Sometimes, it pays to go to Colts camp and linger a little after practice - at least on those days where owner Jim Irsay is at practice. Today, Irsay was handing out $100 bills to people at training camp - a practice that isn't unusual for the generous billionaire, but one that is still very cool nonetheless. NFL Network, broadcasting from Colts camp today, captured the footage of Irsay handing out $100 bills.
I, on the other hand, missed out. The only payment I received was the reward of seeing the Colts practice - and while that's awesome in and of itself, I'd take $100 dollars too.
The Colts did hold a practice today, however, and they did have shoulder pads on today - not full pads, as was initially thought, but more than they've had the first few days of camp. I guess that the CBA rules state that you can't practice in full pads on the first three days of training camp, and the day the Colts reported (Wednesday) doesn't count toward those days. There was more contact today than in the past two days, however, though still not tackling or anything like that.
Let's jump into today's camp notebook for some observations from practice:
- DNP. There were several Colts not practicing today, but with several of them it was just a veteran's day off. This was true of wide receiver Reggie Wayne, defensive lineman Cory Redding, and offensive lineman Gosder Cherilus. Also, cornerback Loucheiz Purifoy was not practicing, though I'm not sure why. And, due to precautionary reasons, Vontae Davis, LaRon Landry, Jack Mewhort, and Trent Richardson didn't practice either. So there were a lot of guys not going today for the Colts, but the good news is that several of them were just veterans getting the day off.
- Punting. I mentioned yesterday how Cody Parkey was handling some of the kicking duties in order to keep Adam Vinatieri's leg fresh, and the Colts are doing the same thing with Pat McAfee in practice, as the team will use the jugs machine to launch punts instead of making McAfee do it all the time. I thought this was in an effort to keep McAfee's leg fresh, but it might actually be to give the punt returners a chance to practice - when McAfee was actually kicking today, the returners didn't have much chance, with McAfee either booting the punt over their heads or placing it perfectly on a coffin corner. [Before someone makes a comment, yes, I know that the Colts are indeed trying to save McAfee's leg a bit, but I know the latter is also true - they use the jugs machine to work on returning.]
- Special Teams. A few special teams lineup notes: Griff Whalen, Chris Rainey, Josh Lenz, and Tony Washington were the punt returners early in practice, and then later on in a different drill they added T.Y. Hilton and the group was without Washington, who struggled mightily today, muffing several punts. Sergio Brown and Colt Anderson appear to be the first team gunners, which should come as absolutely no surprise to anyone, but it's something to note nonetheless. Also interesting was the drill where the Colts used a soccer ball and had players bat the ball back to save it from going into the end zone, much like they would have to on a punt. Sergio Brown was clearly the best at this, as he's shown in games over the past two years as well.
- More Special Teams. As a side special teams note, I was thinking during the early part of practice that was purely special teams about how important that segment really is. For many of the players in camp with the Colts, they're going to need to impress on special teams to really stick around. So the time that they put in during practice working on special teams could be very important later on. Just a side note.
- Pat McAfee handled some field goal kicks today, with Griff Whalen holding. All four of his attempts were long ones, with the longest coming from about 65 yards out (and he made it). Overall, McAfee was 3-for-4 on the day kicking field goals from long distance.
- Adam Vinatieri also kicked some field goals today, and he was automatic. He was 7-for-7, with each kick increasing in length before he ended by drilling a 60 yard kick that would have been good from at least 65 and probably longer.
- The star of the day today? Probably Jonathan Newsome, the rookie linebacker. He was solid in the 11-on-11 work, but where he really impressed was in a drill that the Colts ran for the first time in camp today. Basically, the drill saw the running backs and tight ends trying to block linebackers, who were trying to get to a tackling dummy. Those types of drills always feature a lot of cheering and emotion, and the teammates get into it a lot. Newsome was the star of that drill, showing off some great pass rush moves as he won the battle almost every time. I know that Colts fans have been asking about him, and to be honest he hadn't done a whole lot on the first two days of camp, but today he really stood out while doing the blocking drill and he showed the pass rush skills that he was drafted for.
- WR/DB Drill. At the same time as Newsome was starring, the wide receivers and defensive backs were doing a drill in which they lined up 1-on-1 and the receiver would try to catch the ball while the defensive back would be all over the receiver, playing very physical. Because I was watching Newsome I didn't see a whole lot of this drill, but I did see two very good battles - one between Griff Whalen and Darius Butler and the other between Hakeem Nicks and Greg Toler. Both corners were very physical with the receivers, and both receivers made great plays to catch the football.
- Donte Moncrief, the rookie wide receiver, had a bit of a rough day today, struggling with a few dropped passes (I counted three). He really needs to hang onto the football, but the positive for Moncrief is that, with Reggie Wayne out, he saw significant time with the first team offense - a lot of time, actually, as the Colts were working out of a three wide receiver set often (with T.Y. Hilton, Hakeem Nicks, and Donte Moncrief). While he had a few drops, he also had several catches and got a lot of reps with the first team. So he needs to improve on the drops, yes, but it wasn't all bad for Moncrief today.
- Da'Rick Rogers. Since I've been watching Da'Rick Rogers closely in the first two days of camp, I'll share today's brief update - he still didn't do a whole lot, but it was in my opinion his best day of camp yet, easily. I had three big observations about Rogers today - 1) he made the best play he's made all camp, without a doubt. He ran a very nice, crisp route with a sharp cut, then made a nice diving catch to snag the ball. I was impressed. 2) He was working with the special teams unit early on in practice today, showing that he's willing to work on special teams to earn a roster spot too. It was hard to tell if he'd be able to help in that area, but I was impressed that he was working with the unit. 3) He had some nice routes he ran today, even thought the quarterbacks still don't seem to be looking at him to throw him the ball. He had some sharp cuts and some clean routes today, which is very encouraging, seeing as that's easily the number one thing he needs to work on.
- Hakeem Nicks had a good day today, catching several passes and playing a lot with the first team. He made some nice catches and had a few nice connections with Andrew Luck, which is another encouraging sign. Nicks seems to be improving every day I've watched him at camp so far.
- Kelvin Sheppard made a few nice plays today playing with the second team defense, including a pass deflection and a few nice stops.
- The throw of the day today came not from Andrew Luck but from Matt Hasselbeck, who had struggled a bit yesterday. He unleashed a deep pass down the left sideline toward Coby Fleener, and there was literally only a radius of a couple of yards that the ball could have gone and still been completed, since there was the sideline to the left, a safety in front, and another defender to the right/back. Hasselbeck laid it over the top perfectly and right into the arms of Fleener for a big completion.
- Arm Strength. Oh, and also, I know that when Andrew Luck came into the league there were some people who questioned his arm strength, and I wish they just could have seen this one throw from him today - Luck rolled to his left (he's a right handed quarterback, remember) and while on the run launched a perfect spiral that travelled about 60 yards in the air, though it sailed over the head of the intended receiver. The arm strength was very impressive, however.
- As a bit of a side note, I won't be at practice on either Sunday or Monday, and then Tuesday is a scheduled off day for the team. Don't worry, however, I'll still have plenty of coverage, but my live reports from Anderson University for training camp will be put on hold until next Wednesday. Just in case anyone cares.
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