Looks like lots and lots o' fans showed up for the Colts annual night practice at Rose Hulman. Some suggest it was a record, which is crazy because I've been to night practices before and it always seems the place is wall-to-wall fans. For MarkFive05, night practice allowed him to see some of the new wrinkles the Colts are using in their defense.
First it was another great attendance by the fans. I wouldn’t be surprised if it set the record of most fans at a practice. With that out of the way I’ll do this in order that it happened/I remember it.
Overall though, the story of the night has to go to the Defense. I really like what they are doing with these little wrinkles. Three down line men with Brock moving around a bit and then Session and/or Silva blitzing numerous times. They also swapped Freeney and Mathis a couple times. If it was a full game Manning would of been sacked about 3 times. They really put the pressure on him caused him to make a dumb throw or two.
Indeed, several people I know who attended night practice thought the "star" of the practice was the defense. There is a different feel about this group, and in practices (like last night) the offense seems to enjoy the challenge of facing this new, attack-style defense. This is not to suggest that the Ron Meeks coached defenses of the past were "easy," just that if you face the exact same defense every day for seven years, things tend to get a tad familiar.
If the defense was the star, then the punting unit was the "fluffer." MarkFive05 explains:
The first drill that I focused on was the punt drills. Here we may have a problem. With the first team punting, McAfee, he was blocked once, and ran into twice. When he was able to get them off without a player all over him they were nice punts, but we could have a blocking issue. What I found interesting the guy that blocked it and caused issues was Austin Collie. Even when Masthay came out to punt there were still issues with getting the punts off.
Special teams coach Ray Rychleski has his work cut out for him, working in a rookie punter while, at the same time, energizing the special teams players. While I'm not thrilled that this punt coverage unit is not sharp, that is what training camp is for, folks: Sharpening up dull knives. From what I hear, players like Rychleski, and the group, in general, is excited to play special teams once again. After years of Russ Purnell-led garbage, I'll take any kind of improvement.
Indy Lori has has a FanPost up with her observations of night practice.
Other notes from night practice after the job.
- Austin Collie took several snaps at slot receiver. This is the second practice in a row where Collie has played a majority of the snaps at slot. Taj Smith also was used there. Pierre Garcon is now with the second unit playing in Reggie Wayne spot. Based on this, it seems Collie is in the lead for the 3rd WR position. But, it's still early.
- Keyunta Dawson seems to be settleing into his new role as a DE on run downs and a DT on passing downs. Both he and Raheem Brock got "sacks" last night in the scimmage.
- Pat McAfee can boom punts, but he is not consistent enough yet.
Tony Ugoh looks good! He is doing a very fine job blocking Dwight Freeney not just last night but in camp in general. He looks to be in great shape, and is hustling hard.
- Joseph Addai, Donald Brown, and mike Hart all broke long runs.
- Collie and Garcon are sharing a lot of the punt returning duties.
If you attended night practice, share your thoughts here.
The Colts had a 8:30am practice this morning (nevermind, it's an afternoon special teams practice), and we're waiting to hear news from that session. Thanks to MarkFive05 and Indy Lori for sharing their observations of last night's practice!