INDIANAPOLIS – Dwayne Allen walked into the Colts locker room Wednesday wearing his favorite blue-and-white T-shirt that read: Here Come The Horses.
It’s a message that is far more believable this April than it was last spring, and it’s a notice to the rest of the league that the Colts are out to prove 2012 was no fluke.
Like every team out there, we would love to win a championship, second-year quarterback Andrew Luck said after the third day of offseason workouts. As far as outside expectations, I don’t think anybody listens to them anyway in the locker room.
Luck and his fellow second-year teammates were actually around Monday when players reported for the start of offseason workouts, 10 days before this year’s draft. They were there again Wednesday when players spoke to reporters for the first time since the day after the playoff loss at Baltimore. And they will be there again from now through mid-June when the mandatory veteran mini-camp is held.
But getting the young guys in for a full offseason isn’t the only change in Indianapolis.
Luck, for instance, can now focus squarely on football rather than flying around the country for draft week and workouts, then shuttling back to Stanford to finish classes.
It makes a world of difference because I’m much more comfortable, Luck said. I’m not saying that comfortable is always a good thing. Sometimes it’s good to be uncomfortable because it forces you to get better. But having familiarity with everything from where the meeting rooms are to where the coaches rooms are, knowing the guys on the team, I think that’s going to help build continuity. It’s exciting to be back and try to improve on last year.
The Colts wanted to give Luck more protection and believe they have after signing free-agent linemen Gosder Cherilus and Donald Thomas. They also added a new weapon in former first-round pick Darrius Heyward-Bey after losing receiver Donnie Avery in free agency.
Franchise career sacks leader Dwight Freeney has departed and his familiar No. 93 jersey has already been given to free-agent signee Erik Walden. New backup quarterback Matt Hasselbeck has reclaimed his old No. 8 after Chandler Harnish made a half-court shot that cost Hasselbeck $8,000 – which will go to a charity at Norwell, Harnish’s alma mater.
The defense has been overhauled with a handful of free-agent signings, and after next week’s draft, there will be even more new names and faces to learn.
Players insist the changes are all good.
It’s good see all of these new faces come in here, guys who have played in systems like this, guys who have made a name for themselves, guys who are hungry and want to win, defensive end Cory Redding said. We brought that attitude from around the league into this locker room to combine with the attitude we have. We are hungry. We still have a lot of things on the table that we didn’t accomplish last year, so the mindset is simple – get to the top quick.