By George Bremer
The Herald Bulletin
One of the biggest mysteries surrounding the Indianapolis Colts’ 2013 season is the exact nature offensive coordinator Pep Hamilton’s new scheme.
As the “Andrew Luck Director of Offense” at Stanford last season, Hamilton oversaw a balanced attack that incorporated a power running game and multiple formations with an abundance of pre-snap motion.
Reunited with Luck in Indy, Hamilton said he’s still striving for balance. Though he doesn’t want to put a number or percentage on the running game’s impact in his scheme, Hamilton said he does believe it’s important to run the ball effectively to take some of the pressure off the passing game.
As for more wide-ranging offensive plans, Hamilton remained coy.
“We are going to do everything we can do to feature our playmakers,” he said in the locker room before Saturday’s rookie mini-camp practice. “It’s still early. The one thing I can tell you is Reggie Wayne is going to touch the football. Vick Ballard is going to touch the football. We will get our tight ends involved.
“We are going to allow Andrew Luck to really have a myriad of things at his disposal, but it’s early. Once we get to training camp and we get a chance to practice against a defense, we will have a better sense of what we are.”
If the early rookie camp practices are any indication, the Colts will retain Hamilton’s signature multiple formations. Not everything that’s run in the preseason will stick, of course, but Indianapolis isn’t ruling anything out for now.
The goal, no matter how the Colts line up, is to create conflict in opposing defenses and get the ball into the hands of its stars.
“We are going to have a lot of different ways to run a few basic concepts,” Hamilton said. “That’s a big part of it. We have to have the ability to create matchups, create the matchups that we want. We’ve got to be able to feature our playmakers.”
BJOERN TO RUSH: First-round outside linebacker Bjoern Werner got a paw on a pass during Saturday’s practice, flashing the form that helped him lead the Atlantic Coast Conference in passes batted down last year at Florida State.
But the Colts drafted the German native to sack the quarterback, and that’s one area of the game that can be extremely difficult to evaluate while players still are practicing in shorts.
“Not much,” defensive coordinator Greg Manusky said when asked what he can evaluate about Werner’s rush skills in this weekend’s rookie camp. “We just know his burst off the ball. He uses his hands well, and we’ll see it once the pads come on.
The assumption has been that Werner and free agent addition Erik Walden will compete for playing time opposite returning veteran Robert Mathis. But Manusky said the team will look for ways to get both players on the field at the same time.
“I think you’ve got to try and find a situation where they are both in that situation where we can get them out on the field,” he said. “Two good football players, along with Robert. The more pass rushers you have, the better off you are going to be in a 3-4 defense.”
SPECIAL SPECIAL TEAMS COACH: During his appearance last week on “Not 4 Print,” The Herald Bulletin’s weekly radio show on AM 1240 WHBU, Colts punter Pat McAfee said new special teams coordinator Tom McMahon already is the favorite special teams leader of his five-year NFL career.
That statement carries a lot of weight when one considerers McMahon is the third man to hold the position since McAfee was drafted in 2009.
When the punter’s comments were relayed to McMahon on Saturday, the coach smiled and let out a short laugh.
“I don’t know about that yet,” he said. “We really haven’t had to go into battle yet, but I really like working with all three of those guys (including kicker Adam Vinatieri and long snapper Matt Overton). They are winners, and they approach it the right way. That’s all you can ask. They come to work to work.”
SPEAKING OF SPECIAL TEAMS: McMahon said hidden yardage is one of the keys to victory in the NFL.
He said if one looks at a drive chart following a game, marking the starting position for each teams’ offensive series, it usually will tell the story of the day.
Seventh-round running back Kerwynn Williams likely will play a big role in that hidden yardage. He was among the players returning kickoffs Saturday, and he figures to compete for that role during the regular season.
With his elite speed, Williams was a return ace at Utah State. And he understands the value of strong special teams.
“I definitely think special teams is a big part of how a team does,” Williams said. “Any time you can get a lot of yards on a kickoff return or a punt return and put the offense in good position, that definitely makes it easier to score touchdowns.
“That’s the hidden yardage part that (McMahon) talks about and just being able to start off the offense on the plus-side of the field instead of your side of the 50-yard line.”