ANDERSON, Ind. —
The Colts have 39 players with one year or fewer of NFL experience on the roster, and several of those young faces will be looked upon to produce quickly this fall.
“They in for a lot of hard work,” defensive end Cory Redding, signed in March as a free agent from the Baltimore Ravens, said. “It’s a lot of fun going through this process and not knowing what’s going on, you know, a lot of uncertainties. It’s vets like myself, you help them calm down by giving them your pads to carry, giving them your helmet, all that kind of stuff. Making them do some extra stuff. That’s what calms them down. It’s training camp. You’ve got to have fun with them.”
So will those rules apply even to Luck, the top choice in April’s NFL draft and the 22-year-old charged with replacing four-time NFL MVP Peyton Manning as the leader of the offense?
“He can’t get off the hook just because he’s a rookie,” Redding said.
“It’s all about having fun and team chemistry and building and all those kinds of things. So it’s all good.”
In reality, the youngsters will be doing much more than carrying pads.
Rookies, or second-year players, could factor into the lineup along the offensive line, in the offensive and defensive backfields and at defensive end.
There are a number of jobs to be filled and plenty of fresh faces ready for the opportunity to take them.
It reminds more than one observer of 1998, when Manning was a rookie and Indianapolis was fighting back from a 3-13 season.
But quarterbacks coach Clyde Christensen draws parallels from much more recent memories.
“Probably the last time I felt like this was when I (was the receivers coach in 2009), and we had Pierre (Garcon) and Austin (Collie) and we needed a couple of young guys to come through,” Christensen said. “It feels kind of that same way. They’ve done some work. They’ve got some talent. Now, can they go do it when the lights are on and the stakes are a little bit higher?”