If all goes according to plan, A.J. Edds’ third NFL season won’t be anything like his first two.
Season one was spent on injured reserve. Season two was a whirlwind of address changes.
With roots firmly planted in Indianapolis, Edds is confident season three will follow a more normal script.
If nothing else, he’ll at least start training camp with the team he actually plays for.
“I’m definitely excited, definitely looking forward to getting back in the mix,” said Edds, a former Columbus resident gearing for his second season with the Indianapolis Colts. “I think everybody this time of year starts to get a little bit antsy, just because you know you’re ready to get back to doing what you do.”
For Edds, that means getting back to the business of playing linebacker for the Colts, who report to training camp today at Anderson University. Practice starts Sunday, and Edds — whose 2011 season started in Miami and ended in Indianapolis, with a stop at New England in between — relishes the opportunity to pick up where he left off.
Signed by the Colts in September 2011, Edds appeared in nine games, mostly on special teams, and is vying for a larger role on a team that underwent a massive offseason overhaul.
“To be able to go through training camp with the team you played for is a big deal,” said Edds, who has yet to have that experience.
A fourth-round draft pick of the Dolphins in 2010, he missed his entire rookie season after suffering a right ACL tear in training camp. Responsible for his own offseason rehab because of the 2011 lockout, Edds still earned a spot on the Dolphins’ 53-man active roster at end of last year’s training camp but was waived the next day.
Signed the following day by New England, he made his NFL debut on Monday night football in Week 1 against, ironically, the Dolphins. But he was waived Sept. 22, then signed to the Patriots’ practice squad two days later.
But he finally found a home, with his hometown team, on Sept. 28 when he was signed by the Colts from the Patriots’ practice squad.
His career has been on a steady course ever since. He expects even smoother sailing with a surgically repaired right knee that is finally 100 percent healthy.
“I think I feel as good as I ever have, as far as pre- or post-surgery. Definitely, it’s the best I’ve felt since the surgery,” said Edds, who was a three-year starter at Iowa. “I would say, in my mind, I’m back to my form before the injury occurred.
“I’m excited to get back out there and have my first training camp where I feel really 100 percent with my knee. Last year, coming off the lockout, going through training camp definitely put me behind the eight-ball.”
When the Colts officially launch camp, it be the dawn of a new era for the franchise. Besides the departure of Peyton Manning and a host of other familiar players, the Colts start afresh with rookie quarterback Andrew Luck, the No. 1 overall pick of the 2012 draft, and an entirely new coaching staff led by first-time head coach Chuck Pagano.
Edds, who is learning his fourth defensive system in three years, is an early fan of the new coaches, who are trying to pick up the pieces of a 2-14 season.
“I love coach Pagano. He’s a great coach. He knows how to work with players,” said Edds, who resides on the north side of Indianapolis. “He’s a respectful guy. I think the people of Indianapolis are just going to love him the longer they get to know him.
“Our defensive coordinator, Greg Manusky, he’s a good coach, as well. And then (linebackers) coach (Jeff) FitzGerald has coached some of the best linebackers in the league that are playing right now. So we’ve got a lot of really knowledgeable, smart coaches, and they’re good coaches to play for. So I think pretty much across the board everybody in the locker room’s excited about the staff.”
More than anything, Edds is excited about playing. Training camp is the first step. To prepare, he’s spent much of the past week following coaches’ orders. Which is too take it easy until the real work begins.
“You still work out, but you’ve got to kind of keep an eye on it. You don’t want to overdo it,” Edds said. “The last 72-plus hours is pretty vital recovery time in order to set you up for a long-term grind. And so definitely still working out, but at this point, the majority of the bulk work’s been done.
“So a lot of relaxing and getting off my feet. I played golf a couple of times this week just to keep moving a little bit and wait until Saturday morning.”
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