Phillip Dorsett is not the normal rookie

ANDERSON, Ind. — Phillip Dorsett has shown more than just speed at training camp.

NFL rookies typically need time to hone their craft and enhance their skills against fellow professionals. Dorsett is no different, but the Indianapolis Colts wide receiver is already wise beyond his 22 years.

During last Friday’s practice at Anderson University, quarterback Andrew Luck went deep in Dorsett’s direction with an on-target bomb. The first-round draft choice had a step on the safety and a closing cornerback. The rookie ever so subtly took his eye of the ball to look off one of the defenders, then found it again in flight and made the catch for about a 60-yard gain.

Proven NFL wide receivers develop this skill of not alerting defenders to an incoming pass by how they look back for the ball and not putting their hands into position to make a catch until the last possible moment.

Dorsett already has this ability down pat.

“He’s an active listener,” Colts offensive coordinator Pep Hamilton said. “He’s done a great job of digesting a lot of information and I think you see the fruits of his labor out on the practice field. He’s making a ton of plays and he’s not just playing in one spot.”

That’s been Dorsett’s biggest adjustment to the Colts’ playbook. In this offense, receivers are expected to know all of the positions and routes. Dorsett’s ongoing learning process hasn’t prevented him from turning heads and impressing teammates as well as fans with continual cant-miss catches.“I feel like I was pretty prepared for camp,” Dorsett said of his work during offseason training activities and mini-camp. “Training hard in the offseason like I always do, mentally preparing, just going over your plays, going over your iPad. We had our iPads over break, so I was always in it. I was ready.”

He’s learning every day from Pro Bowl stars T.Y. Hilton and Andre Johnson. Dorsett and Luck have their timing down, too. Hilton, among other things, has set an example for how to be crafty to get open. Johnson defines work ethic and attention to detail as a consummate professional.

“The biggest thing I’ve learned from Andre is the way to work, how to go about your business,” Dorsett said.

They worked out together in Miami before Dorsett was drafted. Johnson has praised his understudy periodically, beginning in offseason training activities.
Dorsett understood he could enhance his learning curve with his preparation in the offseason.

“There are a lot of things that I have improved on coming into this camp,” he said. “It’s basically just running the shorter routes. I know I’ve improved on things like that. Just the playbook basically. It’s a lot of information, and I’m getting it down because I’m all over the place. I would say basically the playbook. Once it trims down during the season, I should be fine.”

Dorsett is involved in a competition with second-year pro Donte Moncrief and rookie Duron Carter for playing time as the team’s No. 3 wide receiver. Each have made their share of noteworthy plays. Carter, the son of NFL Hall of Famer Cris Carter, had an exceptional opening week before being slowed by a groin injury. Moncrief has given every indication he’s upped his game after showing flashes of tremendous potential as a rookie.

While the pecking order is undecided so far, Dorsett’s potential suggests he could start the regular season as the slot receiver.

But for now, he’s continually studying to ensure he’s prepared to play any position.

“I am not going to lock you into one position,” Hamilton said of wide receiver sets. “You have to learn our concepts, you have to learn what all of the guys have to do because a big part of what we do is we want our receivers to be interchangeable. We just talked about it, we have to be able to move guys around so that defenses can’t just key in on one guy.”

That said, Dorsett’s speed is an undeniable strength. Anyone who runs under 4.4 in the 40-yard dash is going to open eyes when he turns it loose.

“The one thing that we have to do as coaches is we have to understand that a guy like Phillip, his biggest asset is his speed,” Hamilton said. “So there is no reason for us to handcuff him and force him to slow down because he’s overthinking things. I have to do a good job of making sure that I do not get greedy and try to put too much on him.”

So far, so good.

“It’s basically the same as the offense I ran in college,” Dorsett said of his Miami Hurricanes days. “Just more plays, more terminology and different things like that. It’s basically the same, so I really didn’t have to change how I play.”

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