Football is almost back in Indy

Authored by Stew Blake on Jul 10, 2013
Football is almost back in Indy

Believe it or not, but the official debut of the 2013-14 NFL season is less than ten weeks away.
Starting on July 27th, the Colts will report to training camp at Anderson University for the fourth straight year with 15 scheduled open practices on the schedule. If you’ve never been to an open practice, I highly, highly, highly recommend that you try to make it out to one this year.
Film study and reading analysis is one thing, but there’s nothing more raw and informational than seeing the guys, rookies and vets, at the office just grinding away. And if you’re interested in camp battles, like me, you’ll get to see guys fighting for a job and witness their improvement practice by practice—or for some, their regression.
I know this may seem like a commercial to go visit Colts City and buy some new Colts gear, but trust me, it isn’t. From one fan to another, this week’s column will serve as a friendly reminder that there’s almost nothing better about football than, yes, training camp.
Will Ahmad Bradshaw, who is expected to be ready by July 27th, come in and drop jaws? Will fan favorite Vick Ballard outshine the ring studded veteran and force Coach Pagano and crew to give him the keys?
It’s almost like reality television, but so much better—it is the reality of the NFL!
Every year, there are guys that come into training camp as fresh meat, but leave as an important cog in the machine that is an NFL team.
Remember Russell Wilson? He was projected by many to be holding the clipboard behind Tavaris Jackson and Matt Flynn. However, fast forward to Week One and he was the starter of a team that would ultimately miss the AFC Championship by inches.
And what made Wilson’s odds-defying journey possible? If you guessed training camp, you’re a genius.
When Ryan Grigson’s first draft class entered training camp last year, Andrew Luck was the only guy who was guaranteed to come in and be the starter from day one. Yet, as the season progressed, we learned that the designation of being a “starter” doesn’t protect you. Ever.
After injuries and multiple shining performances (we all remember “The Flip”), Ballard would ultimately supplant Donald Brown in the Colts backfield.
T.Y. Hilton, a third round pick from Florida International, crept up on the NFL largely thanks to a Bruce Arians’ offense that loved doing one thing: utilizing speed. Hilton was slated to be a special teams maven that could maybe snag 20-30 catches, but by the end of the 2013 campaign, Hilton racked up 50 catches (90 targets), 861 yards and seven touchdowns.
Not too bad for an undersized third-rounder, huh?
Getting ahead of the learning curve is how rookies can quickly make their mark in the NFL. If they can grab a playbook and step inside of the game, mentally, the wear and tear of the NFL becomes something that is just part of the job.
For Ballard, Hilton and the now-infamous Russell Wilson, training camp is where their incredibly successful rookie seasons came to fruition.
Who will be next?
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