By George Bremer
The Herald Bulletin
---- — It hasn’t been a good offseason for the Indianapolis Colts. One player was arrested, two others were suspended by the league and a fourth was ordered to pay restitution to a man he allegedly punched during an incident in college.
So the franchise is probably as anxious to get training camp started this weekend in Anderson as the fans are to welcome their favorite team.
The good news is the wait is almost over.
Rookies can begin reporting to the team’s training complex in Indianapolis today, and the Colts will hold a three-day rookie mini-camp beginning Wednesday. On Saturday, the full team reports for training camp at Anderson University, and the first of 15 public practices is Sunday.
Top draft pick Bjoern Werner remains unsigned, but with little room for negotiations in the new collective bargaining agreement he’s likely to be on board by the weekend. The other mystery surrounds pass rusher Josh McNary.
The former Army standout signed as a free agent in April but is still completing his military commitment. The Colts obviously take a back seat to the Army lieutenant’s current day job, but if he is discharged in time for camp he could compete for a role as an outside linebacker.
The other 88 players currently on Indianapolis’ roster should be ready to go. That includes wide receiver LaVon Brazill and tight end Weslye Saunders, who will start the season with four- and eight-game suspensions, respectively, after running afoul of the NFL’s drug policies.
Safety Joe Lefeged also could miss some playing time pending the outcome of his arrest on gun and drug charges in Washington, D.C., but no discipline has yet been announced by the league.
Running back Delone Carter — who was ordered to pay damages to a man he allegedly punched while a student at Syracuse in 2010 — also could be in a roster battle. But his situation is complicated more by the addition of veteran Ahmad Bradshaw than by a three-year-old misstep.
That running back competition promises to be one of training camp’s most intriguing, with Vick Ballard and Donald Brown also in the mix.
Position battles also figure to take place at right guard, nose tackle and inside linebacker. There also will be a scramble for the fourth wide receiver slot (with Griff Whalen and Nathan Palmer among the chief contenders against Brazill) and the third tight end (with Dominique Jones and rookie Justice Cunningham challenging Saunders).
But, as much as anything, this camp figures to be about setting a tone.
The offense must come together in its new scheme under coordinator Pep Hamilton. And the defense must integrate as many as six new starters into the fold.
The good news is, from here on out, the headlines should be limited to on-the-field activity.
Because by the time Sunday morning rolls around, it will officially be football season again in Indiana.