OTAs are a time for teammates to meet the new faces on their team and start to build team chemistry.
The Indianapolis Colts have certainly brought in plenty of new faces.
These new guys have come mostly from free agency and the NFL draft, while a few are undrafted free agents. Some of these undrafted guys won't make a big impact on the team, but a number of big players for the Colts have been undrafted players, including Marcus Pollard and Gary Brackett.
Rookies tend to benefit the most from OTAs, but missing them isn't the end of the world. Andrew Luck missed OTAs last season to graduate from Stanford, and he still turned out alright in 2012. Still, some of these guys will benefit from extra time with the team.
Let's go ahead and take a look at some of the most exciting stories regarding rookies heading into OTAs.
Coming out of the Canadian Football League, Jerrell Freeman was a big success for the Colts last season. He was the team's leading tackler and came out with a bang in Week 1, intercepting Jay Cutler for a touchdown.
Now, it looks like Grigson is trying his luck in the CFL once again, according to The Herald Bulletin's George Bremer:
#Colts GM Ryan Grigson has dipped back into the CFL and the arena league and signed outside linebacker Caesar Rayford today.— George Bremer (@gmbremer) May 23, 2013
What makes Caesar Rayford such an exciting player? He's 6'7'' and 267 pounds.
Rayford was an exciting pass-rusher and an impressive kick-blocker in the CFL. The Colts are hoping he can make the transition and become a force in the NFL.
Being as tall as he is, it seems strange to see him as a pass-rusher, but it's pretty easy to see him on special teams trying to block kicks.
Regardless of where he plays, he will be a fun guy to watch in the coming months.
The Colts brought in a few names in the secondary, including Sheldon Price from UCLA, Daxton Swanson from Sam Houston State and Nigel Malone from Kansas State.
While Malone is now gone, Price and Swanson are still with the team. With the defensive secondary a little shaky in 2012, can either make the final roster?
Apparently both players looked good during minicamp, and both have a real shot to take up a spot on the final roster.
Per George Bremer of The Herald Bulletin:
One more defensive highlight, CB Daxton Swanson made a nice play to take a TD away from Brazill in the back of the end zone. #Colts
— George Bremer (@gmbremer) May 22, 2013
Despite being undrafted free agents, both players have seemed to impress the fans and media. It's always fun to root for the little guy, and fans will be looking to see if one or both of these guys can make the final roster.
The Colts have now had back-to-back Mr. Irrelevant picks, and this year's pick is looking to make a spot on the roster.
Before the start of rookie minicamp, the scouting reports on Justice Cunningham suggested that he was an excellent blocker but struggled making plays in the passing game. On film, this was certainly the case, as he felt like more of a third offensive tackle than a tight end.
Rookie minicamp seemed to change that mentality.
According to Tom James of the Tribune Star, plenty of people, including the coaches, were impressed by Cunningham's blocking ability and with his presence in the passing game:
TE justice Cunningham showing he has some pretty good hands as a receiver. Just hauled in a long pass from Belton on crossing pattern.— Tom James (@TribStarTJames) May 10, 2013
With Dwayne Allen and Coby Fleener already on the roster, Cunningham is looking to find his own spot on the roster.
The Colts haven't had an impact returner in some time. Deji Karim was able to take one to the house last season, but he is no longer with the team.
Williams was taken in the seventh round by Indianapolis, likely because of his impressive speed. He's only 5'8'', but he was an explosive player at Utah State and showed off his speed by running the 40-yard dash in 4.48 seconds.
Out of the backfield, Williams didn't explode off of the snap in college. It take him a while to build up speed, but that's what helps him as a returner.
While his skill set doesn't exactly make him a top-tier running back prospect, his speed and background as a kick returner could make him a useful option on special teams.
Look out for special teams practices during OTAs and training camp for the Colts. Chances are you will see Williams take one or a few to the house.
After it seemed like Werner might miss OTAs due to not having signed a contract, it appears that that is no longer a concern, according to Colts beat writer Mike Chappell:
#colts Bjoern Werner expected to get 4-yr, $7.8 mill deal with $4.1 mill SB. Should count approx. $1.4 mill vs. cap.— Mike Chappell (@mchappell51) May 22, 2013
Now that Werner is working out, he is getting more comfortable with the defense. There are high expectations for the pass-rushing outside linebacker.
The question is whether Werner will be a backup to both Erik Walden and Robert Mathis or whether he can take Walden's job as the edge-setter for the defense.
What isn't in question is whether Werner will play.
Werner was a talented pass-rusher at Florida State, and he has a lot of skills that should translate to the NFL. The Colts will make sure he gets plenty of snaps during the season, as they need all the help they can get at getting to the quarterback.
OTAs will be a good indication of what the team intends to do with Werner. We will be keeping a close eye on him in the coming weeks.