Colts make progress before heading home from camp

Andrew Luck may have been the feature attraction at Colts’

training camp this year – until Pat McAfee stole the show

Friday.

With about an hour left in the nearly 3-hour practice, new coach

Chuck Pagano sent McAfee, the punter and backup kicker, in to try a

59-yard field goal that would have sent everyone home early. Fans

roared as they thought it went through the uprights, but it tailed

off to the left.

So Pagano gave McAfee a second chance. He sent him out for a

38-yarder that he made to the delight of fans and the relief of his

teammates eager to leave town.

”It was a good camp for the Indianapolis Colts and a good way

to end it. I’ll see you later,” McAfee said before riding off on a

golf cart and heading home to Indy.

For the Colts (No. 32 in AP Pro32), this was an unusual training

camp. From weather changes to injuries, the implementation of a new

offense and defense and all the new faces, it was barely

recognizable.

While most fans focused their attention on Luck, Pagano had to

keep track of everything else at Anderson University.

”The most important thing is that we laid the foundation,”

Pagano said. ”During the offseason, we talked about what we needed

to do, and everybody came back in great shape. Everybody just

bought in.”

Certainly, there were good signs in Anderson.

Luck was impressive throughout camp, going 319 for 447 with 28

touchdowns and nine interceptions in team drills during camp. He

was even better in live action, going 10 of 16 for 188 yards with

two touchdowns and no interceptions with a quarterback rating of

142.6 in a 38-3 preseason win over St. Louis. His first chance to

show the nation what he can do comes Sunday night at Pittsburgh

(No. 7).

Numbers don’t matter to Pagano.

”I just see the balls spinning out of his hand and getting

caught by the receivers,” Pagano said.

Veteran receivers Reggie Wayne and Austin Collie looked like

themselves and rookies LaVon Brazill, T.Y. Hilton and Dwayne Allen

seemed in sync with Luck, too.

Robert Mathis, a Pro Bowl defensive end, looked comfortable at

his new position, outside linebacker, and former Ravens Cory

Redding and Tom Zbikowski emerged as vocal leaders on a defense

that made a smoother transition from the 4-3 defense the Colts used

for a decade.

”I think we came a long way,” safety Antoine Bethea said.

”It’s a totally different scheme from what most of us have played

in, and there are a lot of different things that you have to

overcome. But I think they’ve done a good job as coaches to put

this scheme in place so we could really hone in on it.”

There were plenty of obstacles, too.

Indy lost offensive tackle Ben Ijalana and linebacker A.J. Edds

on the first day of camp. Both have season-ending knee injuries.

Indy also has lost backup linebacker Scott Lutrus for the season

with a torn anterior cruciate ligament, starting inside linebacker

Pat Angerer for six weeks with a fractured foot and starting

offensive guard Mike McGlynn indefinitely with a sprained left

ankle.

A rare rash of rain in a previously dry summer forced Pagano to

move seven practices, mostly walkthroughs, indoors and the new

coach took his team back to Indy on buses for a full indoor

practice last week. Even Thursday night’s scheduled night practice

was moved up to an afternoon workout because of the threat of

severe storms.

There were visits from former coach Tony Dungy, former

quarterbacks Jeff George and Jim Sorgi, former offensive tackle

Tarik Glenn and Luck’s father, Oliver.

None of it proved to be a distraction.

Luck looked good, showing everyone why the Colts were willing to

part ways with Peyton Manning in March and start a new era.

”We’ve barely even scratched the surface,” Wayne said.

”Camp’s over, but we’re still going on, so we’ve got to continue

to stay in camp mode when we get home and continue to get

better.”

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