ANDERSON, Ind. – The next few weeks figure to test Henry Anderson’s patience while the Indianapolis Colts’ second-year defensive tackle tests his surgically-repaired right knee.
While the team went through its first training camp workout at Anderson University Wednesday afternoon, Anderson looked on. At one point he watched from an end zone, stretching his arms, flexing his knee.
“Yeah, my knee feels awesome,’’ said Anderson, who opened camp on the physically unable to perform list. “I don’t think it could really feel any better than it does right now. It’s just, I did have a pretty fairly major surgery so I know that they want to make sure it’s 100 percent healed before they throw me out there. I’m sure they would rather have me out there at 100 percent than 85-90 percent and I think that’s the smart thing to do.
“We’ve got a good plan.’’
Owner Jim Irsay recently indicated Anderson might not be ready for the Colts’ Sept. 11 regular-season opener against Detroit.
Coach Chuck Pagano seemed to reinforce that Wednesday.
“It’s a wait-and-see thing,’’ he said. “I don’t know if that will be the case.’’
Anderson, a third-round draft pick a year ago, was in the midst of a stellar rookie season when he tore his right ACL against Denver Nov. 8. Not surprisingly, the team will be cautious with his return.
“I feel like I’m on pace,’’ he said. “There wasn’t really a specific, ‘Okay, you’re going to return on this date.’ It’s more like, ‘See how it feels.’
“I know ACLs are anywhere from 6-to-12 months and I know for some bigger dudes it could take a little bit longer since you are carrying around more weight and stuff like that.’’
The next progression in Anderson’s rehab is to return to practice, then have his repetitions gradually increase. Once he’s cleared to play, he must regain full confidence in his knee.
“It’s obviously hard to simulate what it’s going to feel like in a game,’’ Anderson said. “So first week or two when I’m out there – it’s probably going to be longer than that – it’s definitely going to take a little getting used to.
“I know bodies are going to be falling around and I’m going to want to protect my knee a little bit. It’s definitely going to be a mental thing when I first get back out there.’’
Pagano is notorious for sending his team into a new season with a new message. He declined to share that with the media Wednesday.
“Just get better,’’ he said. “I’m not going to divulge everything. That is privileged information.’’
However, the team is sporting information T-shirts. The message: Humble & Hungry.
Chuck Pagano and GM Ryan Grigson "joined at the hip" moving forward. Both appear "Humble & Hungry" at Colts Camp. pic.twitter.com/NrxLHTiGHe
— Chris Hagan (@ChrisHaganIndy) July 27, 2016
That might be a counter message to a year ago when the Colts – ownership, management, players – openly talked about challenging for the Super Bowl. They finished 8-8 and failed to reach the playoffs for the first time since 2011.
Wednesday’s practice unfolded with temperatures in the upper 80s, and it took a toll. Five players were unable to finish practice, and at least four of them were for heat-related reasons.
— Mike Berman (@MikeBermanNBC) July 27, 2016
Running back Josh Ferguson, safety Winston Guy, defensive end Sterling Bailey and offensive tackle Le’Raven Clark retired to the trainer’s tent with apparent heat issues. Rookie safety T.J. Green limped to the tent and at one point had an ice wrap on his lower left leg.
Offensive line update
The offensive line figures to be the most scrutinized area moving forward, most notably right guard. Hugh Thornton opened practice with the starting unit, but eventually shared reps with Jon Harrison and Denzelle Good.