The Herald Bulletin

June 5, 2013

Colts Notebook: Young WRs making strides

By George Bremer
The Herald Bulletin

---- — INDIANAPOLIS — Late in Wednesday afternoon's practice, Andrew Luck threw a red-zone pass just over the outstretched hands of a linebacker and into the arms of second-year wide receiver LaVon Brazill.

There was a moment's pause before the official raised his arms to signal Brazill got both feet inbounds for a touchdown. Then his offensive teammates rushed into the back corner of the end zone to celebrate with him.

Brazill added a diving catch at the back of the end zone later in the session, completing a solid afternoon of work.

It's a welcome sight for the Indianapolis Colts, who need to see progress from a young receiving corps as they attempt to build on an 11-5 playoff season.

T.Y. Hilton, who got a day of rest Wednesday and watched practice from the sideline, made a big impact as a rookie with 50 catches for 861 yards and seven scores. He, veteran Reggie Wayne and free agent addition Darrius Heyward-Bey figure to be the team's receiving leaders this fall.

But Indianapolis also will need production from at least one — and likely two — players out of a group including Brazill, Griff Whalen, Nathan Palmer and Jabin Sambrano, among others.

"They are going to be a big, big part of this offense," Luck said of the young receivers. "They were a big part last year. They caught a lot of balls, a lot of big balls. For us to be productive, we are going to have to have every man on the offensive side of the ball contribute."

Palmer reportedly has enjoyed a solid offseason with one organized team activity remaining today before next week's mandatory mini-camp. And Sambrano and undrafted free agent Lanear Sampson each made attention-grabbing touchdown catches Wednesday.

The competition is sure to continue through training camp this summer at Anderson University, and Luck said the team is getting better every day.

"We are nowhere near perfect," he said. "I hope we wouldn't be perfect right now, but we realize that we still got a lot of work to do, and we are glad. We're thankful for these OTAs, the mini-camp, the time off and then training camp."

ROOKIE FINDING HIS NICHE: First-round draft pick Bjoern Werner was surprised to learn a few of his teammates — including Luck — can speak his native German.

"Sometimes we just walk around and speak a little German, and people are just looking at us," the former Florida State star said. "They get mad, 'This is America.'"

Werner hasn't yet signed his contract, but he's been a regular at offseason workouts. With newlywed Robert Mathis absent during OTAs, the outside linebacker has received an increased volume of work.

On Wednesday, he showed off some of what he's learned by batting away a pass in the end zone. And he's looking forward to next week's mini-camp, particularly next Wednesday's open practice at Lucas Oil Stadium.

"It's awesome," he said. "It's the first time in the stadium so I can't wait just to be in there. It's the first time fans can see me practice, pretty pumped up."

MISSING IN ACTION: Free agent safety LaRon Landry led a list of players who were absent for Wednesday's workout.

Among the others not in attendance were Mathis — who was married on Saturday — and cornerback Sheldon Price — who is finishing up his academic work at UCLA. Others who didn't make it out to the practice field include running back Delone Carter, safety Joe Lefeged, guard Ben Ijalana and nose tackle Brandon McKinney.

Hilton, Heyward-Bey, rookie safety John Boyett, linebacker Pat Angerer, defensive tackle Kellen Heard and defensive end Fili Moala were present for all or part of practice but did not participate.

The Colts will hold their 10th and final OTA on Thursday.

SPLIT DECISION: Wide receiver Reggie Wayne, who maintains an offseason home in south Florida and attended the University of Miami, had torn loyalties during the recently completed NBA Eastern Conference finals between the Indiana Pacers and Miami Heat.

But the veteran found a satisfactory solution.

"Sit at halfcourt, sit right there in the middle and enjoy the game," Wayne said. "That's it. I just wanted to see a good game, and that's what I did. I saw seven of them."

The Pacers, of course, lost in seven games to the defending NBA champions. But Wayne said the basketball team did his adopted home city proud.

"Man, you all did a great job," he said, sending a "shout out" to the Pacers. "You all saluted the city, did a great job representing. I'm proud of you guys."