Colts' Dorsett starting to get foothold on receiver's job
It's a perfect learning environment for a first-round draft pick with game-breaking speed -- even if coaches and defensive players occasionally struggle to find the rookie.
''You have to really focus on him because a lot of times he is running so fast it's hard to keep up with,'' offensive coordinator Pep Hamilton cracked after the shoulder pads went on Tuesday afternoon.
Coming out of college, the book on Dorsett read: Elite speed, great body control and incredible big-play potential.
But the 5-foot-10, 185-pound Miami alum has proven there's a lot more to his game than what scouts found on film.
After Friday morning's walkthrough, Dorsett brushed up on his studies by sticking around to get in some extra work. Coaches rave about his football I.Q., his ability to make catches in traffic and, perhaps the most important trait of all, his underappreciated hands.
Dorsett's incredible show has been an even bigger hit on the road.
He's already a fan favorite at training camp where thousands of fans roared Wednesday night after Dorsett found a crease in the secondary, split two defenders and caught a touchdown.
Off the field, he's been just as impressive.
''I'll have to give him a double thumbs up from that standpoint,'' Hamilton said when asked about Dorsett's ability to retain knowledge. ''He's a guy that our quarterback is starting to trust even more. The more reps that he gets with Andrew, the more he will be able to contribute in our offense.''
And the scarier this increasingly dynamic offense looks.
Hilton and second-year receiver Donte Moncrief both possess enough speed to stretch the field. The 34-year-old Johnson is big, experienced and crafty enough to thrive out of the slot. Tight ends Dwayne Allen and Coby Fleener create matchup problems for opponents, while veteran free agent Vincent Brown and former CFL star Duron Carter are trying to get in the mix, too.
Where does that put Dorsett?
Nobody's saying yet.
''Everything right now is real generic, just going out there and running base plays and stuff,'' Dorsett said. ''I don't really have a sense of where I'm going to line up officially during the season, but I have a pretty good sense in my head.''
The two-time AFC South champs are now experimenting with ways to get Dorsett involved.
Clearly, they want him on the field.
Dorsett averaged 17.6 yards per catch during his college career and led the Football Bowl Subdivision with 23.3 yards over his final two seasons. At the NFL combine, he caught the attention of NFL decision-makers by running the 40-yard dash in 4.33 seconds only to clock a 4.25 and 4.27 during his pro day.
With that kind of speed, Dorsett could make an impact in the return game.
But after the Patriots' secondary smothered Indy's receivers in January's AFC championship game, the Colts see Dorsett as part of the solution.
''He's so smooth that he doesn't look like he's running until he's five yards past you,'' coach Chuck Pagano said in May.
All Dorsett has to do now is continue to learn and produce.
''There are a lot of things that I have improved on coming into this camp. It's basically just running the shorter routes,'' he said. ''I know I've improved on things like that. Just the playbook basically. It's a lot of information, and I'm getting it down because I'm all over the place. Once it trims down during the season, I should be fine.''
Notes: The Colts waived offensive lineman Ben Heenan, a CFL veteran, after reaching an injury settlement signed Arena Football League veteran Kitt O'Brien, an offensive lineman. Heenan was carted off the field with a torn meniscus in his knee. ... Running backs Vick Ballard (hamstring) and Josh Robinson (soreness) both sat out Friday. Rookie offensive lineman Denzelle Good left practice with an undisclosed injury. ... Hilton was excused from Friday's practice for personal reasons.
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