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Greg Toler said his return to health with the Indianapolis Colts has been a “slow roll” intended to assure he gets off to a fast start when it counts.
It's uncertain how much Toler will participate in organized team activities the next three weeks as he continues to come back from a hernia that hampered his season last year. He said recently he is healthy, pending the breakup of some remaining scar tissue from surgery.
As the cornerback opposite Vontae Davis, Toler is expected to be a key cog in the Colts' defense.
“You sometimes ask why you have to go through certain situations, but it's only made me stronger,” Toler said. “I've got a lot to prove this year, to show what I can do. I know my 16-game (production) stacks up with any 16, but I have to stay healthy.”
Toler, who signed with the Colts as a free agent after the 2012 season, played in nine games last year, starting seven. He had 17 solo tackles, six passes defended and one interception. All of those statistics were compiled in the first six games last season. He did return to play in the first-round playoff win over Kansas City, making two solo tackles.
The long stretch without playing was taxing, he said.
“It was tough,” Toler said. “I just tried to give my input in the classroom as much as I could, helping guys out on things as we were watching film.”
Toler said last month that he hopes to fully participate in OTAs, but the extent of his participation remains to be seen. The Colts doctors and athletic trainers want to make sure he'll be at his healthiest when training camp starts in July. The Colts will have media access for OTAs for the first time today.
Other starting players whose status will be watched closely this summer:
* Reggie Wayne. The veteran wide receiver is also likely to get the “slow roll” treatment as he continues to work back from surgery for a torn anterior cruciate ligament. “I'm very, very confident I'll come back better than I was,” Wayne told reporters.
* Ahmad Bradshaw and Vick Ballard. The two running backs might not be full-go for OTAs but both anticipate being 100 percent for training camp.
* Dwayne Allen. The tight end said his health is fine and he expects to hit the ground running.