The Colts today held their final open practice before their preseason game on Sunday against the Buffalo Bills. Of course, despite a morning walkthrough and an afternoon practice, the biggest news of the day is clearly Dwayne Allen's injury. While we don't know much more than we did yesterday (he has a sore foot), we do know that he went for a second opinion and that the team is awaiting those results. A second opinion is never good. For a real brief update on that, head here.
Much of the talk today other than Allen centered around the fact that the Colts are preparing for an actual game this Sunday. Defensive coordinator Greg Manusky was asked how much to expect his starting defense to play, and he answered by saying that it "depends on who the starters are." In other words, certain players will play more than other players (for example, outside linebacker Robert Mathis will likely not be playing as much as the other starting outside linebacker, Erik Walden).
Offensive coordinator Pep Hamilton deferred the question, saying "that's Coach Pagano's decision." He said later that "it's just football" and that they'll be ready to play. Reggie Wayne called it "business as usual" and that "I take [preseason games] very seriously." Andrew Luck said that he expects to play about as much as he did last preseason... but don't count on that happening. Not a chance. He said that "you want to go out and win anything you do," even mentioning board games as an example.
Luck, asked about the offense's potential, responded, "I hope we haven't reached our potential... I do think we're on the right track." Reggie said that "I wouldn't say the target is on our chest, but I will say that they know we're coming." He conceded that other teams will take them more seriously this year but that he "wouldn't say we're the hunted just yet, but we're in the field." He quickly added that he's not complaining about not having a target on them.
One more note from Reggie, this one on blocking (which he had to do quite a bit more of last year than in the past): "Whatever you need me to do. If you need me to turn 87 into 78, then I'll block."
There wasn't much eventful going on today at practice. It was a shortened practice and a light atmosphere with just shells and not full pads. But even considering all of that, we still have some notes from today's practice:
- Darrius Heyward-Bey was running very well and looked great doing it, running routes and catching passes. T.Y. Hilton still saw a lot of the first team reps and DHB isn't going to play Sunday (ok, not official, but I'm confident he won't), so it makes sense. But DHB looks good and looks healthy. He still has his knee wrapped, but if he didn't have that, you wouldn't even know he was hurt.
- Larry Asante and Sergio Brown were both back at practice today. We don't know whether they will play on Sunday, but the fact that they were out there today and that the safety position DESPERATELY needs help right now for Sunday's game could suggest that they may. LaRon Landry hasn't been ruled out either, but with him not practicing today yet again, I don't see any reason to play him. None.
- Cassius Vaughn wore a camera on his helmet today. I don't know about you, but I think I'd get annoyed having it on the side of my helmet. But they weren't hitting today, so I guess it's not that big of a deal. There will be pictures up on Colts.com later, I guess. So check there if you're interested in that kind of stuff.
- This offense really does move around a lot into different looks. Vick Ballard will even go out wide at times. Another bit of info on the offense, Pep Hamilton said this morning that the offense is pretty much in in it's entirety.
- Darius Butler had a nice pass broken up from Matt Hasselbeck intended for Griff Whalen. Butler has had a nice past two days of camp.
- Reggie Wayne has tremendous hands. He's good. He makes difficult catches seem easy. Nothing new here, just something I noticed today yet again.
- LaVon Brazill had the catch of the day, making a great snag away from Cassius Vaughn on a slant. It was a real nice catch by Brazill, and he followed it up by beating Vaughn on a fade route for another catch on the next play.
- The offensive players and defensive players were getting into it, as they were each on an opposite sideline and were cheering their unit on in 11-on-11. It was the most into it I've seen them get this week during practice.
- There was a beautiful play right near the goal line - Josh Gordy immediately got into the backfield as Matt Hasselbeck was turning to hand it off to the fullback, but it was a play action and he turned and pitched it real quick to Kerwynn Williams to the right, who took it in for a score. Gordy went for the fullback, and that wasn't a bad thing either - it was a great play design and the players sold it really well.
- I really feel for Chandler Harnish. He has looked pretty inconsistent in camp so far, but it's hard to tell whether that's his fault or not. Sure, he's at least partly to blame, but that third team offense is doing him absolutely no favors at all. There was a stretch of three plays in a row when he was doing the 11-on-11 drills that there were plays where I thought his receiver probably should have caught it. He's inconsistent, yeah, but he's not getting much help either. He should get a lot of playing time Sunday, so we should be able to see better then.
- Bjoern Werner left this morning's walkthrough early and then missed this afternoon's practice with what Chuck Pagano described as a "sore knee." Pagano expects him to play on Sunday.
- Players who missed practice today with injury: Dwayne Allen, LaRon Landry, Hugh Thornton, Khaled Holmes, Jerrell Freeman, Teddy Williams, Dan Moore, Josh McNary, Joe Lefeged, Mario Harvey, and Bjoern Werner. After practice, Chuck Pagano ruled Allen, Thornton, Holmes, and Freeman out for Sunday's game. He wouldn't say definitively on others, saying that the team is going to wait and see.
Check back tomorrow morning for an "Indianapolis Colts versus Buffalo Bills Preseason Primer", complete with everything you need to know to get ready for Sunday's preseason game. And of course, when we find out more on Dwayne Allen we'll let you know. The Colts return to Anderson on Tuesday to begin their final week of training camp with the regular schedule of a closed 9:30 walkthrough and an open 1:50 practice (subject to change).