As has been the theme so far throughout camp, the prevailing focus at practice today was injuries.
The most serious and concerning of which was the injury to Donald Thomas, which I already wrote about here and which early reports indicate might be serious. Furthermore, T.Y. Hilton gave fans a scare when he called the trainers over after a pass, though the result ended up being just a jammed finger, so fans can breathe a sigh of relief. Of course, I was also keeping a close eye on who wasn't practicing today. That list today included Qua Cox, Loucheiz Purifoy, Josh McNary, Davin Meggett, Dwayne Allen, Vontae Davis, and LaRon Landry. We'll have more on Davis and Landry in a minute, but I wanted to say that the Colts updated the media after practice, saying that Allen was kept out for precautionary reasons.
Of course, while injuries were the main focus today (unfortunately), the Colts did have a practice (in shoulder pads), so let's dive into today's camp notebook:
- First off, however, is another injury update - this one the good kind. Running back Trent Richardson did practice today, his first action since the first day of camp. His first run in 11-on-11 drills went nowhere, and that brought out the heckling from the fanbase. "Same as last year!" one fan groaned, while another yelled out "take your sweats off!" Still another fan yelled, "there's no change!" And then even a few plays later when Richardson scored a touchdown, fans were heard yelling, "[the defense] felt bad for him!" or "he made it!!!" or "he still can't do it when it counts..." Why do I include this as part of the camp notebook? It has no impact on his on-field performance, but I think it shows the overwhelming perception of Richardson amongst fans. Sure, fans hope he is improved, but most fans are cynical toward it, and it's clear that he is going to have to really prove himself, as the pressure is already on him from the fans. Of course, he also made his best run of camp (granted, only two practices), making a very nice sharp cut to change direction and gain extra yards. If he can do stuff like that and cut like that in games, then he'll be much, much more effective already. The biggest thing for Richardson today, however, was just getting back on the field.
- Today was the day where Daniel Adongo stood out more than any other practice in camp (really, this year or last year). It started early, as before practice Adongo joined Phillip Tanner, Tony Washington, Sergio Brown, and Ryan Lankford to return kickoffs. Yes, that's right, Adongo was trying to field kickoffs. He muffed his first one, and on the second one he looked silly despite the fact that he caught it, but as it went on he looked better and better catching the kickoffs. Still, I'm guessing he won't be returning any kickoffs anytime soon... what he likely will be doing, however, is playing on the kickoff unit. He was playing on the kick coverage team some in practice today, and he was repeatedly the fastest one down the field in a sprint to the returner. Adongo's speed and athleticism was evident there, and it's just another reminder of how big of a weapon he could be. Lastly, on defense, Adongo had a few solid plays. He had a very nice play in the pass rush drill, one of my favorites. It's the same one that Jonathan Newsome starred in the other day, and it's where a linebacker is rushing trying to get to the bag (quarterback), and the tight ends and running backs are trying to block them. Adongo blew by a guy with his speed and then proceeded to get to the bag, the equivalent of a sack. It was a very encouraging day for Adongo, and while it's clearly evident that he needs more work, the athleticism and speed is obvious to anyone watching.
- Speaking of the pass rush drill, Jonathan Newsome won it once again. He made several nice moves to get the sack and it seemed like no one the Colts put out there could stop him. Again, these weren't linemen, but Newsome showed some nice pass rush moves. More encouraging signs from him.
- A few more observations from the pass rush drill... tight end Eric Swoope struggled big time as a blocker today. So did newly signed running back Phillip Tanner. And newly signed linebacker Jonathon Sharpe didn't look good rushing the passer in that drill, either. Again, one day and don't make a huge deal out of it, just saying - those guys struggled quite a bit in that drill today.
- Oh, and speaking of Eric Swoope, while he struggled as a blocker today, his progression as a tight end is noticeable each day - he keeps improving. I thought that today was easily his best day receiving-wise that I've seen him have yet this camp. He made a couple of nice grabs.
- During the wide receiver drills early in practice, the quarterbacks were working on handoffs with the running backs on another part of the field. No worry, however, because punter Pat McAfee handled the throwing duties to the wide receivers. He didn't miss a pass, and I think we might have a quarterback controversy in Indianapolis... (yes, folks, I'm completely kidding. Geez. Calm down!)
- I know people have been paying a lot of attention to the safety position, and today we really started to see the first team lineup be switched around. We saw the combination of Delano Howell and Sergio Brown, just like we've seen almost exclusively in camp so far with the first team. We also saw the combination of Delano Howell and Mike Adams, which I think is the best combination they can have when LaRon Landry isn't in there. Furthermore, we saw the combination of Sergio Brown and Mike Adams for a few plays too. The Colts really switched it up a lot today with the lineups, but it's clear that the time for Mike Adams to start getting playing time with the first team has arrived. It's still way too early to tell who will win the job (though I've been impressed with Howell the most out of the three), but one good thing that could come out of the Landry injury is that since he's missed practice, the other guys have gotten to see more reps and play together. That could be big later in the season if Landry can't stay healthy.
- Donte Moncrief just looks so smooth as a receiver. He's fast (and I expect him to be the kick returner, especially now with Chris Rainey gone) and a good route runner. He catches most passes and just looks all around natural as a receiver. He's clearly well behind T.Y. Hilton, Reggie Wayne, and Hakeem Nicks as the top three receivers, but so far I love what I see out of Moncrief from a pure talent standpoint. He just looks like an NFL receiver.
- Zurlon Tipton saw quite a bit of time at running back today, and he looked good. While again we can't tell a whole lot from the run game unless they're in full pads, Tipton ran some guys over and looked good in his running/cutting/etc. He's a guy I'm excited to continue to watch, especially in preseason when he can actually hit people.
- Bjoern Werner had a relatively quiet day compared to the first week, but that doesn't mean he wasn't impressive. In fact, he had one of the best rushes I've seen him have in camp yet, as in 11-on-11 work he just blew completely by Gosder Cherilus (should I be happy about this or not? Oh, the inner conflicts of training camp!). Werner showed his speed and burst off the line of scrimmage, easily getting by Cherilus and getting the "sack." It's especially important to note this given the most common (and accurate) criticism levied against him as a pass rusher last year was that he lacked the burst and quickness off the snap - on this one play at least, Werner quickly sprung off the snap and beat Cherilus because of that. Another encouraging sign from probably the most encouraging player of camp so far.
- Da'Rick Rogers just has so much athleticism and speed. He was running a lot of "go" type routes today and every time he just blew by the corner and always had a couple of steps on him. That's the good news. The bad news was that there were a number of times today where he and the quarterback weren't on the same page. While it very well might have been the quarterback's fault (occasionally Andrew Luck but most often Matt Hasselbeck), I'm inclined to think not given who the quarterbacks were - two smart, experienced guys. Another good sign today, however, was that Rogers caught a couple of touchdown passes.
- Lastly, a word on the injured guys (Vontae Davis and LaRon Landry) - they didn't practice today but instead came out about halfway through the practice and worked on the side field like they've done all camp (with Stanley Havili), but today Davis and Landry had shoulder pads on! Davis had his helmet on too, meaning he was in the same gear as the rest of the players who actually did practice today, and then Landry was in shoulder pads. So neither practiced, but hey, at least that's a start - get in pads. I'll have a deeper look into the Colts and how they've been handling injuries posted at some point in the next day.
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