid 3-4 defense calls for. Brown was signed by the Colts during minicamp and has had the beneficiary of being a member of the same position group as Dwight Freeney and Robert Mathis. Against the Steelers, Brown had two of the team’s six tackles for loss and recorded a tackle on special teams.
Tags: Coby Fleener, dwayne allen, Griff Whalen, Jerry Brown, vick ballard
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Throughout the remainder of training camp, Colts rookie tight end Coby Fleener will sit down for a Q and A twice a week to talk about life in the NFL. The Colts chose the 6-foot-6-inch Fleener with the 34th pick in April’s NFL Draft. Fleener went to Stanford University and was named a first team All-American in 2011, while setting a school record for tight end’s by averaging 19.6 yards a catch.
Coby, your thoughts on being drafted by the Colts, and how you are enjoying your new hometown of Indianapolis:
“I’m excited to be here first and foremost. To have the awesome coaching staff, and the players that they have on this team already, I’m excited to be apart of it. The fans have been awesome and very welcoming. Now, that we have Twitter, and things like that to hear the outpouring of support for the Colts organization and all the nice things that people have said to me is exciting.”
Players all throughout the league use social media, and specifically Twitter, for different purposes. How do you use Twitter and what are some of the advantages of you see with it?
“I think it’s fun. I think it’s an opportunity to connect with people that you may not have gotten to meet or talked to outside of Twitter. So it’s a cool opportunity, as a fan, to be able to interact with a player. It’s a cool opportunity for a player to be able to interact with different fans.”
During some of the Colts OTAs, Fleener had to go back to Stanford to finish up classes he was taking as he is working towards a Master’s Degree in Media Studies. How difficult was it balancing school and a new playbook, especially being away from the football field?
“It was stressful, but I kind of saw the light at the end of the tunnel. I realized if I could just sacrifice now more time, then I think in the end it would be worth it.”
Following mini-camp, the 2012 Colts rookies were able to do some site seeing around the city of Indianapolis. The rookie class went to Bankers Life Fieldhouse, the Indianapolis Zoo and St. Elmo Steak House. How was that experience, and do you have a favorite restaurant, or place to see in Indianapolis?
“The experience was awesome just getting to know the area, figuring out some things to do, in a little free time that we do have. I don’t know what my favorite place would be yet. I think I’ll have to experience a little bit more before I declare a favorite place.”
Fleener was a dual-sport athlete at Joilet (Ill.) Catholic Academy. When did you realize during your high school career that you would have to hang up the sneakers and that football would be your future?
“I thought probably up until about the end of my junior year, that basketball would have been the way to go. Bottom line is there are more scholarships available for football. I got better looks for football and went that route.”
In his first three years at Joilet, Fleener was primarily a blocker for a team that relied on the run much more than the pass. However, in his senior season though Fleener caught 34 passes for 706 yards and eight touchdowns. Was it difficult going through the recruiting process without a ton of action in the passing game?
“Fortunately for me during my senior year they passed the ball significantly more than they typically did. It’s always tough to try and deal with recruitment and still maintain your grades.”
After entertaining offers from many Big 12 schools, Fleener committed to Stanford. He visited Palo Alto, California in December of his senior season before committing the following month. What ultimately sold you on Stanford?
“I think partially it was because I want to be the best in everything that I do. I wanted to have the opportunity to get the best education possible. With coach (Jim) Harbaugh coming in he truly believed that we could win a championship there, and we ended up turning a program around that was 1-11 the year before we got there. Obviously we had players like Andrew (Luck), Griff Whalen, that helped contribute to that as well. To have the recruiting that they did have and the quality coaching staff was really an awesome experience.”
Was the balance of academic and athletic excellence at Stanford too good to pass up even though you had to leave family and friends behind half way across the country?
“Absolutely. I think the best way to put it is if you get into Stanford there is no reason you shouldn’t go. Don’t let finances be a factor. They have one of the best financial aid programs in the nation, so it was exciting.”
Stanford has a rich history of sending guys to the NFL and currently has over 25 players on NFL rosters. Did you talk to any former teammates about what life in the NFL is like? What were your expectations coming into your first training camp?
“I talked to Jim Dray a little bit, who’s a tight end for the Arizona Cardinals. I think my expectation is day-by-day, and to work my butt off each day so that we have the best chance of winning.”
Each of the Colts rookies have had to sing a song in front of their teammates as a welcoming to the NFL. Can you tell us what song you sang, and how you would rate your performance compared to your fellow rookies?
“I can’t divulge the song. The team voted that I was in last place as of three nights ago. My feelings aren’t totally crushed but pretty close.”
After picking Fleener in the second round of April’s NFL Draft, the Colts took another tight end in the third round, Clemson’s Dwayne Allen. What were your thoughts when the Colts selected you knowing that offensive coordinator Bruce Arians would be coaching you and the prospect of a multitude of sets with two tight ends?
“It’s awesome. To have (offensive coordinator) coach (Bruce) Arians, to have coach (tight ends coach Alfredo Roberts) Roberts, to have Dwayne (Allen) to have Andrew, it’s unbelievable to me that I was this fortunate to come to this team at this time. I couldn’t be more thankful for the opportunity.”
Tags: Andrew Luck, bruce arians, Coby Fleener, dwayne allen, Griff Whalen
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