The Colts entered another phase of their offseason program this week, beginning Organized Team Activities. Really, the most important thing that we can gather so far is from what hasn't happened: the Colts have yet to have any significant injuries in OTAs, which is always great - especially after seeing the Cowboys lose one of their best players for what will likely be the season, linebacker Sean Lee, in OTAs earlier this week.
Furthermore, this is a slow period news-wise in the NFL and it's extremely easy to overreact to things in OTAs, but at least it's football! There's still a lot of offseason left, but here's a few notes on what we've heard out of Indianapolis this week.
Firstly, Colts.com posted "highlights" from Wednesday's OTA practice, which you can view here. It really is must-see TV. You can watch new Colts receiver Hakeem Nicks catch a few passes, Andrew Luck fake a handoff to no one (having pretty much the same effect on defenses as when he faked a handoff last year to Trent Richardson), defensive linemen and linebackers running under a bar (including Bjoern Werner), and Chuck Pagano showing off his quarterbacking skills. Yes, there really is just too much awesomeness in that video, and coming soon we'll have a film breakdown of the practice, as well point out everything that Pagano did wrong (yes, I'm kidding about those articles, folks).
Where is Arthur Jones playing?
Indianapolis Star Colts reporter Stephen Holder watched where new defensive lineman Arthur Jones was lining up in the OTAs, and he wrote about it here:
"In the Colts' base defense, Jones is lining up as the three-technique, otherwise known as defensive tackle. Joining him right now in the first unit are Josh Chapman at nose tackle and Cory Redding at defensive end.
"The Colts are taking a slightly different approach in the nickel defense. In that lineup, Jones is playing nose tackle, lining head up on the center. The defensive tackle in nickel is Ricky Jean Francois and the defensive end is Redding."
Nice observations from Holder, as the question about where Jones will play and the questions about the defensive line have been prominent this offseason. Holder cautions and I will as well that this is just the first week of OTAs, but we can get a sense of what the Colts plans are with Jones. I think perhaps the most interesting part isn't that Ricky Jean Francois wasn't in the starting base defense (we all knew he was going to see less playing time after the team signed Jones) but rather that Josh Chapman was. The Colts clearly have high hopes for Chapman (who was the star of training camp last year) and hopefully he can live up to them. If not, I don't think the Colts will have any problem at all kicking Jones over to nose tackle some in the base defense like they apparently already have. But it seems that Josh Chapman will be given plenty of chances to prove himself as the team's nose tackle and feature prominently in the rotation.
According to Kevin Bowen of Colts.com, safeties Colt Anderson, Sergio Brown, Delano Howell, Corey Lynch and David Sims all saw significant playing time at the position in the first week of OTAs. LaRon Landry isn't at the OTAs (which aren't mandatory), leaving both safety spots open for players to see time - which should be good for the development of those guys and for the coaches to get a better idea of what they have at the position. It seems like there's not much of a front runner yet (although I'd assume it to be Howell by default) and there's not much we can tell at OTAs about who will be starting alongside Landry. That's the way it should be, however, as you can't decide starters based on OTAs and this battle will be figured out in training camp.
According to the Indianapolis Star's Mike Chappell, here was the Colts starting offensive line at OTAs Thursday:
For what it's worth, #colts O-line during OTAs: LT ACastonzo, LG LLouis, C KHolmes, RG HThornton, RT GCherilus. DThomas rehabbing quad inj.— Mike Chappell (@mchappell51) May 29, 2014
Honestly, there are zero surprises there, as Donald Thomas is still going through rehab. Rookie lineman Jack Mewhort was working with the second team unit at left guard, though don't read a whole lot into that - firstly, Donald Thomas wasn't practicing today and secondly, Mewhort will likely move around the interior of the line quite a bit.
Injured Players Progressing
The Star's Phil B. Wilson provided an update as to who wasn't practicing Thursday and who isn't at the OTAs:
DNPs at @Colts OTAs today: Wayne, Hilton, Bradshaw, Ballard, Havili, Austin, C. Johnson, Thomas, Swoope, Landry.— Phillip B Wilson (@pwilson24) May 29, 2014
Some of the players not practicing (like T.Y. Hilton) were just resting and others are recovering from injury. It's pretty laid back in terms of getting players out there and the most important thing is health right now. The Colts are generally pretty conservative about when players return to practice, and so you can imagine how much that is probably magnified in OTAs. Practice reports really don't mean a whole lot in OTAs - other than the fact that we know that tight end Dwayne Allen and cornerback Greg Toler, both recovering from season-ending injuries last year, are indeed practicing. The return of both of those players will be huge for the Colts, and it's good to see them back on the field, if only for OTAs.
Also of note, rookie wide receiver Donte Moncrief did not practice Thursday because he is currenlty at the NFLPA's rookie premier event in California.