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ANDERSON – The fluid nature of NFL training camps came to light today with the Indianapolis Colts' announcement they've waived running back Chris Rainey.
The younger brother of Rod Smart, who became famous as "He Hate Me" during his run in the XFL, Rainey had been praised effusively by Colts coach Chuck Pagano on Saturday. By Monday morning, he was gone.
Pagano told reporters after practice today that Rainey was cut for a violation of team rules, but did not elaborate.
Rainey first came to Pagano's attention when Pagano left the Oakland Raiders to return to the college game briefly as defensive coordinator at the University of North Carolina in 2007.
“His brother, He Hate Me, he said, 'Coach, good luck. I know you're leaving, but you might want to take a look at this cat,' and he handed me a DVD,” Pagano said Saturday. “It was Chris Rainey and he was a senior at Lakeland (Fla.) High School. I'm going back to college, so I go home, packed up the house and it's me and Tori, my youngest daughter, and we popped it in and watched four plays. She told me, 'Go get that guy. That guy can play.' It looked like everyone else was standing still on the tape, and that's what he looks like now.”
Rainey didn't go to North Carolina (opting for Florida), but ended up briefly with Pagano in Indianapolis. Whether he'll get another chance remains to be seen. The Colts were hurt at running back by the season-ending torn Achilles suffered by Vick Ballard. Pagano praised Rainey's speed, athleticism and burst and said his kick-return ability could be used by the Colts, too. But the Colts signed another back, Davin Meggett, on Sunday.
Colts tight end Dwayne Allen is a natural with the media. He's engaging, witty and extroverted. So leave it to Allen to add a new adjective to the offense: Exotic.
After missing most of last season with an injury, he says the offense is ready to make a major step forward this season. Allen will be in his third NFL season, along with fellow draft mates quarterback Andrew Luck, wide receiver T.Y. Hilton and tight end Coby Fleener.
“By flourishing, (the offense) is getting more exotic,” Allen said. “(Offensive coordinator Pep Hamilton) started out really basic last year in the things that he installed and the things that we did. This year, he's mixing it up a bunch because he knows we are capable of catching whatever he throws at us.”
Allen says he is starting to feel more comfortable back in the offense after a few days of training camp. The Colts opened training camp on Thursday and have had a steady diet of practices since.
“The first couple days, the first day itself, was the day to knock the rust off,” Allen said. “Since then, I've been just trying to remember. It's amazing how much you forget sitting out for a year. Remembering and really pushing and grinding to learn the position all over again. It's the little things – footwork, hat placement, hand placement, it's working my releases, stuff like that.”
Hamilton caught a lot of grief from fans and media last season when he called the Colts a “run-first offense” and a “power-running offense.” Many took that to mean that the team didn't fully embrace the fact it has one of the NFL's best young quarterbacks.
This season, Hamilton has used the phrase “score-first offense,” but joked that maybe it's time to dial back on pigeonholing an approach.
Hamilton was talking about Allen and Fleener on Sunday when a reporter asked if it was a stretch to call the Colts a “tight end-drive offense.”
“I think we learned a great lesson about pegging or coining a phrase that would ultimately label our offense,” Hamilton said. “But, no, it's a playmaker-driven offense. A score-first, playmaker-driven offense. All of the above.”
Second-year outside linebacker Bjoern Werner has been taking a heavy dose of snaps with the first team offense in anticipation of filling the role when Robert Mathis sits out the first four games with a suspension.
Mathis gets his share of snaps, but the Colts are clearly looking to prepare for his early-season absence.
Jonathan Newsome, a rookie from Ball State, is also getting some work in, but isn't ready to make a contribution just yet, Colts defensive coordinator Greg Manusky said.
“Newsome is where Bjoern was last year,” Manusky said. “It's hard. Bjoern has been having a good practice because it is his second year and usually when guys like that go into their second year, they usually have a lot more success if you look around the league. That's what he's doing. He's doing a pretty good job and Newsome is working through all those kinks like most guys do when they are rookies.”
Linebacker D'Qwell Jackson, who signed as a free agent after playing for the Cleveland Browns, reiterated Sunday that he chose the Colts in large part because of big-picture possibilities.
“My mindset is not only do I want to get to the playoffs, I want to get to Arizona,” Jackson said. “I want to get to a Super Bowl and I think this team is very capable. Very capable.”
Jackson said he has been greatly impressed with teammate Jerrell Freeman so far.
“I had read about him, I had heard about him,” Jackson said. “I'm a fan as well as a player, so before I joined the Colts here, I knew exactly who he was. To be around him, to see how smart he is and how physically gifted he is, he truly can take his game – the sky's the limit with him.”
The Colts are sporting T-shirts that say “Decide” on the back with a photo of the Lombardi Trophy.
“All of us at one point or another have to decide what we want in life and who we want to become,” defensive end Cory Redding said. “What we want to do as a team, where we want to go. I mean, everybody's got their hands up when you say, 'Do you want to win a championship?' Everybody puts their hands up. Now make the decision on what you've got to do to help us get there.
“Sacrifice, get more sleep, get more in your playbook, don't go out to the clubs all the time, don't do this, make a decision. Make a conscious decision to say, 'I'm going to do this to help my team get to where we want to go in life.' And that's pretty much what that whole decision is all about.”