The Colts don't haze, and they actually do whatever they can to make rookies feel as if they're part of the team. Colts quarterback Peyton Manning said there's a simple reason:
They're not only part of the team, but they're expected to be important factors in the team's success.
"You've seen all the highlights with the rookie hazing and haircuts," Manning said Tuesday. "We don't do that around here, because we don't treat the guys like rookies. We expect those guys to play this year and to play well."
Manning, the Colts' starting quarterback and the Associated Press NFL Most Valuable Player a record four times – including each of the last two seasons – said the Colts are tough on their rookies in one sense: expectation level.
The Colts historically have gotten big contributions from rookies, with wide receiver Austin Collie, running back Donald Brown, cornerbacks Jerraud Powers and Jacob Lacey and punter Pat McAfee all playing key roles last season.
"We're probably not very patient," Manning said. "We don't cut them a whole lot of slack. If they're on the team, we expect them to know the offense and to be in there. That's why we treat them all like veterans."
The Colts' approach in the area is far from a recent trend. Throughout much of Manning's career, which has coincided with the tenure of Colts President Bill Polian, they have remained one the younger teams in the NFL. While they pay well to keep players they drafted who they consider core, franchise-level players, they historically allow contributing players to leave via free agency to stay under the salary cap.
Key to the philosophy is Polian's ability to draft talent capable of contributing quickly, and in recent seasons, players such as safety Antoine Bethea, running back Joseph Addai and last year's group have been critical to the success of a team that has made eight consecutive playoff appearances.
Also crucial to the process has been the willingness of veterans to work with young players, something Manning said he takes particularly seriously.
"I think you have to put the work in," Manning said, citing offseason passing work he has done with players such as rookie tight end Brody Eldridge. "He's going to play a role in the offense this year. I think you have (to) spend the time with him. You have to watch some film with him. You have to go out and throw with him.
"What I've always liked to do is instead of going out and throwing with three quarterbacks and 10 receivers, I'd rather just take me and one receiver and go out and have truly one-on-one throwing where you might throw 30 routes and you're talking about the route beforehand. You're really trying to reach and get him on the same page with you. . . .
"I like that because it keeps the older guys like me and (center) Jeff (Saturday) and (kicker Adam) Vinatieri feeling young, but at the same time, when you bring in new players it means you're going to have to work even harder to bring those guys up to speed and get timing down."