ANDERSON, Ind. — The pads came on for the first time during the 2013 training camp on Tuesday afternoon, and the Indianapolis Colts primarily focused on red-zone work in team drills.
The energy that dominated the first two days of training camp seemed more low-key as the players took on more of business approach. Full-padded practices come with a responsibility to play even smarter and make sure teammates are protected.
"What we tell them is that we want to be competitive but not combative," head coach Chuck Pagano said. "We've got to take care of each other. So we don't want to certainly lose anybody just because we've got the pads on. You got to learn how to practice in pads, and we'll stress that big time."
There's another level to the learning curve this season with the NFL mandating that all players must wear thigh and knee pads. In the past players at speed positions, like cornerback and wide receiver, sometimes balked at wearing the pads because they believed it slowed them down.
Second-year wide receiver T.Y. Hilton said he's always worn his full complement of pads, however, and doesn't understand the speed excuse.
"I don't know about that because they aren't slowing me down," he said. "I don't know what guys do, but I wear them to protect me. I don't know why they don't wear them."
Full pads provide a better measuring stick for offensive and defensive linemen because a greater level of contact is allowed. Rookie outside linebacker Bjoern Werner, the team's first-round draft pick, was one player who took advantage with solid work in both team and individual drills.
Safety Antoine Bethea was absent Tuesday, but he had an extremely good excuse. He was attending the birth of his daughter.
Pagano congratulated Bethea and his significant other on the birth and said the baby weighs 5 pounds and measures in at 18 inches. He had less info, though, when it came to a name.
"It begins with an 'S'," Pagano said. "It is a really pretty name, I know that. He told me don't give that out. I probably wasn't supposed to tell anybody he had a baby."
Fleener strong again
Tight end Coby Fleener continued his recent run of success. The second-round pick out of Stanford again was quarterback Andrew Luck's favorite target, catching six passes and one touchdown.
Fleener has 13 receptions with the first team in the past two days, and Pagano said that's just another example of his continued improvement.
"If he keeps practicing the way that he's practicing then he's going to have a great season," Pagano said. "He's a mismatch, you know, he's a handful for these guys."
Rookie center Khaled Holmes was carted off the field early in the afternoon practice. He officially is listed with a right ankle injury, the same ailment that he suffered through during his senior season at Southern California. There was no word on when he might return.
Linebacker Scott Lutrus (knee) and safety Sergio Brown (hamstring) also left Tuesday's practice.
Nose tackle Brandon McKinney, who suffered swelling in his knee earlier this week, was placed on injured reserve for the second consecutive season.