WESTFIELD — Andrew Luck will participate in Thursday’s opening practice as the Indianapolis Colts kick off their second straight training camp at Grand Park.
But the 29-year-old quarterback likely won’t see his normal workload.
After injuries depleted the depth at several positions — notably offensive tackle and wide receiver — last summer, the franchise looked for ways to avoid a similar fate this year.
What the team — and the NFL — found is the first week of camp is the most dangerous in terms of injuries. That’s especially true for players with extra-long layoffs who did not participate in spring drills.
Luck sat out the entire on-field portion of the offseason program while recovering from a calf strain. So he will be eased back into practice this summer.
Others who saw little or no reps this spring including wide receiver Deon Cain, safety Clayton Geathers, defensive lineman Carroll Phillips and tight end Ross Travis also will see limited participation.
“They’re gonna practice, but we’re gonna work ’em back in,” general manager Chris Ballard said. “One of the things that the league has found and we’ve found is that this first seven-to-10 days is almost (an) acclimation period. If you haven’t been practicing, getting back into this thing, we’re gonna be smart. We’re not gonna just rush guys back in.”
The Colts learned some lessons the hard way last year.
Left tackle Anthony Castonzo started camp on the physically unable to perform (PUP) list after injuring his hamstring during offseason workouts. He returned during a full-padded practice and aggravated the injury.
The setback ultimately cost Indianapolis its blind-side pass protector for the first five games of the regular season and undoubtedly contributed to a 1-5 start.
Luck, of course, missed the entire 2017 season while rehabbing from right shoulder surgery. He later attributed part of that absence to doing too much too soon in the recovery process.
Ballard is determined not to repeat such mistakes.
“If we’ve learned anything, when I walked in the door (in 2017) through the first injury (Luck) had, let’s just make sure we’re taking the right steps,” he said. “We’re getting ready to play the (Los Angeles) Chargers (on Sept. 8). That’s where our mindset is right now. So (we're) making sure we’re taking all of the right steps with all of these guys.”
Rookie Ben Banogu spent time in Westfield earlier than several of his teammates.
The pass-rushing prodigy was a pupil of former Colts Pro Bowler Robert Mathis for a week-and-a-half at the Pro-X Athlete Development facility at Grand Park.
Mathis — who served as a pass-rush consultant on Indianapolis’ coaching staff the past two seasons — gave Banogu personalized instruction, highlighting ways the 23-year-old can use his speed to impact the game.
“It was definitely different,” Banogu said. “He’s a guy that’s great at what he did. He’s gonna be a Hall of Famer, and he’s an awesome dude. So just kind of getting to work with him and understanding why he did certain things and how he can implement certain moves into my game was something that I was appreciative about, and I’m hoping that it’s a pretty good transition going from that into the season.”
Colts Productions is set to unveil a new web series chronicling training camp from an insider’s view.
“Behind the Colts: 2019 Training Camp” debuts Saturday at Colts.com and on the team’s official social media sites. The first episode will feature Wednesday's move-in day and Thursday's initial practice.
On the eve of the first practice, Indianapolis signed center Daniel Munyer and running back Aca’Cedric Ware. Defensive end Dadi Nicolas and guard Nico Siragusa were waived to make room on the 90-man roster.
Munyer played in 16 games with one start for the Kansas City Chiefs and Arizona Cardinals from 2015-18. Ware is an undrafted rookie out of USC who participated as a try-out player in the Colts’ rookie mini-camp in May.