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INDIANAPOLIS – Colts left tackle Anthony Castonzo is too young (25) to give younger players a lecture about how tough things were in the old days.
But he'll tell you rookie Jack Mewhort's jump from college to pros comes with at least one summer benefit that Castonzo didn't have: A playbook.
“He's got an advantage over what I had because I had the lockout,” Castonzo said of his rookie season. “I didn't know the playbook until camp. So he's got a little jump, which is nice. All the rookies have heard the entire playbook about three times already and they're picking it up quickly. You kind of have to in order to get out there. The less you think, the better, really.”
The Colts broke veteran mini-camp on Thursday, parting as a team until they report to training camp in Anderson on July 23.
The rookies, as well as the vets, have the playbook in hand. For offensive players who were around last year, it's a huge bonus, since Pep Hamilton returned as coordinator to maintain continuity for the first time in the Andrew Luck era.
Having those vets around will make it easier for a guy like Mewhort, the Colts' highest draft pick (second round, No.59) this year out of Ohio State. He looks headed for some regular playing time, if not starting time, on the line as a rookie, probably at guard.
“Mentally, it's a different game as far as the playbook goes,” Mewhort said. “The first couple weeks I was swimming. It's starting to slow down a little bit more, which is something I attribute to being around guys who know the system and are willing to help me, which is great.”
Mewhort's locker is in a nice spot at the Colts practice facility, a couple spots from Castonzo's and next to Luck's. It's hard to say why the Colts assign certain lockers to certain players, but it can't hurt to be part of a stretch of lockers that also includes wide receiver Reggie Wayne and running back Vick Ballard.
“I'm learning something new every day,” Mewhort said. “I think this is my sixth week I'm coming here and there's something new every day. It was definitely tough at first. There are basic concepts you have in college that definitely carry over. Other stuff, you have to catch up on, different techniques and more advance stuff.
“It was a struggle the first few weeks mentally to pick everything up,” he said. “A lot of guys around me are willing to help and the veterans are making it easy on me. Every guy – I can't say there's one guy that's given me the cold shoulder – every guy in the O-line room is willing to help whenever I need it.”
Castonzo said the speed at which an offensive lineman makes the leap from wide-eyed rookie to big-time contributor depends on the exposure to pro-style offenses and terminology in college.
The Colts' offense should move at a higher speed, with more complexity, in Luck's third season overall and second with the same offense.
“I was fortunate being in a pro-style offense and I played in two offenses in college and had a bunch of terminology, so it wasn't that much of an adjustment,” Castonzo said. “It's how quick you are to identify things. You have more protections, more at-the-line checks that can be made. There's a lot of listening and recognizing at the line.”
One piece of advice Mewhort has embraced: Pay attention to detail.
“I'm literally taking it hour by hour, practice by practice, looking to improve myself and this team any way I can,” Mewhort said. “The culture here is unbelievable. It's a winning culture, all positive. Nobody ever gets down on anybody else. There's not negativity around here. It's great culture because I come from a good culture at Ohio State, so it's an easy transition for me and everything I could hope for.”