We're two days into the Colts training camp, and I, a media member, am already tired. I wonder how the players feel?
Day Two was another productive practice for the offense. A couple of players really stood out more than they did yesterday, and a few of those names may surprise you.
Here's my thoughts after watching the afternoon practice.
- If the star of the first day was Griff Whalen, T.Y. Hilton was the star of the second. He made great catches in tight coverage and separated well throughout the entire practice. Whalen is known for being reliable and for having good hands, but Hilton had one of the worst drop percentages in the league last year. If he's going to take the next step toward becoming a better wide receiver, he must limit his drops. Maybe Monday's afternoon practice was a sign of things to come. The past two days have at least proven that Hilton won't be fading into the background under Pep Hamilton's new offensive scheme. He's going to be heavily featured, both from routes out of the slot and on outside routes.
- It's only been two days, but Coby Fleener has had an excellent camp so far. I've only counted one drop by him, and that was in tight coverage in the first practice. He's otherwise been smooth with his routes and consistent with his catches. It looks like Hamilton's offense him will indeed put him in position to have a bigger role on offense. Luck has targeted him often in routes out of slot, and that's a credit to how well Fleener is creating separation. He managed to sneak over the middle near the end of practice and catch a pass from Luck cleanly before charging up the sideline for about 40 yards. I can't wait to see more from a player who a lot of fans were ready to turn into a whipping boy at the end of last season.
- In less surprising news, Dwayne Allen has been very good. Interestingly enough, he's also been working out of the slot often in passing tree drills. I'm sure the coaches will put him in position to do damage with his blocking more often, but I also get the feeling that they like him as a move piece. In-line tight end, slot wide receiver, H-back - Allen can do it all. It looks like they'll use him in that way.
- Griff Whalen saw one snap with the starters before he reverted back to his role with the second team. On that snap, he caught a pass from Luck on a slant and ran upfield for 10 or 15 yards. That was enough to show that the coaches like what they see from Whalen just as much as the fans do. He had another excellent day with no drops, but he didn't have as many opportunities to shine as yesterday.
- Greg Toler was the most impressive defensive back of the afternoon. I counted three pass breakups by him (one was still completed after Reggie Wayne recovered it in the air). Darius Butler was efficient as well, picking off Luck at the end of practice for his second interception in two days.
- The second-team offensive line is from left to right, Sowell-Reitz-Holmes-Linkenbach-Cleary. Third team is Ijalana-Griffin-Schmeig-Ziemba-Anderson.
- Multiple media members reported that QB Andrew Luck finished 27-43 with no TDs and an INT that was once again grabbed by Butler. He's definitely still looking for his groove, but there were periods throughout the practice where he was hitting everything he threw. He just needs to be more consistent.
Bjoern Werner continues to play extensively with the starters. Unlike yesterday when he solely rushed the QB, Werner occasionally played in a stand-up role today and dropped back into coverage a few times.
- The coaches are crafting the defensive line rotation they'll use throughout the season, giving NT Josh Chapman, DE Ricardo Mathews and DE Drake Nevis time with the first team.
- I keep warming up to 6'6 WR Jeremy Kelley. His size doesn't keep him from being smart and consistent in practice. He's shown good hands through the last two days.
- DL Montori Hughes, TE Justice Cunningham and NT Martin Tevaseu all left practice with apparent injuries, but none of their situations sound bad. Mike Chappell of the Indianapolis Star reported that Hughes and Cunningham both had cramps, while Tevaseu injured his right shoulder.
- Rookie RB Kerwynn Williams was mixed in with the second-team offense occasionally throughout the day. Quickness and explosion are definitely there for him.
- LB Kavell Conner has always been dogged for his pass coverage, but he actually had the first pass breakup of the practice, batting a ball down in the flats.
- Yes, I'm going to end this post with the worst news I have. Darrius Heyward-Bey is not having a good camp. Former Colts quarterback Jack Trudeau has counted DHB for five drops over the last two days, as tweeted by WNDE's Derek Schultz. He saw one perfect pass today from Luck over the middle of the field that he flat-out dropped. Hilton and Whalen are both clearly outperforming him as he struggles to fit in with the offense. However, it's important to note that it has only been two days of freaking training camp. Let's give him some time to adjust.
If you have any other questions about camp today, leave them in the comments below or tweet at me (@andrewmishler). I'll try to answer them tonight or find answers to them tomorrow.