My dad and I go to Colts training camp at least once a year. Since the days I was really little and Peyton Manning's career was beginning, to now before I enter my senior year in high school and Andrew Luck is at the helm, we come one day for a practice, and drive back home that night.
Today was that day for me, so I thought I would share my experiences and thoughts on the practice with your guys. It is lengthy, but I was taking a lot of notes. Overall, it was a good practice and I was satisfied with what I saw.
12:13 pm: As we arrive in Anderson, I can't help but think there is a feeling of hope in the air. A lot more than last season. When I came last year, it was mostly just watching Andrew Luck and the other rookies and wondering whether our draft pick the next year would be top 15 or top 10. We ended up making the playoffs. Now, there are division title aspirations. Now, there is reason to be hopeful not because of a new era of players, but a new era of success. For me, today is the start to a new season, and it's going to be fun.
12:19 pm: Oh shit, Colts City doesn't open until 12:30. Oops.
12:31 pm: Yea! Colts City is open! Let camp day begin!
12:36 pm: Oh shit, practice doesn't start until 1:50. Oops.
12:39 pm: Free Blue Bell ice cream samples, Indy Star camp guides, AND corn hole?! THIS PLACE HAS EVERYTHING!!
12:48 pm: I've now counted 7 people not wearing Colts gear. That's 7 too many. There's even one guy in a Maroon 5 concert tee. That's just, just, no.
12:54 pm: Got seats at the practice field back row by the 39 yard line. I can see a majority of the field, and try to check in on every group of players in most of the drills. I'm interested to see some guys like Werner, McNary, Whalen and everybody I've heard is having good camps and everybody who's being talked about. I love Colts Camp. There is nothing else like it.
1:24 pm: I now realize I should have waited a bit to get in my seat. I've been sitting here for a while, and nobody is out here yet. Whomever gets out here first will be a welcome sight to those of us waiting for an hour for sight of a horseshoe.
1:29 pm: It's a bird, it's a plane! No, it's CASSIUS VAUGHN! YYYYYAAAAYYYYY!!!!!!!! All eyes are on the 4th year corner now as he stretches on the far football field. Oh boy, what time does the real practice start again?
1:31 pm: Delone Carter and Justin Hickman come out to join Vaughn. Carter must definitely be feeling the pressure from Brown, Ballard, Bradshaw and Williams to make the roster. Good to see him taking initiative.
1:36 pm: LaVon Brazill and T.Y. Hilton make their way to the field. I'm interested to see how Brazill does considered his recent comments and his suspension. To be honest, I can't help but see a guy who is suspended for weed than a player looking to make his way back from a bad situation. He needs to prove a lot to me to prove that be is serious about football and about being a apart of the Colts organization, and he needs to prove it to a lot of other people too. I'll give him a chance because he has a lot of potential, but he's on a short leash. He better come out and play well.
1:40 pm: A lot of guys out here now. Running, warming up, stretching. I love this team man, it's going to be fun.
1:41 pm: Just noticed Andrew Luck is in a grey warm up doing drills with Matt Hasselbeck and Chandler Harnish. I was looking for a red shirt for a QB, but he's out there. He's leading the QBs in drills, he's telling Hasselbeck what to do out there and Hasselbeck's listening. That's leadership right there. Awesome to see.
1:49 pm: As Kerwynn Williams walks around without his helmet on, I can't help but think that haircut would be so uncomfortable under his helmet.
1:50 pm: The horn sounds and practice begins! High knees and other warm-up drills and stuff to start. "Those aren't high knees, THEY'RE SKIPPIN'!" One little kid with a thick southern accent screams. Today should be a funny day.
1:53 pm: The guy in front of me just called Kerwynn Williams "Treyvon Martin" He said, "#37 right there, that Treyvon Martin kid is fast." ...... Oops.
1:56 pm: Horn sounds to end warm ups and a large ovation for the team coming over to the near field to do special teams drills. Everybody, no matter what string you are is participating. I love the team community, everybody's doing it.
1:58 pm: On the far field, Luck's passes look crisp. Good start on the day for him.
1:59 pm: Kickoff blocking drill happening near field. #2 Brandon McManus can't really kick the ball too far, but the blocking scheme looks good. Williams is a fast dude who can fit into the tiniest hole. He's supposed to get through the blocking and stuff like everyone else, but he's getting through faster. He has really good vision, and it's showing even on a small drill like this.
2:03 pm: Offensive line is doing drills on the far side field. Small blocking things, and technique drills. From a distance, #75 Mike McGlynn's footwork looks good.
2:05 pm: Kickoff blocking dill ends and they split up into positions. WRs and CBs doing a drill together on the near field. LBs, D-lineman and special teams are on the near field too doing punt return blocking. Offensive line is doing more footwork and stuff, and QBs are throwing on the far field.
2:09 pm: Man, that machine can really punt. We should sign him.
2:11 pm: Luck still looks so good on the far side. Every pass is a perfect spiral. Man, this kid is something else.
2:12 pm: There is a ref watching punt return blocking for holding and other penalties. Hasn't had to call penalty yet. The guys are only really going at 75%, but that's still a good sign.
2:13 pm: Found some defensive lineman off in the distance working on some quickness and technique drills. Can't see them very well, but they are working.
2:19 pm: The Colts Super Fans are here and completely decked out and louder than everybody else. That's how dedicated Colts fans are. Even in 80 degree weather we have guys covered in the biggest heaviest gear out there, watching a practice. Gotta love it.
2:21 pm: DBs and a few WRs now working on fumble forcing at top speed. I wonder if we can actually pull that off in a game...
2:23 pm: Luck and Harish do a small blocking drill as the horn sounds and the QBs move into the main stage for passing and handoff drills. DBs are working on footwork and OL is literally blocking through hurdles. Fun to watch.
2:27 pm: While Reggie Wayne was running a route in catching drills, he pointed to a fan taking a picture on the sidelines and turned back in time to still catch the ball. Awesome.
2:28 pm: Antone Bethea is now the loudest person on the field. As the DBs are hitting and doing tackle drills, somebody got a really good hit in and Bethea got really excited. "Woo! Woo! Woo!"
2:29 pm: LBs doing an obstacle course of sorts. Jump over a little hurdle, tackle a tackling dummy and go pick up a bouncing loose fumble. Very few people didn't get the football, good agility by the guys out there.
2:30 pm: QBs and WRs working on fade routes in the end zone. Dwayne Allen with a drop on a Luck pass. Not a good start. Griff Whalen made a great catch on a slant route from Hasselbeck. One handed jumping up, landed with two feet in and held on. He's looking fantastic.
2:34 pm: Reggie with a one handed catch. He does that every. day. No big deal.
2:37 pm: Fleener with a nice one handed snag from Hasselbeck, and Allen with another drop. That's 2 for him on the day.
2:38 pm: The WRs and DBs are setting up for a 1 on 1 battle while the horn sounds. I've been waiting for this. I can kind of see some of it, but I'm definitely watching what I can.
2:41: Wayne makes a grab on good defense by Teddy Williams off a Harnish throw where only Wayne could get it. Good sequence by everybody. Next time up, Wayne burns Vontae Davis on an inside cut move. Reggie looks goooooood.
2:44 pm: As RBs and LBs do a coverage and catching dill, Vick Ballard makes a juggling catch off of Lawrence Sidbury's solid coverage. Got a nice cheer from the crowd. Good play.
2:46 pm: Justice Cunningham has made a few good catches and is finding ways to get open. He has a drop, but he is looking good besides. Better than Allen so far today. Griff Whalen looks good too, making good moves and showing off his hands. Both impressive so far.
2:48 pm: As the horn sounds, the whole crowd cheers after the best sequence if drills so far today. Good job by everybody. QBs and WRs are doing catching and route running, defensive backs are doing zone coverage practice, linebackers and lineman are on the far field doing footwork.
2:52 pm: Justice Cunningham is taking passes with the 2nd team. He is definitely improving his chance of making the roster.
2:55 pm: Reggie give Dwayne Allen a big smack on the ass while going in motion. He's just having a blast out there. Good to see from a veteran who really wouldn't have to do this if he didn't want to.
2:56 pm: Horn sounds as the team gathers for a scrimmage! Lets go! The best part of practice right here. Robert Mathis motions to the crowd to get pumped up and on the defense's side. Nice roar. The fans are ready.
3:00 pm: Donald Brown with a nice run. Good cut back from the left side of the field to the right to find open space. Nathan Palmer and Cunningham both out here with the second unit. Good sign for them, bad for Brazill and Saunders.
3:03 pm: Whalen out with 3rd unit, should be in 2nd in my opinion, but gets a pass broken up off good defense by Larry Asante.
3:05 pm: 1st unit OL (left to right): Castonzo, Thomas, Satele, McGlynn, Cherilus. They've done a good job.
3:06 pm: LaRon Landry picks off Andrew Luck on a play where Luck would have gotten sacked for sure. Still a good read by Ladry, and a good catch too. Next play, Bethea comes in on a charging safety blitz (sign of things to come?) but Brown picks him up. Luck makes the right read and throws deep to Bethea's side of the field, but overthrows Brazill. Would've been a huge play.
3:15 pm: They now move into red zone territory, setting up shop at the 25 and going towards the end zone. So we'll see what plays will get TDs from out here. Hilton beats Vaughn up the middle for just that, touchdown.
3:19 pm: I notice Darrius Heyward-Bey doesn't have his pads on and has a wrap on his left knee. Then I see the person next to me read one of Brad Wells' tweets that reports say he hurt his knee in practice. Good job Mr. Wells, your reports are accurate.
3:22 pm: Luck and Ballard mishandle a handoff, and Landry lays the smack down on Ballard. Huge hit. Everyone walks away okay.
3:25 pm: Short scrimmage ends after a great play by Whalen to get open and catch a touchdown pass towards the sideline. Now to extra point and field goal practice.
3:30 pm: Vinatieri misses a 45 yarder wide right. Then clanks a 48 yarder. *Gulp* Uh oh.
3:32 pm: Team moves to scrimmage without blockers, and 1st play Hilton makes a sliding catch. Nice job.
3:34 pm: Allen makes a nice over the shoulder blind grab. He has redeemed himself from earlier drops in my mind. He's looking better as practice goes on.
3:41 pm: Luck makes a laser of a pass to Reggie on the sidelines that leaves Landry falling to the ground. Werner made a great move to try and get to Luck up the middle too. Overall, good play.
3:43 pm: A false start and a ton of confusion. Everybody pointing fingers at somebody else, but Allen took off down the field. All is well, it's not like it's a game.
3:44 pm: Luck gets pick sixed by Vaughn. That's what showing up at practice first can do for you.
3:49 pm: Mathis looks bad when he's trying to run backwards. He doesn't look comfortable. Could be an issue in coverage this season.
3:57 pm: Tough collision after a deep pass is just over the head of Cunnigham. Two defensive guys collide and fall to the ground. Everyone is okay. Next play Josh Chapman bull rushes and hits Hasslebeck maybe a little too hard. Good job by Chapman, he's been silently good all day, just like Marshay Green.
4:05 pm: Reggie Wayne just dropped a pass. He got open with Mathis covering him, but he just straight up dropped it. It won't cost him a roster spot or anything, it just doesn't happen often so I was kind of surprised.
4:07 pm: Luck deep to Hilton in the back corner of the endzone. It was a great throw, and a great catch, but the ref said he was out of bounds. It's training camp, they're probably some of the replacements from last year anyway. I say, touchdown Colts.
4:08 pm: Bjoern Werner bats down a pass from Luck. Werner has been silently good all day too, and he was playing with the first team. Good sign.
4:09 pm: Brown makes a nice run up the middle. He's been good too, showing good cuts and speed.
4:11 pm: Practice is picking up as Brazill catches a nice pass from Hasselbeck in the back of he endzone. This has been a good scrimmage.
4:16 pm: Luck lasers a pass into Coby Fleener in coverage on an out route. Great throw.
4:24 pm: Field goal unit rushes on with 10 seconds left and they can't get the snap off in time. Kick was good from about 47 yards though.
4:26 pm: After a successful field goal rush on with a made 48 yarder, practice ends for the day. Good practice all around, and some guys really stood out. It was a good day, and it only got me more excited about this team.
4:34 pm: Quite a few guys are still out here practicing and signing autographs. It's a great thing to see all these guys staying and working out to get better and give some souvenirs to fans. Awesome stuff.
It was a very good practice, and a lot of fun to watch, but now I'll look at the individual positions and who performed the best today:
Best Quarterback of the Day: #12 Andrew Luck, 2nd year, Stanford - duh.
Best Running Back of the Day: #31 Donald Brown, 5th year, Connecticut - Williams had a good day too, but Brown showed good speed and had sharp cuts throughout practice. He looked the best today, but I am not on the Donald Brown for starter bandwagon. I thought he was on the border of making the team coming into today and even though he was good, it didn't prove enough for me to make him the starter just yet.
Best Wide Reciever(s) of the Day: #17 Griff Whalen, 2nd year, Stanford and #10 Nathan Palmer, 2nd year, Northern Illinois - Both were very good today, so they get a tie. Wayne was good, but we always expect him to be good, that's what Reggie does. Palmer showed a good ability to get open and catch some tough passes, and Whalen has arguably the best hands in the entire group. Good performances by all wide outs today, but these two stood out.
Best Tight End of the Day: #86 Justice Cunningham, Rookie, South Carolina - Cunningham was getting open and making good catches, as well as making good blocks in the special teams drills. Allen came on strong at the end of practice, but Cunningham was impressive throughout. I'd love to see him get some looks in the red zone this season. He's not a bad young tight end at all.
Best Offensive Lineman of the Day: #75 Mike McGlynn, 6th year, Pittsburgh - His footwork and quickness was good and he didn't let a lot of guys get by him in pass protection. The inside running lanes were good on the first team (which might have been what made Brown look so good). McGlynn might be making it difficult for Hugh Thornton to try and get the starting job when he returns from injury.
Best Defensive Lineman of the Day: #61 Josh Chapman, 2nd year, Alabama - Man, this guy is huge. That's the first thing I noticed was that he was a big boy. I tried to keep an eye on him while he was in the scrimmages and stuff, and he was quick on his feet for a guy his size, and he never backed up because he was getting blocked. For some reason, he was on the second unit most of the day, but that needs to change soon.
Best Linebacker of the Day: #92 Bjoern Werner, Rookie, Florida State - Werner was very good today at getting to the quarterback. He would go up the middle, around the edge, hand in the ground or standing up, he was creating pressure. He was the best linebacker in coverage too, better than Mathis and Eric Walden. By the end of practice he was with the second unit, and I hope he stays there.
Best Defensive Back of the Day: #25 Marshay Green, 2nd year, Mississippi - I had to look at my roster a few times to make sure I knew who I was watching, but by the end of practice I knew who #25 was. He was going a great job covering guys one on one, and would barely get beat deep when playing tight coverage. He was checking guys at the line of scrimmage and slowing their routes down legally and beautifully. He was flying around with great speed knocking down passes, and even had an interception. It was a fantastic practice for Green, and I hope he keeps it up. I was very impressed.
Best Special Teamer of the Day: #45 Matt Overton, 2nd year, Western Michigan - No bad snaps today. McAfee could handle all of them, and none were off line or anything. Odd that the long snapper gets the award, but I'm pretty sure I couldn't give it to the punting machine. I'm pretty sure we haven't signed it yet.
Overall, it was a fun day, and a good practice for a lot of guys. It's gotten me very excited for the season and ready to watch this team make a deep playoff run. Some people are expecting a sort of "sophomore slump" for the whole team this season, but don't sleep on Indianapolis. The monster is almost done being built, and it will be soon. Go Colts!