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Colts OTA notebook: Pass rush improved for 2015

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INDIANAPOLIS — Coach Chuck Pagano stressed that the Indianapolis Colts’ goal during OTAs and minicamp is to finish strong and to stay healthy before the start of training camp on Aug. 1.

“You’d like to come in and try to clean up as many things that you need to clean up from the 10 OTAs,” Pagano said. “Just throw everything at them again and see how much has stuck. See how much retention there is and get ready for the offseason.

“You want to end on a great note. Again, we’re going to find out once they come back and we get back together August 1st in Anderson exactly what type of team we’re going to have and what type of team we’re going to be.”

Pagano was asked recently if the Colts have been able to improve the pass rush, which was inconsistent last season with 2013 NFL sack leader Robert Mathis sidelined. Mathis is expected back in 2015, although exactly when is yet to be determined.

“Feel good about it, especially when Rob (Mathis) does get back and having guys like Erik (Walden), who has been productive. You mentioned (Jonathan) Newsome, who had a really fine rookie season,” he said.

“Bringing Trent Cole in obviously is going to help. Kendall Langford, you guys are going to be surprised. You think we just brought in a run stopper, but he’s shown in some of these 11-on-11 drills that he’s got some pass rush capabilities, will get push inside.”

Pagano added that the pass rush did produce 40 sacks during the 2014 season, so the team did have some success at getting pressure on opposing quarterbacks.

“Everybody was worried a year ago how we were going to generate the pass rush without Rob, and we ended up with 40 plus sacks still,” he said. “That’s a credit to (defensive coordinator) Greg Manusky and our defensive staff for getting creative and finding different ways to pressure the quarterback when those opportunities arise.”

Team owner Jim Irsay said several weeks ago that he didn’t expect Mathis back and playing until midseason at the earliest. But Mathis, when asked about his rehab process during a television interview last Sunday, said he will be ready to go for the start of the season.

–Tight end Dwayne Allen is excited to see how offensive coordinator Pep Hamilton is going to put all the pieces together for the Colts in 2015. Added weapons like running back Frank Gore, wide receiver Andre Johnson and rookie wide receiver Phillip Dorsett could make Indianapolis one of the most dangerous offensive attacks in the league.

“Potential is potential,” Allen said. “I sometimes have to catch myself because I do, I get like the fans and oogle over Andre Johnson or Frank Gore. I’m just like, ‘Man, we’re going to kill it this year.’ Then I have to remember that there is a process and that process is we work on techniques and fundamentals this time of the year.”

“We get to training camp, we put the pads on, see where the top guys are and then we build the team going from there. I have to respect the process this time of the year. I don’t have the privilege as the fans do of just jumping the gun and booking their tickets to Santa Clara (for the Super Bowl).”

–Indianapolis signed undrafted free agent defensive lineman Camaron Beard and waived cornerback Al-Hajj Shabazz.

Beard (6-5, 290) worked out with the team on a tryout basis during Indianapolis’ three-day rookie minicamp after going undrafted out of Cincinnati. He played at Warren Central High School in Indianapolis.

The Colts also signed free agent tight end Sean McGrath and waived tight end Jean Sifrin. McGrath (6-5, 247) has played in 18 games (nine starts) in his NFL career and has caught 26 passes for 302 yards (11.6 avg.) and two touchdowns. He has also appeared in three postseason games.

McGrath spent the 2014 season on the Kansas City Chiefs Reserve/Did Not Report list before being reinstated and waived on April 15, 2015. In 2013, McGrath played in 16 games (nine starts) with the Chiefs and registered 26 catches for 302 yards and two touchdowns. He also saw action in the Chiefs’ lone playoff game. McGrath originally entered the league with the Seattle Seahawks as an undrafted free agent in 2012.


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