Well, I'm finally back and I'm at Anderson ready to cover the Colts for the rest of training camp. It is another beautiful day and, as one of the other media members pointed out, it may have been the hottest day of camp yet - and it still would have felt really cool last year. I can't complain at all.
This morning after the walkthrough we had the chance to talk to defensive coordinator Greg Manusky, offensive coordinator Pep Hamilton, and quarterback Andrew Luck. Luck was asked if he needs to play as much in this Sunday's preseason game as he did in the preseason as a rookie, and Luck answered, "Absolutely. Love to play a lot, need to play a lot, need to keep getting better." Greg Manusky said that the defensive players will play roughly 10 plays (or a series) and the main thing he wants to see is that he just wants to see them playing together and see "high level defense." Hamilton said that even though they won't have a full game plan in place Sunday, it's still no excuse and he wants to see the offense have solid mechanics.
Perhaps the best quote of the day, however, came from Greg Manusky when he was asked about the daily offense versus defense in practice. Manuksy simply said "we always win."
Here are some notes, observations, and thoughts from this afternoon's practice:
- To start with, just one note from the morning walkthrough: although Ahmad Bradshaw didn't participate at all today, he was taking handoffs yesterday in what Chuck Pagano described as "mental reps." Pro Football Talk put up an article yesterday about how that's technically against the PUP rules. Here's what my thought is after watching just one walkthrough - why does it even matter? I know that the rules are rules, but heck, I was doing as much as some of those players. It's called a "walkthrough" for a reason. I didn't think it was a big deal yesterday, now I don't know why we're even talking about it.
- Greg Toler participated in practice today after missing the past few days with a concussion. He looked fine and even spent some time on the jugs machine after practice.
- It really is crazy how much Griff Whalen reminds me of Austin Collie - he even wears number 17! But Whalen seriously catches everything thrown his way. There was one play where Luck threw to Whalen but the pass was real low and hit the ground before it even got to Whalen, and we were joking about how it has to be a pretty terrible throw for Whalen not to catch it. That has a lot of truth to it. He was real impressive again today and seems to be a focal point when running with the second team offense.
- Inside linebacker Justin Hickman got some really good playing time today. He's a guy to be watching for, as it seems that the team likes him and is giving him the chance to prove himself, even working with the first unit at times.
- There was a nice play early on in practice where Chandler Harnish threw a short go route (maybe 15-20 yards, I couldn't exactly tell) to Stanley Havili in the end zone for a score. It was odd seeing a fullback run that route, but from everything I have heard Havili's hands have been impressing people. I wouldn't be surprised at all if they used him in the passing game quite a bit.
- Andrew Luck's second completion to the day was a great play, as he threw it a bit downfield to T.Y. Hilton, who at the last second broke towards the sideline and caught the pass just over Darius Butler, who was guarding him. It was a real nice pass and a nice play by Hilton as well.
- Something I noticed today was that Emmett Cleary was working at right guard. Ben Ijalana was practicing left tackle when I saw him, so it could be that Cleary and Ijalana switched. Again, just an observation that I'll be watching closer in the next few days.
- Reggie Wayne had another drop today, which is nothing to worry about but it does make it 4 in 2 days.
- LaRon Landry was being worked on at various times throughout practice but it didn't affect his practice time and it appeared to just be cramping in his left leg.
- Lanear Sampson didn't exactly have an impressive practice. The one play that really stands out in my mind was one where he had the defensive back beat on a deep fade-type route and he pretty much just gave up on the ball.
- The play of the day came from Reggie Wayne, who had a great snag diving in and taking the ball away from Vontae Davis before it could get to the corner. A fellow media member described it as Reggie "intercepting the ball" from Davis, which was probably a pretty accurate description. It looked like a sure pick before Reggie dove in and snagged it. The very next play, the Colts went for a fade route in the corner of the end zone to Reggie, but it was broken up by Davis. The battle between Reggie and Davis seemed to be pretty good at times today, though we didn't get to see that much of Davis on Wayne today.
- Matt Hasselbeck also had a nice play today, rolling left and throwing a sidearmed pass to Griff Whalen, who was slanting and caught it for a score.
- Montori Hughes was back at nose tackle today, so we'll see where that goes.
- Kicker Brandon McManus doesn't look that bad, but again, he doesn't have a shot at the roster.
- Dwayne Allen had a few passes go through his hands today, but it didn't really stand out as a bad practice for him.
- Joe Lefeged was playing as the personnel protector on the punt team today to close practice. That's strange and I don't know if I like it. I'll have to see if that continues.
- Here's what it seems like to me: when the Colts run their base 3-4 defense, it seems like it's Mathis and Walden at outside linebacker (and if not that, then Werner and Walden). But when they go to nickel and have 4 defensive linemen, it's Mathis and Werner as the bookends of the D line (with Redding and Ricky Jean Francois in the middle). That's how it figures to shake out, at least at the beginning of the season.
- Andrew Luck today was 20/27 with no touchdowns and no interceptions, per George Bremer and Mike Chappell. He completed his first 10 passes of the day.
- A funny moment came when the offensive and defensive lines were going against each other and Robert Mathis, standing off to the side, had the yellow flag and was ready to call a holding penalty when he saw one. He was having fun, which is always good to see.
- Speaking of having fun, Matt Hasselbeck provided the laugh of the day. Towards the end of practice he was at the line calling out audibles when he yelled, "Dora the Explorer!" It gave us a good laugh and the crowd laughed as well.
- Jerrell Freeman missed practice today with a shoulder injury and Larry Asante missed practice with an AC joint sprain (shoulder). Also missing practice was Darrius Heyward-Bey (knee, more on him in the next point), Hugh Thornton (ankle), Khaled Holmes (ankle), Sergio Brown (hamstring), Mario Harvey (hamstring), Joe Reitz (stinger), and Daniel Adongo (bicep). Freeman, Asante, and DHB's injures are not serious, per the team, though no timetable was given for their returns.
- On Darrius Heyward-Bey, the team said his injury is "not serious." They didn't give a timetable, however, for his return; all they said was that contrary to reports it is not a serious injury. Those reports are apparently from ESPN's Chris Mortensen, who reportedly said on the NFL Insiders show this afternoon that "he's definitely going to miss a lot of time here. Sprained MCL." Who to really believe, I don't know. Keep in mind, however, that just because an injury is not serious doesn't mean that DHB won't miss some time. Will Carroll (i.e. the injury expert) tweeted what he is hearing regarding Heyward-Bey:
Hearing DHB knee injury is a Grade I+ MCL sprain. Not surgical, timeline depends on his response to treatment, strength of 2d stabilizers.— Will Carroll (@injuryexpert) August 5, 2013
- Lastly, we got word right as practice was beginning that linebacker Monte Simmons was released. There is no other transaction yet, but it likely will come soon. Who will it be? The obvious guess would be wide receiver, but also don't rule out a defensive back. Both spots could use some help. I still say receiver, but we'll see. Hopefully we'll get more info on it soon.