Injured players eager to get to work with Colts - NBC Sports

Injured players eager to get to work with Colts
April 23, 2014, 8:19 pm

INDIANAPOLIS (AP) Dwayne Allen spent months envisioning the day he could get back to work for the Colts on the practice field.

The starting tight end never really thought it would turn out quite this way.

When Allen was cleared to participate in Indianapolis' offseason workouts earlier this week, he was advised by team doctors to be cautious - something that really isn't part of Allen's DNA.

"I feel good," Allen said Wednesday, the first day players were available to reporters. "I was able to run around today and I'm really able to do whatever I want, so it's up to me."

Allen, who went down with a season-ending hip injury in September, finds himself surrounded by teammates facing similar situations.

Pro Bowl receiver Reggie Wayne says he's feeling good about his recovery from a torn ACL in his right knee, though doctors have instructed him to wait until training camp to give it a full go. Running back Vick Ballard, who tore ACL in his right knee in September, and his replacement Ahmad Bradshaw, who had two vertebrae fused together in his neck last October, are being monitored closely, too. Starting guard Donald Thomas, who had season-ending surgery for a torn quad in his right leg in September, is still trying to finish his nine-month recovery.

Even free-agent signee Hakeem Nicks said he's feeling healthy.

And that has Andrew Luck thinking about what Indy's offense could look like - if everybody is healthy.

"You've got to get that rhythm and timing down," Luck said. "One thing I've learned is that timing is everything in this league and when you feel it, it makes things a little more simple."

For Luck, it's not just about working with the receivers or getting some injured players back in the mix.

He'll be working with a new center, too.

Indy released two-year starter Samson Satele in a cost-cutting move and let backup, Mike McGlynn, leave in free agency. Then they signed former Cowboys starter Phil Costa in free agency, only to lose Costa to a surprise retirement Monday. Coach Chuck Pagano and general manager were not available Wednesday to discuss Costa's decision, though Grigson issued a statement saying they understood.

Those moves give Khaled Holmes, a fourth-round draft pick in 2013, the inside track to the starting job and Luck one more wrinkle to work out before camp opens in late July.

"You forget how many reps you end up taking with the center just in practice and everything," Luck said. "We obviously don't have that great of an amount of reps so it will be very important during this workout OTA season to get all those reps with Khaled and whoever else is going to be snapping the ball."

The players returning injuries have other tasks to accomplish this summer.

Nicks hopes to show that last year's no-touchdown season was an aberration.

Bradshaw is trying to prove that with a healthy neck, he can return to his old, bulldozing style, too.

"They fused the bones - C3 and C4," Bradshaw said. "It's actually two vertebraes working together and I think it makes it stronger and they (the doctors) do, too. Like I say, everything's coming along and getting stronger. I'm starting to touch the field and run a lot more. It's all upside for me."

Wayne is out to prove those who think a 34-year-old receiver can't return to his prior form after a serious knee injury are misguided.

Ballard said he's eager to show he's back, too, though he's not trying to break any records.

And then there's Allen, the versatile tight end who spent the offseason bulking up and can't wait to show everyone how good the Colts' offense can be.

"On paper, we look great. I'm very excited," Allen said. "I'm really eager to get us all out and together and moving around to see how well we mesh together and see what different combinations the coaches come up with to put on the field."

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