INDIANAPOLIS – Shane Steichen, meet your football Colts football team.
That has been what this week is all about for Steichen and the Colts beginning their offseason program.
A reminder on how the offseason program works can be found here.
The Colts will be in Phase One next week, too, which focuses mainly on strength and conditioning. They’ll progress to some on-field activities in Phase Two starting April 24, with the ability to hold an early minicamp due to the fact they have a first-year head coach.
Attendance for the Colts offseason program is high, which was expected after a 4-12-1 season and the presence of a new head coach.
What did we learn from Steichen and some Colts players on Monday?
- For those that have paid attention, it’s pretty clear any supposed Colts interest in Lamar Jackson has started to wane. Shane Steichen’s comments on Wednesday did nothing to indicate anything else. “We are focused on the draft and I’m focused on the players that are in the building,” Steichen said on Wednesday when asked about Jackson and the Colts plan at quarterback. It’s been a very busy month of April already for Steichen and the Colts on the QB front. They were around the country last week working QB prospects out, and will welcome several of the top-QBs to their building this week and to complete the draft profiles on the most important decision this franchise has faced in decades.
- What were the early impressions from Colts players on Shane Steichen’s first team meeting. “Has a lot of juice,” is how Michael Pittman described Steichen on Wednesday. Pittman pointed out how you look around the NFL and the trend of young offensive coaches leading so many of the highest-scoring teams. The more you hear Steichen talk, the more it’s becoming clearer and clear that this guy is going to be a concise and direct communicator. There are no wasted words when Steichen takes the mic.
- This is Year 8 for DeForest Buckner and he’s seen a rebuild before. That took place early in his career with San Francisco (and it worked). Buckner hates the word ‘rebuild’ but he also realizes how things look on paper right now in Indianapolis. When asked about Stephon Gilmore being traded to Dallas this offseason, Buckner said that’s something he might have explored if this was his 12th season in the league (like Gilmore) compared to the 8th for Buckner. Again, while Buckner didn’t say this directly, it’s very possible Gilmore wanted to be in a different situation (trade request?).
- On the trade front, Buckner had to laugh when hearing his name floated around on the rumor mill this offseason. Buckner was adamant that his name was never affiliated with trades (by the Colts calling around or Buckner requesting something). Buckner said he woke up one morning this offseason and had buddies from a couple of other teams texting him if the rumors were true about possibly being out in Indy. Buckner, 29, is under contract through 2024.
- Remember the Barry Bonds/J.J. Watt elbow brace/pad DeForest Buckner played with last season? It was for a torn UCL in Buckner’s elbow. That is a popular ligament you hear associated with Tommy John surgeries for pitchers, and even quarterbacks. Because Buckner isn’t an athlete needed to throw a ball, Buckner said surgery was not necessary this offseason.
- Part of what this offseason will be about for Michael Pittman is a second contract watch. Pittman is heading into the final year of his rookie deal. The former 2nd round pick said he will let the contract talks “happen naturally” and doesn’t have this as a goal for the offseason. ”That happens naturally with performance,” Pittman said of his contract extension. “If it doesn’t happen, that’s no big deal. It’ll happen eventually. I just leave it to my agent.” Pittman said there might have been some early talks about an extension, but he wants to stay far away from those “ugly” things. This will be an interesting storyline to watch.
- The biggest medical question this spring for the Colts is with Shaquille Leonard recovering from his 2nd back surgery in the last year (Leonard had his first surgery last June and another in November). Shane Steichen said on Wednesday that Leonard has been “progressing well” but there’s no public timetable for No. 53 getting back on the field. Leonard played a total of 74 defensive snaps for the Colts last offseason. The linebacker group lost Bobby Okereke (Giants) in free agency but does bring back E.J. Speed, who was also a free agent.
- Speaking of Leonard, Zaire Franklin met the media on Wednesday. Franklin and Leonard trained in Tampa earlier this offseason, with those days starting around 5:30 AM. While Leonard is understandably taking his time in ramping up rehab, Franklin said his fellow linebacker was “getting after it.” Franklin also expressed plenty of happiness to have E.J. Speed back this season. Franklin lauded the energy Speed brings to the locker room/field.
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