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Pagano pleased with Colts' early progress at minicamp
With minicamp now behind them, the Indianapolis Colts' coaching staff and players will take some much-needed time off before training camp begins on July 29.
Head coach Chuck Pagano liked what he saw during the team's OTA workouts last month and this week's minicamp practices.
"We had a great offseason program," Pagano was quick to point out during a Thursday morning availability. "Made some headway. We got better every day."
But before allowing his players to scatter around the country, the Colts coach stressed one important point.
"Our message today was that you can't put your playbook down. You can't stop running. You can't stop lifting," Pagano said. "You gotta keep at it."
Despite not having quarterback Andrew Luck available for any of the OTA or minicamp workouts due to his ongoing rehab from shoulder surgery, there is a lot of positivity heading into the 2017 season.
"I think we can be a good football team," Pagano said. "There's something special going on here."
With Luck sidelined, along with several other key players who have injury issues, the Colts' coaching staff was still able to get a lot of work done. Extra attention was paid to the team's rookies and backup players over the last six weeks.
Jack Mewhort, who is expected to start at right guard, also missed the minicamp practices and saw limited work during OTAs. Mewhort ended the 2016 season on injured reserve with a knee injury.
"Just managing his knee issues," said Pagano, who added that the Colts have had the versatile offensive lineman on a pitch count during the offseason.
Running back Frank Gore has also been limited the last six weeks.
Injuries also sidelined players like safety Malik Hooker, the team's first-round draft pick, along with wide receiver T.Y. Hilton, safety Clayton Geathers, defensive end Kendall Langford, defensive tackle Hassan Ridgeway and wide receiver Phillip Dorsett.
Pagano, though, remains upbeat about the upcoming season.
"I love the character of the football team. It's a smart, tough group. A determined group. They're driven," he said.
"We've gotten younger and we've gotten healthier (on the defensive line)."
What's important now is being ready to go when camp commences at the team's headquarters next month.
"Until we get to training camp and we cut it loose and things are live and we get into the preseason and we play some games and things like that, it's really hard to predict (what kind of team the Colts will have)," Pagano said.
"But they all love football and they're all committed to being really good and working at their crafts. So that gives you a chance."