Seriously, what happened to the days when the Colts training camp was during the hottest weeks of the year? Outside of one practice, every day for the past week has been absolutely gorgeous. Today was no different.
If you haven't made it up to Anderson yet, I suggest you do while the weather remains hot-but-not-too-hot. From what I've experienced at training camp over the years, this kind of atmosphere doesn't come around often.
Here are my thoughts after watching the afternoon practice:
- I'm starting to get really concerned about Matt Hasselbeck. He was pretty bad throughout last week's practices, throwing inaccurate passes all over the field. Having an off day didn't end that. Outside of one beautiful touchdown pass to LaVon Brazill, Hasselbeck had trouble hitting most of his passes today and looked like a statue in the pocket. Credit Drake Nevis and Josh Chapman for both sacking him on nice inside rushes, but Hasselbeck made it pretty easy by not moving an inch as they closed in on him. I believe having a veteran QB on the team to help tutor Andrew Luck and Chandler Harnish is useful, but the truth is both of those players have looked much better than Hasselbeck so far. It makes me miss Drew Stanton. He really knew how to hold the clipboard.
- Harnish, meanwhile, is starting to look like a future trade chip. His pocket presence and mobility really stood out to me today, especially when he had to chase down a botched Rick Schmeig shotgun snap, pick it up 10 yards in the backfield and then sprint up the sideline to somehow gain positive yardage. Harnish has a powerful arm and is accurate with the ball, especially on his deep passes. He may be even more consistent with those than Luck right now. Even if the coaches aren't comfortable with making him the backup QB, expect Harnish to play well during the preseason. He's better than most third-string players.
- As one of the most talked-up free agent signings over the offseason, LaRon Landry needed a good week of practice after he was mostly invisible through the first six practices. Today was a good start. Landry was active in coverage all throughout Sunday's practice and made a diving interception at one point. His pass coverage has always been a liability, so this is what we needed to see. I just hope it doesn't turn out to be a one-day wonder.
- It almost hurts to type this note. Too bad it's unavoidable. Reggie Wayne must have been feeling like crap today, because he likely had one of the worst practices of his career. I had him down for dropping three passes in an hour and looking strangely uncomfortable on the field. He had separated well from his defender on each route too, so it wasn't like these were tough passes to secure. Reggie just dropped them. Even though I'm making a bullet point about this, my suggestion is to forget it ever happened. Every player has bad practices, and that includes Wayne. I'd bet money on him making highlight reel grabs all over the field as soon as tomorrow.
- Forgot about Adam Vinatieri's age for another year. It looks like it still doesn't matter. He only missed one field goal today out of about 10, and the miss hit the right crossbar and bounced out. Range just doesn't look like an issue either. He's been hitting consistently from the 45-50 yard range and made them well beyond the goal post. I haven't been too confident in Vinatieri for the past few years, but I'm feeling better about him after watching him throughout the last week. He's still got it.
- It looks like Brazill's abdomen injury was the best thing that could have happened to him. He returned to action today and easily had his best practice of training camp. He didn't drop any passes from what I saw and even made one of the best plays of the afternoon, beating Teddy Williams deep for an pretty 30-yard touchdown thrown by Hasselbeck. These are the kinds of practices Brazill needs to have in order to earn the coaching staff's trust, at least when it comes to football.
- I get the Daniel Adongo signing. I know he'll probably ride the season on the practice squad and be coached up to possibly have a situational role in the future. But as of right now, his presence on the roster is the same as adding another player to the PUP. He just doesn't do much besides stand around. I'll admit, I can't be sure right now if he's still dealing with his shoulder issue. If not, and maybe it's just me being selfish, but I want to see him in at least a few simple drills, even if it's a solo activity. Is that too much to ask of the coaching staff?
- Andrew Luck unleashed his best pass of training camp later in today's practice. With T.Y. Hilton streaking past Darius Butler to get open on the right side of the field, Luck passed to him in the back corner of the end zone for a score. The throw went perfectly over Butler's hands and hit Hilton at the precise time for him to get his feet down. Outside of that pass, Luck had a decent day. He completed 20 of his 31 throws with one touchdown and one interception.
- I've started to warm up to CB Marshay Green over the last couple of practices. He's made a few plays in coverage on Hasselbeck, and that continued today when he (I believe) intercepted Hasselbeck along the sidelines. I couldn't see it very clearly. Either way, Green read the comeback route and made an excellent break on it, doing enough to cause an incompletion. He's another candidate for one of the last roster spots at cornerback.
- I really like Stanley Havili's pass catching skills. He hasn't dropped one yet and seems to have a little wiggle to his running style after the catch. The interesting part about those catches is that they usually come out of the I-formation. I've been terrible at predicting whether the Colts are going to run or pass whenever Havili is on the field. If he continues to be used in the passing game going into the season, it's a very, very good sign that the team will be able to confuse opponents about what play they're running, even if a fullback is in the game.
- Kerwynn Williams is really starting to stand out. He had one of the best runs so far of any running back at camp when he ran to the outside and juked by two defenders, causing multiple missed tackles on one play. There's a shiftiness in Williams' running ability that compliments his speed, making him look pretty good on offense and special teams. There were even a few plays today where he took snaps with the first-string group. As of right now, it looks like the Colts drafted two seventh round keepers in him and Justice Cunningham.
- I found out today that Kelvin Sheppard has switched his jersey number to 52, while Lawrence Sidbury had taken Scott Lutrus' old 56 number. For the longest time today, it looked to me like Sidbury was now a starting ILB. But no, that was Sheppard. The competition between him and Kavell Conner looks like it's finally clearing up. Sheppard is almost always the one lining up next to Jerrell Freeman now.
- I see Vick Ballard line up as a wide receiver too often for it to be on just one or two pages of the playbook. I can't wait to see if they use it in the preseason. It didn't work well today, though. Luck overthrew Ballard on a slant route and instead hit Cassius Vaughn, who casually strolled into the end zone for a pick-six.
- George Bremer said he saw ILB Josh McNary playing with all three defensive units today. I didn't notice McNary on the field except on a play where Williams juked past him, but it's an interesting observation from Bremer.
- Vaughn is having a good camp. Use him as a No. 4 cornerback instead of as a No. 1 and he starts looking better, at least in practice. Imagine that.
- John Boyett had both his knees rewrapped on the sidelines today. It was weird to see it done there instead of, oh, I don't know, the training room. Boyett didn't look like a player who was going to be coming back off the NFI list anytime soon. I fully believe that he'll be "redshirted" this year.
- Bjoern Werner batted down a pass by Luck at the line of scrimmage on one play, earning a high-five from Robert Mathis. That's just another skill Werner brings to the team.
- If the Colts are going to follow through with any plans of using McAfee on long field goals, Griff Whalen will have a huge role to play in those scenarios as a holder. They wouldn't waste their time trying to build up another holder if he wasn't going to make the team. To add to that, he had another great practice as a receiver. Translation: He's bound for the final roster.
- There's only a few injuries to report today. Darrius Heyward-Bey left practice with a sprained left knee after he collided with Landry, while FB Dan Moore left with a sprained shoulder. There's no word on how much time either player will miss. Greg Toler, Hugh Thornton, Khaled Holmes, Mario Harvey, Joe Reitz and Sergio Brown were the other players not on the PUP/NFI who I saw miss today's practice.