By George Bremer The Herald Bulletin
---- — INDIANAPOLIS — Second-round pick Jack Mewhort was elevated to the first team offensive line this week.
And while the Ohio State graduate isn’t about to start celebrating, he enjoyed his first practices with the Indianapolis Colts starters.
“Having the opportunity to be up on the first team is incredible,” he said. “Being in the huddle with (quarterback) Andrew (Luck) and seeing how he operates, it’s a cool experience. And I’m going to capitalize on every opportunity that I get.”
Mewhort supplanted veteran Lance Louis at left guard, with the former Chicago Bear and Miami Dolphin working this week on the second team. But the depth chart means little as the team completes its final week of organized team activities.
The goal is to get the newcomers — rookies and free agents alike — comfortable with the Colts’ scheme and their role within it.
“(Left guard) was one of the positions that (Mewhort) played at Ohio State,” offensive coordinator Pep Hamilton said. “So we just wanted him to have an opportunity to get in and build some continuity with the guys up front and just find his comfort zone. He’s working hard, and he’s a tough, smart guy, and he’s a welcome addition to our offensive line.”
With two starters gone from last season — center Samson Satele and right guard Mike McGlynn — Mewhort understands there is great competition for jobs on the interior of Indianapolis’ line. That competition only will heat up with the expected return of Donald Thomas — last year’s starter at left guard for two games before a season-ending quadriceps injury — at training camp.
But Mewhort is focused only on what he can control. He’s honored the coaches thought enough of him to give him first-team reps, and he’s grateful to soak up the knowledge from the veterans around him.
He’s also ready to ramp up the intensity in next week’s mandatory mini-camp and beyond.
“Training camp’s definitely getting close, and I know mini-camp’s going to be big next week,” Mewhort said. “So we’re getting closer to the real thing, and I can’t wait to get those pads on.”
POSITION SWITCH FOR HARVEY
Former inside linebacker Mario Harvey has lined up this offseason as a fullback with the first-team offense. On Wednesday, he made a nice catch along the sideline and managed to keep both feet in play on a pass from Luck.
The switch appears to be permanent.
“We felt his best position to help our football team is at the fullback position,” running backs coach David Walker said. “We made the decision obviously right before we got started (with OTAs), and he bought into it. And he’s been doing a really good job with it so far for us at that position.”
BJOERN BULKING UP
General manager Ryan Grigson’s offseason wish-list included a more powerful Bjoern Werner. The Colts believed the outside linebacker from Florida State needed to pack on muscle to help fight off blocks along the offensive line.
The 2013 first-round draft pick responded by staying in Indianapolis for all but one week during the offseason and committing himself to the weight room.
The proof won’t truly be evident until the preseason when plays are live and Werner is unleashed in pursuit of the quarterback. But the early results are positive.
“He made a commitment to stay put, and he looks a lot better,” linebackers coach Jeff FitzGerald said. “He just moves better, carrying his weight better, looks better, stronger. (Strength and conditioning coach Roger Marandino) and the guys have done a great job with him in the weight room. So I’m excited about him.”
INJURIES ... AND NEAR MISSES
Defensive end Fili Moala reportedly suffered a torn anterior cruciate ligament and will miss the entire 2014 season. The Colts placed Moala on injured reserve Wednesday and signed undrafted free agent Gannon Conway out of Arizona State.
Conway spent three days with the Miami Dolphins in May.Indianapolis also got a scare during Wednesday’s practice when wide receiver TY Hilton fell to the ground and grabbed at his knee after an overthrown incompletion. Hilton bounced up after several seconds and walked off the field under his own power.
The third-year rising star returned to practice a few plays later and told reporters in the locker room he felt fine.