Monday is the first day of club’s voluntary nine-week off-season program that is conducted in three phases.
The first phase runs two weeks and includes strength and conditioning and physical rehabilitation only.
Players are starting to filter into the Indiana Farm Bureau Football Center a bit more these days, and one of the most seasoned veterans has a feeling of excitement and expectation.
Only once has Antoine Bethea had a non-winning season. Last year had a better feel for him as the club jumped back to 11-5.
“It most definitely was a stepping stone, heading back in the right direction,” said Bethea. “The year before we had a down year, but the new pieces that came into the building last year did a great job of coming together.
“We were just trying to reach that common goal (of the Super Bowl), but we fell short. This year we have a lot to look forward to.”
Last season brought a number of new faces to Indianapolis with the additions of Ryan Grigson and Chuck Pagano.
Year Two of their regime has seen the club shop heavily in unrestricted free agency, and the club landed safety LaRon Landry and cornerback Greg Toler to bolster the secondary.
Landry, 6-0, 220, is a physical presence described by Grigson as an “absolute game changer and a true impact player.” Landry has started 79 career games with Washington and the New York Jets, making the Pro Bowl last season.
Toler, 6-0, 192, is a snap-to-whistle player, too, and he will try to help the club solidify a corner position opposite of Vontae Davis.
“They’re two good football players. I’m very excited to go out on the field and play with those guys,” said Bethea. “LaRon is a specimen out there, a big, physical guy. To line up alongside him and make plays (is exciting). Toler is a good corner. I’m ready to go out there, get together and do some good things.”
Spring work is not on the level of training camp, but it is vitally important to the gelling of a team. Almost no unit needs it more than the secondary, and Bethea seeks comfort with all members of the secondary during the spring.
“The plan is to build the camaraderie and feel comfortable with one another out there on the playing field. That’s the main thing,” said Bethea. “Once you go out there, you can play well with one another, know what each other’s going to do without really even thinking about it. That’s what builds a great team.
“We want to be a great team, be close on and off the field. The off-season training, you go out and have some fun and get ready for the season.”
Phase Two goes for three weeks. On-field workouts can include individual player instruction and drills. Team practice is fine as long as it is done on a separate basis, and no contact or team offense-versus-defense work is permitted.
Phase Three is the final four weeks. Teams may have a total of 10 days of organized team practice (called OTAs). No contact is allowed again, but seven-on-seven, nine-on-seven and 11-on-11 drills are part of the process.
The Colts will hold a rookie mini-camp from May 10-12, and the mandatory veteran mini-camp is June 11-13, including a practice at Lucas Oil Stadium on Wednesday, June 12 from 5:30 to 8:00 p.m. that is open to the public.
Tags: antoine bethea, greg toler, indianapolis colts, laron landry
Posted in Colts Blog