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Team Report - INDIANAPOLIS COLTS

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INSIDE SLANT

Versatility.

That's what the Indianapolis Colts are looking for on their retooled offensive line. Gone are guys like center Samson Satele, offensive guard Mike McGlynn and offensive guard Jeff Linkenbach. New to the mix are center Khaled Holmes, offensive guard Hugh Thornton and rookie offensive guard Jack Mewhort.

Getting a Colts offensive line that can stay healthy and develop some much-needed chemistry has been a goal that pre-dated the arrival of head coach Chuck Pagano and general manager Ryan Grigson.

Satele and McGlynn were early signings by Grigson in 2012 in an effort to bolster the depth and strength of the offensive line. Neither player turned out to be what the Colts were ultimately looking for. Linkenbach was a holdover from the Bill Polian regime who did okay as a backup but often struggled when called upon to be a spot starter.

Holmes as a fourth-round draft pick in 2013 who saw very limited playing time as a rookie, Thornton was a third-round draft pick last year who was pressed into service midway through his first season when starter Donald Thomas suffered season-ending biceps and quad injuries. Mewhort, meanwhile, was the Colts' second-round draft pick last spring.

Big things are expected from all three this fall, with Holmes and Thornton already penciled in as starters. Mewhort will battle for playing time at one of the guard spots. He could prove to be a valuable resource, especially with Thomas coming back from injuries.

The trio can also play multiple positions. Holmes is a center and guard. Thornton can play both guard spots or fill in at center if needed. Mewhort has experience as a collegian at Ohio State playing center, guard and tackle.

Throw in guys like veteran guard Joe Reitz, former Chicago Bears offensive guard Lance Louis, rookie centers Jonotthan Harrison and FN Lutz, and second-year tackle Xaiver Nixon as well.

Reitz can play both guard and both tackle positions if needed. Harrison might also get work at center or guard.

Offensive tackle Anthony Castonzo appreciates the ability that it takes to be able to play multiple positions on the offensive line.

"I feel real good. We've got a lot of guys that can play a lot of positions, which is huge because you never know what's going to happen in a season. Young guys are showing that they can play. A lot of guys got a lot of fight in them," Castonzo said.

"The veterans are kind of coming together and we're forming a good O-line. Everything you want to see happening is happening. "I think it's good to see because we've got a lot of guys that can play center, which is always really big. We've got guys that can play both guards. It's just guys showing that they can do more than play just one position. Every year shows that. You never know what's going to happen. There's a lot of bodies flying around and things happen, so it's good that we have guys like that."

For Colts fans, it's a bit of deja vu. Former Indianapolis offensive line coach Howard Mudd was a big proponent of having players who could be moved around to different positions if needed.

Pagano likes the versatility that all the differing parts of the offensive line offer.

"You guys probably saw Khaled Holmes in there at center, you saw Donald Thomas in there at center, you saw Jack Mewhort in there at center, Jonotthan Harrison in there at center, you saw Jonotthan at left guard," the Indianapolis head coach said after a recent practice.

"We've got a group of guys that are very, very bright, obviously very passionate about football and have versatility. With what we've been through in the past, it only helps having guys that know multiple positions and can play multiple positions."

Not only do the Colts have guys who can play a variety of positions, but they also have guys who don't mind lining up where they are needed the most. That's the key according to Pagano.

"Again, it's the more you can do. We've got a lot of guys that are trying to make this team and we've got competition all over the place. We've got great competition in the offensive line. So that old saying, 'The more that you can do,' " he said.

"When it comes down to cut-down time and you're trying to decide a 53-man roster, if a guy can play tackle, guard and center compared to a guy that can play one position, you can figure that one out on where you make the decision."

NOTES, QUOTES

--Longtime Colts media relations director Craig Kelley, who has been the team's website director the last three seasons, retired from the team. Kelley worked for the franchise for 29 years.

He was the media relations director from 1987-2010.

--Indianapolis waived WR Aaron Brooks, RB Chris Rainey and OT Jack Breckner. The Colts added OT Matt Hall, RB Davin Meggett, RB Phillip Tanner and LB Jonathon Sharpe. OLB Aaron Morgan was placed on injured reserve.

Rainey was waived for violation of team policy. Colts officials have not said what the violation was.

--Indianapolis will have its only night practice (6:30 p.m.) of training camp on Thursday. The Colts will have a short work schedule next week heading into the pre-season opener at Met Life Stadium against the New York Jets (Aug. 7).

--Colts team owner Jim Irsay took in a couple of workouts over the weekend.

Irsay is happy with the progress his team has shown under the guidance of general manager Ryan Grigson and head coach Chuck Pagano the last two seasons.

"Just talking with Chuck and Ryan, everyone's just really excited. Of course Andrew's ready and excited, his third year. It seems hard to believe three years have passed, but we're really looking for special things," he said Friday.

"And like I said, it's a tough schedule so we have to be ready. The opener's tough [at Denver] and a lot of national exposure just starting off the season. So it's going to be a great year and we'll just take them a game at a time."

--For Irsay, though, the motto remains Super Bowl or Bust.

"Well I really think we have the mind set to win a championship and that this group isn't afraid to shy down from the lofty goal that that is. And I think you have to take it a game at a time," he explained.

"But some of the guys that we've brought in, [defensive tackle] Art Jones, [inside linebacker] D'Qwell Jackson, they bring veteran leadership, they bring a real desire to get it done. And with the group we have here and with Andrew really being seasoned now and doing such amazing things in only two years, everyone understands the expectations."

--The Colts have been careful with several players who came into training camp with various injuries. Running back Trent Richardson, safety LaRon Landry and cornerbacker Vontae Davis are among the guys that Chuck Pagano and his medical staff have been holding out of practices.

"We're not going to push these guys. We've seen guys go down and we're always going to err on the side of caution, you know that," the Indianapolis head coach said. "But they're doing better and they're getting really close and hopefully they'll be back sooner than later."

--Go hard in practice in full pads or take a lighter tone to the workouts? Pagani has opted for lighter through the first week of training camp practices.

"I think it would be foolish on our part not to be proactive like we were in the off season and do a lot of research. Our trainers, our strength staff, we went to work and we looked at the last two seasons. We looked at 2012, the guys that we placed on [injured reserve]," he said.

"We looked at all the guys last year, tried to find common threads, common themes and do everything that we can within our power, again, be proactive so that certainly we don't place 17 guys on IR again."

--Offensive coordinator Pep Hamilton wants to get as many involved in the Colts offense as possible this coming season. Tempo will be the key. Indianapolis may use a quicker tempo in 2014.

"It's starting to become a trend. We were able to change up our tempos last season. By the end of the year, we felt like the up-tempo offense gave us a heck of an opportunity to feature our play-makers, as well as wear the opponent down," Hamilton explained.

"When we start game-planning our opponents, we'll find ways to put our guys in a position to make plays. We're not certain it will be one specific tempo at this point."

BATTLE OF THE WEEK: Offensive guard. Both the right and left offensive guard positions are up for grabs. Donald Thomas began the 2013 season at left guard but missed most of the season with quad and biceps injuries. Hugh Thornton stepped in and took over Thomas' spot. Thomas, though, is now healthy. The Colts also drafted former Ohio State offensive lineman Jack Mewhort, who is expected to push for a starting job. Former Chicago Bears starter Lance Louis is also in the mix.

STRATEGY AND PERSONNEL

PLAYER NOTES

--G Donald Thomas suffered a lower body injury during Wednesday's practice. He will undergo an MRI Wednesday night. Thomas was returning to the Colts lineup after missing the final 14 games last year with a torn quad and a torn biceps. If his most recent injury sidelines him indefinitely, rookie G Jack Mewhort would be the top candidate to replace him.

--WR TY Hilton incurred a jammed finger on his right hand during Wednesday afternoon's practice. The injury was not initially considered to be serious. He was hurt batting CB Greg Toler on a pass.

--OLB Bjoern Werner's performance through the first week of training camp has raised eyebrows and in a good way. Werner is expected to see more playing time this season, especially early in the year when OLB Robert Mathis is serving an NFL-mandated four-game suspension.

Werner has played well in training camp, using his big body to tip passes at the line of scrimmage and force turnovers. He is still improving in his pass coverage drops, not where he wants to be but markedly better than he was as a rookie last season.

--S Sergio Brown has gotten much more practice time through the first week of training camp that he may have anticipated.

With starter LaRon Landry sitting out with an undisclosed lower body injury, Brown has been teaming with Delano Howell as the first-team safeties. He recorded an interception against quarterback Andrew Luck during a late week practice.

--QB Andrew Luck's training camp has gone well. He completed 13 passes in a row during one practice session and had four touchdown throws on the day. But even on a rare off-day, he still threw three TDs. But Luck, as always, is usually his own worst critic.

"The defense makes you pay when you make bad decisions, I found that out quickly in the NFL," Luck said. "You learn from the mistakes and you don't want to repeat them in a game."

--Outside observers have wondered how veteran WR Reggie Wayne will do after missing the second-half of last season with a torn ACL in his right knee. Wayne is 35 and will soon be 36. Can an aging receiver coming off a serious knee injury get back to the form he has displayed for the last several seasons?

Well if the first week of training camp is any indication, the answer is a resounding yes. Of course, it's still early and there's a lot of time between the regular season gets underway. But Wayne has performed well in camp, albeit in a limited capacity. He has experienced some soreness in his knee but has not missed a practice session.

--RB Trent Richardson has seen limited practice time through the first week of training camp. Richardson has been nursing a hamstring issue, an injury that he initially experienced prior to the start of camp.

Head coach Chuck Pagano is hopeful that the former No. 1 draft pick will be able to get back into practice prior to the Colts' pre-season opener with the New York Jets.

--S LaRon Landry has not been able to fully participate in the first week of training camp. Landry has been sidelined with what has been described as a "soft-tissue injury." He also didn't take part in OTAs or the mandatory spring mini-camp.

Landry is the Colts' lone returning starter at safety. It's hoped that he will be cleared to return to practice relatively soon.

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