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2011 Colts Training Camp: Notes From Last Evening Practice

Another beautiful night in Anderson kicked off with the announcement that over 70,000 people had attended Colts Training Camp, and that Colts Camp would be staying in Anderson for the next 5 years, something everyone was quite happy about. It's good to have some stability, and it's good I only have to drive about 50 minutes to get there, rather than over an hour and a half to get to Rose Hulman.

The practice wasn't nearly as fast-paced as previous practices had been, and I'm sure the fact that they'd played a game just a few days earlier played a part in that. Before, all units were doing something for the first hour or so, but last night there were a few times where only the linebackers were doing drills, then it was just the Offense practicing against each other on running plays. I noticed Jim Caldwell intently watching those parts, so maybe he decided he really wanted to see those drills, so he gave the rest of the players some rest.

There was also a little bit more live-action, about the last 45 minutes of practice, which is always the best part. I have to say, the drills are quite boring. Well, except for the one. The Offensive Linemen did a pulling drill, where at the end they dove head first into a heavy bag, held up by somebody else. It was pretty entertaining to watch, and was much more interesting then watching Mike Hartline throw a quick out with no defenders.

Some specifics about the practice after the jump...

  • I think I have figured out Curtis Painter after watching him in several practices. The guy is able to make pretty much every throw asked of him. He's shown it in virtually every practice. The problems start when he gets defenders in his face. He just locks up. He has trouble stepping up in the pocket, he hurries throws, throws off-balanced, etc. He threw maybe 20 7-on-7 passes yesterday, and another 20 in the red zone, and save for one (an almost INT by Philip Wheeler), he was on the money each time. During live-action drills though, I'm not sure he completed a pass more than 10 yards down the field, in at least 20 plays.
  • Dan Orlovsky had some really, really nice throws last night, including a couple 15 yard, opposite hash, sideline routes, one to Anthony Gonzalez, and one to Marshall Williams (more on him in a minute). However, he made the biggest blunder of the night, trying to force a pass in red zone drills, which was picked off by Gary Brackett, and would have been run back for a TD save Reggie Wayne jumping off the sidelines and "tackling" him. It got a nice hand from the crowd.
  • Both the QBs and WRs were owning the DBs in the one-on-one goal line drills. I believe there was a stretch of 7 straight TD passes thrown, several of them over the shoulder catches. Tough to tell whether the offense is just that good, or the defense that bad, but I guess we'll find out as the season goes along.
  • The biggest run of the live-action drills was by Darren Evans, who had a gaping hole over the right side, behind Kyle DeVan and Ben Ijalana. Evans and Chad Spann were used sparingly last night, probably because they got so much work in the game Saturday night.
  • I thought the Offensive Line, as a group, played really well last night. The second team offense drove 55 yards down the field on the first team defense, thanks in large part to the protection given to Orlovsky. I think towards the end the starters were rotated out, just for a breather, plus they ran first team vs. first team right after that.
  • Anthony Castonzo looked quite comfortable all night, even with Dwight Freeney across from him. Early returns are quite good on this kid.
  • Of the Wide Receiver group, Marshall Williams was the standout to me. It started in the drills, where he made several shoestring grabs. His routes were crisp, he caught a corner end zone pass perfectly, and didn't drop a ball all night. I'm not sure what the Broncos didn't see in him, but I like him a lot. I hope he gets a few more chances with the second team this weekend.
  • I have a theory on Jerry Hughes: He needs to rush the passer, off the end, without his hand on the ground. Granted it was only one play, but he blew right by Ijalana for an easy sack of Orlovsky. I mean it wasn't even close. The next three plays I was hoping for the same thing again to see if it was just a fluke. All three with hand on the ground, and all three not even a shred of pressure. They must try something different with him. Anything.
  • The Linebackers are tough to judge during practice, as it is difficult to know exactly what their job is, and where they are supposed to be, so I can't say one way or another whether they did well in drills. There was very little running, so couldn't evaluate that either.
  • I was pretty harsh on Brandon King during the game Saturday, but he had a couple nice plays last night, breaking up passes. Nobody was consistently burned, but in my opinion Jacob Lacey shouldn't be the starter opposite Jerraud Powers. Justin Tryon is a better corner, especially for this system.
  • Just as I was leaving, Jacob Tamme walked over to the fence where I had gotten off the bleachers, and started to "search" for someone to give his gloves to. He found probably a 5 year old boy, and told him that he had a horrible practice (he did drop several balls), and wanted to give him his gloves. The kid kind of hesitated a little bit, but eventually said yes, all with Tamme smiling away. I think he signed the gloves for him as well.

Sometime later this week or this weekend I'm going to write about some of the non-football stuff that goes on at Training Camp, so those of you not in the Metro area here can get a feel of what it's like. Also something from the first day I was there that was great to see, but gave me a really good sense of reality from a recent tragedy.