By George Bremer
The Herald Bulletin
---- — ANDERSON — The Indianapolis Colts opened a three-day rookie mini-camp at the Indiana Farm Bureau Football Center on Wednesday with the news first-round pick Bjoern Werner has agreed to terms on a four-year contract.
Once the deal is signed, Werner can resume practicing with the team. And the agreement assures the enthusiastic German from Florida State will partake in the full training camp.
Werner was the last of Indianapolis' seven draft picks to reach a contract agreement. The Colts report to Anderson University on Saturday, and the first practice is scheduled for Sunday.
Werner made it clear during mini-camp in June that he plans to take advantage of every opportunity to get on the field.
"I remember the first day (of practice), I'll never forget that," he said. "It's a big step. And then I see there's so much more to come, and then I am going to get excited and I can't wait just to get more practice, more practice."
Werner was a defensive end in Florida State's 4-3 defense, but he'll be asked to play outside linebacker in the Colts' 3-4 scheme. The transition went well in its early stages this spring, but training camp marks the next step in the evolution.
Indianapolis head coach Chuck Pagano said Werner's work ethic and intelligence will aid him as the process moves on.
"He's a very, very bright guy," Pagano said in June. "The transition from playing down all those years with his hand in the dirt and playing on the left side, he came in here and he's playing in a two-point (stance). We're asking a lot of him from a mental standpoint, and he just picks it up. He's a natural."
The Colts might need Werner to get on the fast track.
Fellow outside linebacker Robert Mathis is the only proven pass rusher on the roster, and free-agent addition Erik Walden was brought in more for his ability in run defense to set the edge on the opposite side.
Werner is at the head of a fairly large group of relative unknowns that will be asked to get after the quarterback. If he's losing any sleep as a result, however, he's hiding it well.
"There's so many superstars on this team, playmakers, and I can just come in and learn from them," he said in June. "There's no pressure like, 'Oh, you have to come in, you have to be the starter, you have to do this, you have to be the Defensive Player of the Year, blah, blah, blah.' It's just coming in, learning from Cory (Redding), from Robert. There's so much leadership on the defense. I can learn a lot."