ANDERSON - Pads bring out the aggressor in all of them.
Whether as kids, high schoolers, collegians or professionals, there is a unique moment when the shoulder pads slip on for the first time in the twilight of the summer.
“I think the same thing it means all the time," said running back Delone Carter of what putting the pads on for the first time. "Everybody is going to be turned up today and you know you got to go out there and be ready for everything.
"Somebody is going to put their shoulder into you."
That's probably true for most when the Colts put on the pads for the first time in training camp on Tuesday afternoon. The football ritual of contact often brings out emotion from players and can make for a more energetic workout.
In the spirit of the more health conscious NFL, however, some of the players are trying to make sure there is a balance between competitiveness and safety as they get ready do hit for the next two weeks in Anderson.
"You just got to play smart.," said safety Antoine Bethea. "If a guy eyes you up you can thud him up, but if a guy doesn’t see you then you know just keep on going and live to play the next play.
"So we all are professionals here, just got to be smart but at the same time be aggressive.”
Proceeding with that philosophy figures to help a young Colts team figure out what players will be able to contribute right away and which ones won't.
"When you put on the pads and have that threat of being hit, its how you handle it," said Colts safety Tom Zbikowski of the first day in pads. "It will just be a little more thumping, no one is going to be going to the ground.
"I think that's one of the biggest things that just because you have shoulder pads on doesn't mean its live. You still want intelligent football players."
NFL rules have helped the cause of safety and saving players for not just the season but for their careers. In the 2011 NFL Collective Barganing Agreement, teams must wait for three days of training camp before having a padded practice. After that the team can only hold one padded practice a day with a walkthrough practice as well.
The Colts reported to camp at Anderson University on Saturday and then practiced for two days, giving the team the necessary amount time to hit the pads Tuesday.
"The couple days in shorts helped a lot," said rookie receiverT.Y. Hiltonof not going through full padded practice early. "Helps us get our legs back coming off the break so lets just go out there and play."