Today the Colts held their first and only night practice of training camp 2013, and it was fun all around. That, of course, is what everyone is talking about today, but perhaps the most significant piece of information came from had coach Chuck Pagano this morning, when he informed us that the MRI on Darrius Heyward-Bey's knee came back negative and that the wide receiver is "day to day." Then, of course, DHB was in pads tonight and participated in drills.
There has been a lot of talk recently about DHB, who suffered a sprained left knee in Sunday's practice. Chris Mortensen said yesterday that he will miss some time, while a team spokesman informed us that contrary to reports, it wasn't serious. Will Carroll reported that he heard it was an MCL sprain, but only a grade one sprain. This morning, Pagano provided us with the news of DHB's MRI and, of course, the info that he is day to day. Then tonight, we saw him on the field. It has been pretty crazy with that story, that's for sure.
Pagano also emphasized the importance of tackling in Sunday's game as something that the team really wants to see, especially special teams tackling. He said that since they haven't scrimmaged much at all or anything like that, players haven't had a great chance to show tackling, so that is something he wants to see on Sunday.
Asked about Andrew Luck's comments yesterday about wanting to play a lot and if that will happen, Pagano simply said "no." He then added that "I'm sure someday Andrew will be calling all the shots, but he's only in his second year so we still have some say." He was kidding... kinda.
Cory Redding also spoke to the media this morning on a variety of topics, such as the difference between last year's defense and this year's defense, describing it as "night and day." Redding also weighed in on Josh Chapman, saying that he has "no struggles" and is "110 percent," adding that one of the most impressive things about Chapman is that he cherishes the double team, something most people don't, because it frees up his teammates to make plays. Redding described the defensive line's role in this defense is to "absorb people" to "keep the linebackers free" so that they make the plays, so his comments on Chapman make total sense (Redding also described the nose tackle spot as "huge".)
Redding mentioned the freedom this defense brings, as it doesn't handicap guys to just one spot, and even joked that he could play free safety and cover somebody if the coaches put him back there.
And speaking of safeties, on to the notes:
- In this morning's walkthrough, LaRon Landry and Vontae Davis switched jerseys. This isn't uncommon, as yesterday Robert Mathis and Ricky Jean Francois switched jerseys in the walkthrough as well. The funny thing was that even in a different jersey, it was easy to tell that it was Landry - he's huge and he's incredibly ripped. There's no fooling us, even when wearing a different jersey.
- Landry was not participating in tonight's practice. He was wearing sweats and a baseball cap. Chuck Pagano told us after practice that it's nothing major and that it's just a knee tweak. He will get treatment tomorrow and the Colts expect him back on the field Thursday. We saw him yesterday getting work done on his left leg in practice. We figured that it was just cramps. Who knows, really. But Pagano said that it's nothing major.
- Darrius Heyward-Bey, as the lede mentioned, participated in practice tonight. We saw him in pads on the field before it started stretching, and then he ran routes in the individual drills. That was all he did tonight. Honestly, I can't help but wonder whether DHB participating tonight was largely because of Chris Mortensen's report yesterday that he'll miss a lot of time.
- As always, I'm very impressed by Reggie Wayne's route running. I was just noticing it tonight as well - he's very, very good at that. Very good. It's really fun to watch closely.
- Andrew Luck and T.Y. Hilton have real good timing. Like, it was very impressive tonight. Both of them had stellar practices (Luck was 26/35 with 6 TDs and no picks, with 3 of the scores going to Hilton). On one play, Luck hit Hilton perfectly in stride with a perfect pass just over Greg Toler.
- Speaking of which, Greg Toler didn't have a great practice. He got burned quite a few times, it seemed - mostly by Hilton, who was running as the second receiver.
- The Colts ran a flea flicker on Luck's first attempt of practice, which went to T.Y. Hilton for a gain of 20 or 30 yards.
- The Colts had Dwayne Allen at fullback and Stanley Havili at running back on some plays. Havili actually has seen more snaps at running back than I expected (doesn't mean it's much, but there are some). He has been used in the passing game some too.
- Chandler Harnish did not have a good practice. There were some really terrible throws from him throughout practice, especially early on. One of the media members mentioned that he was practicing in front of his high school team, Norwell High School, which is quarterbacked by Chandler's brother. I'm not sure if that's the reason or if there is another one, but Harnish was very inconsistent and, when he was consistent, seemed more consistently bad than good.
- One of the best plays of practice, however, came via Harnish's arm, ironically enough. He dropped a beautiful pass right over Sheldon Price's hands into the arms of a diving Jabin Sambrano. Perfect.
- Harnish also had 2 rushing touchdowns in practice. One of the media members joked that it was the only way he could score tonight. That''s not entirely true, but again, he didn't have a great practice today by any means.
- Every time I notice Lanear Sampson, it's normally for him giving up on a route. Not saying that's all he's done, but that's when I notice him.
- One note on Griff Whalen, because a practice recap wouldn't be complete without it: he's really impressive. I think he needs to be seeing more time with Andrew Luck, however, because if they need him to step up, they don't want him to have to develop the timing on the fly. It doesn't seem to be as great right now, at least for a few passes.
- Adam Vinatieri attempted a 60 yard field goal, which was dead on accurate and went about 59 yards, maybe a bit more. It hit the middle of the crossbar and and bounced down. Still, it was impressive for Vinatieri to have that accuracy and that distance. That's one where in practice I'll absolutely take a miss, because I was happy with it still.
- Thomas Austin hasn't been too good at center, making a few bad snaps throughout practice. I think he had one yesterday as well. I think.
- This offense has a lot more check downs in it. I wasn't at camp every day last year so I can't say exactly how much more there is at this point, but from watching every game last year, I'll tell you definitively that there have been a lot more check downs in practice this year than we saw last year. And I don't think that's a bad thing, either.
- On one of those check downs, however, Kerwynn Williams had a really bad drop when he was open short in the right flat.
- Practice ended with the three quarterbacks each getting a chance at a 2 minute drill (even though they started with less than 2 minutes on the clock). Harnish went first and got 3 points for the win, having been sacked by Caesar Rayford to run the clock down to 2.7 seconds, when Harnish spiked it. Like he has done so often, Adam Vinatieri nailed the game winner. Luck went next and threw a score to T.Y. Hilton in the end zone after he had beat Toler... again. Hasselbeck's attempt ended when he was picked off by Cassius Vaughn in the end zone on a fade intended for Jabin Sambrano.
- I really don't like the fade route. Nope, I don't at all. And I've seen a lot of it the past two days.
- In Luck's 2 minute drill, he had a real short run where he slid after just a short few yards so that they could get another play off quickly. But man, Luck's slide was AWFUL. I never want to see him do that again. I'd rather him lower his shoulder like he did last year than do that. It was really awkward, with him just like falling on his ankles. Really hard to explain, but I don't want to see that again. Someone should teach him how to slide.
- Right near the beginning of practice, I noticed Joe Lefeged walk off the field and out of the stadium. A while later, he came back without pads. No idea on what is wrong.
- Good crowd tonight at practice. 7,350 is the number I heard. Largest of camp so far this year.