The start of Indianapolis Colts' training camp has been chippy, with players getting into scuffles, including stars T.Y. Hilton and Vontae Davis. While others might shun the excess physicality, coach Chuck Pagano is embracing it as the Colts try gallop away from the 'soft' label.
"There's a perception out there, and we have to change it," Pagano said Tuesday, via the team's official website. "This is a grown man's game. It's a physical football game, obviously. And a physical sport. It's a team sport. It doesn't fall on one guy. There's only one way you can play it. You've got to practice it. If you don't practice it and you can't tackle on defense, you're not going to be a good defense. So we're putting an emphasis on it."
The "perception" that the Colts were soft was hardly fabricated. Since Chris Ballard took over in the GM office, his No. 1 intent has been to create competition at every position -- especially in a limp-noodle defense. Those efforts have helped lead to a more aggressive camp.
The effort to shed the soft label manifested itself in a practice tussle between Hilton and Davis.
"Just competing, that's all," Hilton said. "At the end of the day, guys are going to compete. You want to show that dog. Me and him showed our dog and at the end of the day, as soon as the period was over we shook hands and talked about it. We're just trying to get better and competing and just get guys involved."
The Colts need to show that dog for 16 weeks when the regular season opens to take back a wide-open AFC South and keep their coach employed for another season.