It's hard to believe that today was the last full day of camp. Today the Colts held their normal closed walkthrough at 9:30 and an open practice at 1:50. It is the last time that they will do that until training camp starts next year, as tomorrow is just a morning practice at 10:30 and then after that everyone leaves.
We're almost done with camp, and while that means a more restricted look at this team daily, it also means that we're closer to the games that actually count.
And as we get closer to those games, the playing time of the starters in the preseason will increase. Chuck Pagano said this morning that the starters are definitely going to play more this Sunday and that it could even be the entire first half, depending on how the game goes. He said about 25-30 snaps is a rough estimate, and that he would really like to get Andrew Luck in a two-minute drill.
Honestly, and I don't know for sure, but I wonder if the decision to set the goal at an entire half for Sunday (and remember, the number of plays matters a lot more than quarters or drives) is at least partly influenced by Jim Irsay's tweet on Sunday. I believe that Irsay did indeed talk to Pagano (note, Pagano only said they didn't talk on Monday but was never asked about Sunday) and just from being around camp this week you can tell that it hasn't just died down. I mean, Pagano and Robert Mathis both were asked about Irsay's tweet today, and Pagano and Andrew Luck were both asked about it on Tuesday as well. Things like that just don't go away, and I really hope that Jim Irsay realizes that. You can say what you want about whether he was right or not, but with him saying that it creates an issue that lasts at least a week, and possibly longer. I hope he considers that very closely before tweeting next time.
On a different note, Pagano also covered a variety of other topics. He said that Khaled Holmes, Hugh Thornton, Pat Angerer, and Ahmad Bradshaw won't play Sunday, and when asked specifically about LaRon Landry, he said that if he didn't practice today, he probably won't play. And, he didn't practice, so don't expect Landry to be out there either.
Pagano was also asked about the possibility of brining in another tight end for Sunday's game, as Coby Fleener has yet to be cleared to play in a game and his status for Sunday is uncertain. Pagano said that they're always looking and that "you know Ryan [Grigson] never sleeps." He added that the goal is not for Justice Cunningham and Dominique Jones to have to play 70 snaps, which would suggest that they may indeed bring somebody in, because he also added that ideally they wouldn't like to keep playing offensive linemen at tight end.
Pagano commented on punter Pat McAfee when asked today and said that Pat is as focused as he has ever seen him and that he could be even better in 2013 than he was in 2012 (which, I may add, was great). He said that statistically, going back a decade, when teams have to drive 70 or 80 yard fields they only score touchdowns 15-16% of the time, so McAfee plays a big role in pinning teams deep. He added that the Colts were without their two gunners from last year (Joe Lefeged and Sergio Brown) on Sunday and that by getting them back the special teams coverage should improve a lot. He made a very valid point in that a lot of special teams guys are linebackers or defensive backs, and the Colts had a lot of injuries there on Sunday.
Lastly, Pagano talked about Daniel Adongo and about how he is very pleased where Adongo is at right now. He said that "the guy is starting to get it" and that he is a fast learner, but added that he doesn't know whether Adongo will play this year. Pagano noted that the team initially brought him in to play offense and that his hands and hand-eye coordination was impressive in his workout, and I have wondered at times too whether the best thing would be just to get him the ball and let him run over people. But the coaching staff has a plan and Pagano likes where Adongo is at right now.
Robert Mathis also talked this morning for the first time in a while, and of course, one of the first things he covered was his move on Anthony Castonzo yesterday (which, if you haven't seen it yet, go here and go to about the 2 minute mark. You won't be disappointed). He said that he came up with the move about 9-10 years ago and wanted to show Castonzo that "the old man has still got it."
Mathis also said that he didn't see the league's face mask ruling coming but that he doesn't want it to be a distraction and will accept the ruling. He said that he got the idea for the design from Ray Lewis' face mask.
He said about the defense that "the guys they [Ryan Grigson and co.] brought in, they brought them in for a reason" and that "nobody's trying to replace anybody," meaning that everybody is just trying to do what they can do. Immediately, everybody thinks of Erik Walden "replacing" Dwight Freeney, and I honestly think that's what Mathis was referring to in particular.
Mathis said that he has taken a leadership role on this team and that he is kind of the leader of the defense. He said that their defense is "gelling as a unit" this camp and that "we're going to make a lot of people proud of us."
I hope so. I hope so.
Here are some notes from the last afternoon practice of training camp 2013:
- Dwayne Allen looks good. Like, he looked healthy enough to be out there participating in practice today. Of course, though, he wasn't, and he still has a boot on is right foot. But Allen was out there on the side catching passes (even jumping to get some of them) and just hanging out. He was having a great time out there. In the drill where the receivers run routes at the same time and everyone gets a pass anyway (mainly trainers throwing to them with a quarterback too), Allen was throwing passes. When the offense was in the huddle, Allen was right there listening to what Luck was saying. He was very involved today and that was good to see. Still, don't expect to see him anytime soon, but that is very encouraging news.
- Joe Lefeged was reinjured in today's practice. All I saw was him limp off the field after a kickoff. He had his right knee pretty heavily wrapped and then not too much later the wrap was gone, but Lefeged didn't come back to practice and he left early on a golf cart. A team spokesman said it is a strained calf for him.
- LaRon Landry did not practice today. In fact, he came out to the field very late and went into the trainer's tent to get iced. Pagano said this morning that if he wasn't practicing today, he probably wouldn't play Sunday. I see no way he plays and I see no reason to play him right now.
- The special teams unit could be improved on Sunday just by the fact that they are starting to get guys back healthy.
- I hadn't seen Josh McNary at all in the past few days but today I saw him come out there late with the injured guys. He didn't practice today either. I have been impressed with him in camp, but if he's not playing in games, he won't be able to prove himself.
- Darrius Heyward-Bey had another nice day of practice. According to George Bremer, he led the starters with 4 catches from Luck in team drills. I only saw one questionable one where a pass went through his hands in individual drills, but I'll take that any day if he has the type of practice he followed that up with.
- Matt Hasselbeck throws a really nice deep ball. He went deep several times today and usually was spot on accurate. On one throw he laid it in perfectly in LaVon Brazill's hands in stride just over a defender for a score. It was impressive.
- Dominique Jones made some nice catches today. I think he has quietly had an impressive camp. With the injury to Allen and then Fleener's status for Sunday up in the air (he is practicing but not yet cleared for game action), Jones could get a great opportunity and he needs to make the most of it.
- The Colts were pumping in crowd noise today to get ready for the game in New York.
- Sergio Brown made a nice interception off of Chandler Harnish.
- Andrew Luck made a really nice play where he went through his progression and couldn't find anybody open, then stepped up and avoided the pressure, rolled right and found Coby Fleener on a comeback route at the 2 yard line for a completion.
- Speaking of that, one of the hidden things that not many people watch is route running. It's becoming less prominent I think and that's why guys like Reggie Wayne (who is tremendous at it) are even more impressive. That said, one of the hidden aspects of route running is the depth of the route, and in particular making sure that your route is in the end zone or past the first down marker. I have seen a lot of times this camp where receivers' routes are run a few yards too short of the intended marker, whether it be the first down marker or the goal line. I'm not just singling out Fleener's instance today, but it just reminded me of something I have been seeing all camp.
- Honestly, it amazes me that Lanear Sampson is still on this team. He cannot find the football when it's in the air whatsoever and has shown that repeatedly throughout camp (and in the preseason game on Sunday as well).
- Want to know why training camp is often times hard to analyze? It's because we often can't get an accurate picture. Let me give you an example. Today there was a play where Stanley Havili sneaked out of the backfield into the left flat, Luck rolled right and spun and threw a sort of jump pass across the field to Havili, who then took it the remaining few yards into the end zone. But here's the thing: that pass is likely not complete in a game setting. Vontae Davis would either have jumped it and taken it back for a score the other way or would have nailed Havili right as he was catching it, likely forcing an incompletion. But today, with the team in shells and it being his own team, Davis couldn't really do anything but try to touch Havili down. Often times, training camp analysis needs to be looked at through that perspective too - would that actually have happened if this was live?
- Speaking of Vontae Davis, he dropped a fade route in the end zone. I mean, he had it right in his hands and then should have had it on the juggle after that. Luck under threw Reggie Wayne on a fade route and it was right in Davis' hands (who had good coverage).
- Have I mentioned before that I hate the fade route? And the Colts run it a lot in camp. Ugh.
- LaVon Brazill has quietly had a very impressive camp as well. He is catching the passes thrown to him and is getting a lot of reps with the second and third team offenses. He's a talented receiver, unfortunately he's suspended for the first four regular season games. But with how the receivers have looked outside the top five, his spot is becoming more and more secure.
- Speaking of that top five, Griff Whalen was still not practicing today with a groin injury, but he did hold for Pat McAfee's field goals. I don't know why. That seems really, really stupid to me. He has a groin injury, so you have him hold for field goals? Doesn't make sense, but after all, he is the Griffer. He's a trooper and he is making himself "necessary."
- Practice ended after Lawrence Guy and Gosder Cherilus got into it several yards behind the line of scrimmage after a play. Chuck Pagano called everyone to the middle of the field and we were wondering whether he was just talking to them about the chippiness recently, but nope. Practice was over and they ended it about 15 minutes early. And no, I don't think it had anything to do with the "fight", but you never know.
- One of the most impressive things you will ever see is Reggie Wayne catching 8 yard bullets right on the nose of the football one handed from the jugs machine. He makes it look easy. Ridiculous. Just plain amazing.
- Right after Reggie was done, Darius Butler stepped up and the ball went right through his hands on the first one. Nothing to worry about or anything, just funny timing.
Well, that's a wrap on day fourteen of training camp. The Colts return to the field tomorrow morning at 10:30 A.M. to wrap up training camp with their final practice at Anderson University.