From all who spoke in the media frenzy that awaited the arrival of Indianapolis Colts players and coaches on Saturday morning, there was advice for rookies.
Some of it even came from players who just a year ago were in a position to be receiving such advice.
Second-year tight end Coby Fleener said, “Take it one day at a time. Don’t look too far ahead and definitely don’t start worrying about your job. If you try to learn as much as you can, in the end, it will all work out.”
Offensive line coach Joe Gilbert offered, "My message to them is come in, compete, don’t say a lot. They’ll fit in fine. That’s what they’ve been doing.”
Veteran Antoine Bethea spoke in depth about the new players, both rookies and veterans and the need for them to understand the concept behind the catchphrase "Colts Strong."
"That’s really important for those guys to know what our culture is that we have here" said Bethea. "It’s a winning culture. Everybody wants to be a part of a winning culture. The guys that Chuck Pagano and Mr. Grigson brought in, I think they all have bought in. At the end of the day, it’s going to take time as well. But I think everybody’s buying into the system, and we’ll be fine.”
Third-year tackle Anthony Castonzo recalls that things can be distracting even in a closed and protected environment like Anderson University.
“My only advice will be don’t get so caught up in the other stuff other than football because there are so many things going on around campus, you got to be here on time, you got to be there on time, just make sure that you have everything else under control so that when you get on the football field your head is not spinning,” said Castonzo.
Some of what the rookies need to do is physical and some of that is mental. Defensive end Cory Redding provided some strong words about both of those aspects.
“Listen. Work Hard. Do what we tell you to do," said the 11-year veteran who is in his second year with Indy. "Do what the coaches tell you to do. And just come in and just produce. That’s what we need. We need guys to come in and not really want to take their first year as a learning curve and to sit back. You got to come in and go. We need production. We’re here for a reason and we need everybody, all hands on deck, in order to get where we want to go. Everybody pretty much knows where we want to be so we just got to stay focused and get there. So that’s what we need out of the rookies. Come in and get ready to go to work.”
Colts fans would also provide some encouragement to the rookies because injuries are part of the game, and some of these young players may need to step in at some crucial parts of the season.
Cornerback Greg Toler, in his first season with the Colts, offered, “You got to tell rookies to come in and work hard. It’s just run off of OTAs and minicamp, training camp just gets a little bit harder. Guys are clawing and nailing, just competing. It’s football still so just take it one day at a time.”
It was great to see my friends in the media in the gathering Saturday. I colored the fingers of both hands with blue ink just to show my support. The three-week journey has begun.