After a day off on Wednesday, the Colts were back at it again today with their normal schedule, holding a closed walkthrough in the morning and an open practice in the afternoon, fighting out the rain in the process.
Chuck Pagano spoke to the media this morning and gave some injury updates, as well as answering questions relating to camp and the team's first preseason game this Sunday against the Buffalo Bills. Pagano was asked about camp battles that stick out to him, and he said "every one of them." He said that "iron sharpens iron" and that the competition is good for the team. He added that one spot is pretty clear cut and left it up to us to figure out which one. It's pretty obvious.
Pagano said that "today, tomorrow, and Saturday are very important" in preparing for Sunday's game and that if players know what they are supposed to do, then they'll do it. It's about the preparation.
He talked briefly about the expectations for the team and said that "the expectations are going to be there every year" and that they have a bull's eye on their chest right now. He said that they can't just sit back and read what everyone wrote (and is writing) about their 2012 season, or else they'll be right back to the same place they were entering that season. It's absolutely right and the right mindset for the team to have. The head coach saying it in front of the media is one thing. The players doing it on the field is another altogether. As Pagano said, they now have a bull's eye on their chest. We'll see how the team responds - I thing that they will respond really well, but we'll see.
Here's some notes from this afternoon's practice:
- Since we've been on the Darrius Heyward-Bey watch all week, why not start with today's update on him. He was in full pads again today and doing individual drills, and then he took a few snaps with the first team offense in team drills. He caught a slant from Luck. On another play, Luck underthrew a comeback route and DHB couldn't get to it, but a defensive back dove at his knee. He didn't make contact, but still don't like to see that at all. Then, a little while later after a few more snaps, DHB jogged slowly down the sideline and out of the stadium. A trainer soon followed. He returned a little bit later riding the cart and with a smile on his face. He got up and walked right to the sidelines to join the others. He didn't participate any more, but that was apparently because the team never planned for him to. After practice a team spokesman said that DHB did everything the team had planned for him to do.
- Pat McAfee connected on field goals from 52, 57, 60, and 65 yards out and missed from 62 as it hit the left upright pretty well up (at least those are what the yardages appeared to us to be, give or take a few yards). He was easily good from 65 with some yards to spare.
- Darius Butler had a pick-six on Matt Hasselbeck after Lanear Sampson slipped. Butler later had a pick-six on Andrew Luck after he jumped a route. He had a nice practice. He also got a pass defensed, breaking up a pass intended for Coby Fleener, although that one pretty clearly should have been pass interference (nothing was called).
- Bjoern Werner displayed a spin move in the pass rushing drills. I haven't seen him do that much at all, but I'm not complaining at all.
- Caesar Rayford had a real nice practice in the pass rushing drills. On one in particular, he was matched up against Bradley Sowell and Rayford just blew right past him. Speaking of Sowell, I think that he has been more impressive in camp as a receiver than as a lineman so far.
- I haven't seen Josh Chapman getting much reps in camp in the team drills. Perhaps it is to protect the offensive linemen (or at least their self esteem)?
- After the pass rushing drill, Anthony Castonzo was teaching Ben Ijalana something, and after that went over and was doing the same to Bradley Sowell. It's good to see Castonzo taking more of a leadership/teaching role with this offensive line, because like it or not, Castonzo is the best lineman they have and is becoming more of a veteran.
- The offense was spending a lot of time working from their own 2 yard line. What does that say about their expectations? Ok, just kidding - I understand they have to practice it sometime. Shortly after, they were practicing their kneel downs in the victory formation. Similar story, but I'd be infinitely more happy to see that applied in a game than the offense from the 2.
- After coming back from a bit of a rough start and an injury, LaVon Brazill has been impressive recently. He needs to be. After the first five wideouts (Reggie Wayne, DHB, T.Y. Hilton, Brazill, and Griff Whalen), however, this is a very unimpressive group as a whole.
- Kellen Heard really crushed Kerwynn Williams in the backfield after crashing right through the offensive line. It was a pretty good hit too.
- There seemed to be a lot of handoffs today, especially early. Could very well have been the rain and wet conditions.
- Matt Hasselbeck had a good day of practice today. His best throw was also the play of the day. He had a nice lob to Griff Whalen on a wheel route down the left sideline. Whalen made a diving grab and hauled in the pass. It was a great day all around - as I said, the play of the day.
- Cassius Vaughn had a good breakup of a Hasselbeck pass to Brazill in the end zone.
- For all you Donald Brown haters out there, I have some bad news for you. He has been seeing a lot of time in practice so far and is firmly entrenched with the second team until Ahmad Bradshaw gets back (which, by the way, he estimates will be next week). And he really hasn't done anything to stand out in a negative way, either.
- Joe Reitz was playing left tackle with the second team today. The Colts seem to be moving him around trying to find the best spot for him.
- The Colts run A LOT of dump off passes to the running backs in camp every day. If they really do that in games, Andrew Luck's completion percentage will skyrocket. I mean, it will go way up.
- Drake Nevis had a nice pressure on Luck, but the quarterback spun and rolled to his left and escaped, getting the throw off.
- We had what I believe is the first "fight" of training camp for the Colts so far. There was a big scrum involving what looked like most of the team by the time it was done. We didn't see who started it from the defensive side, but Joe Reitz was the offensive player who instigated it. He lost his helmet in the process and the coaches immediately yanked him from the field.
- Andrew Luck was 13/21 with no touchdowns and a pick (which Butler returned for a score). He didn't have his best day of practice by any means. The rain and wet conditions may have been affecting him. He finished strong, however, completing 8 of his last 10 passes.
- After practice, there was a lot going on. Reggie Wayne was playing catch with his kids, Andrew Luck was throwing, defenders were running... a lot going on. Pat McAfee, Adam Vinatieri, and Matt Overton went over to a tent to visit Mia Benge after practice, which was very cool.
- Reggie Wayne had a wrap on his left thigh. He was a full participant in today's practice and was heavily involved at that. After practice he was having fun playing around with his kids. I'm sure it is nothing. Probably just age.
- Greg Toler walked off the field at one point in practice and was being looked at by the trainers, but he then went back to where the other defenders on the sidelines were and the next time the first team defense was out there, Toler was as well.
- Josh McNary was giving great pursuit on one play late in practice and was going from the left side of the field to the right side, and he slipped and immediately grabbed his hamstring. He got up and walked off the field and was trying to walk off the injury and was getting stretched out by the trainer before walking off the field and out of the stadium with the trainer. The thing is, I was just starting to pay attention to him closely (thanks to Conrad Brunner saying to) and I was real impressed. We'll see how long he is out. All we got after practice is that it is a hamstring injury.
- LaRon Landry didn't practice this afternoon. Earlier this morning Chuck Pagano said that the team expects to have him for this Sunday's preseason game, yet he isn't even practicing on the Thursday before? It doesn't make much sense to me, and at the very least I'm not sure how smart it would be to play him Sunday. We already knew he wasn't going to play much, now he may play even less.
- I didn't see Dwayne Allen out there, and after practice we were told that there is no new update on him. We're still anxiously awaiting that one, as Allen missing any significant time would be crushing. I'll let you know as soon as I hear anything. Stay tuned.
- Injury update: LaRon Landry, Hugh Thornton, Khaled Holmes, Joe Lefeged, Jerrell Freeman, Mario Harvey, Dwayne Allen, Sergio Brown, Larry Asante, and Daniel Adongo all did not practice. Teddy Williams (quad), Marshay Green (hamstring), and Josh McNary (hamstring) were injured during practice.