With a 48-yard field goal by Adam Vinatieri, the Indianapolis Colts wrapped up their 2015 training camp. It was their eleventh day of work at Anderson University, and as you would expect from the last day of camp, it was a light, shortened practice.
Much of the time was spent getting ready for Sunday's preseason opener, as that led to a lot of reps for third-string quarterback Bryan Bennett. It was a rather uneventful day of work, but we still have some notes from the final practice of training camp:
- Griff Whalen saves his best for last. Griff Whalen has had a strong training camp, but he saved his best catch for the last day. Today's play of the day was clearly Whalen's touchdown catch, as he ran along the back of the end zone and hauled in a pass one handed while still managing to stay in bounds. It received a lot of cheers from his teammates, as many were shocked at the catch. Offensive coordinator Pep Hamilton just kept saying, "wow!" and as Whalen ran back over to his teammates after the catch, he had a number of players, along with Hamilton and head coach Chuck Pagano, come over to express their amazement at the catch. It was one of the best catches we saw in training camp and certainly the best play from Griff Whalen during a very nice camp for the wideout.
- The Bryan Bennett show. With a number of veterans getting the day off and with the Colts preparing for Sunday's preseason game against the Eagles, much of the workload at quarterback went to third-stringer Bryan Bennett. Andrew Luck took some reps, as did Matt Hasselbeck, but the majority of the snaps went to Bennett. If you tune into the game this Sunday, you'll see something very similar.
- Montori Hughes touchdown! Yesterday it was left tackle Anthony Castonzo, and today it was defensive lineman Montori Hughes who made it to the end zone. He tipped a screen pass near the line of scrimmage, made the interception, and then took off running to the end zone. The crowd loved it and gave him a nice cheer as he pumped his arms in the air in celebration.
- First team offensive line different for the first time. The Colts had eleven days of training camp, and for the first ten of those days the first-team offensive line was exactly the same. Today, however, it was different, as right guard Todd Herremans received a veteran's rest day. As a result, Hugh Thornton stepped in at right guard and worked there today with the first team. It's worth noting more for what it says about the first ten days than what it says about today, as the Colts are clearly committed to having their starting five linemen play together often to build continuity. Today was the first time that didn't happen when the ten-year veteran Herremans got the day off.
- Andrew Luck and Khaled Holmes continuing to work together. By this point, no one should be surprised about this: Khaled Holmes is the Colts' starting center. He's been working with the first team all camp and it's only been him, and today he was getting in extra work with his quarterback. While other players were working on the main practice field on special teams, Andrew Luck and Khaled Holmes spent some time on a side field working on snaps. Considering how important that is for a quarterback/center combo, it makes sense that Luck and Holmes are getting as much work in as possible in that area.
- Injury Update. There were a number of players who didn't practice today, but first let's begin with a few who did. Montori Hughes, who left practice early yesterday with cramps, was back out there today - and as we noted earlier, he scored a touchdown on a pick-six. Wide receiver Griff Whalen (groin) and tight end Dwayne Allen (illness) both missed yesterday's practice but were back today, as was Vick Ballard, who practiced for the second straight day. Inside linebacker Nate Irving is recovering from a knee injury and, while he's not on the PUP list, he hasn't practiced all camp. Today, he did some positional work (which was progress), but then he spent some time working on a side field with some of the other injured players. So Irving isn't back yet, but it's clear he's making progress. As far as those who didn't practice today goes, there were a lot of them. Cornerbacks Donald Celiscar, Vontae Davis (groin), and Darius Butler (groin) didn't practice, nor did wide receiver Donte Moncrief (groin) or the PUP guys (Robert Mathis and Donald Thomas). And then there were the players getting rest days, including Greg Toler, Andre Johnson, Todd Herremans, D'Qwell Jackson, Jeris Pendleton, and Bjoern Werner. Finally, wide receiver T.Y. Hilton was absent from practice today for personal reasons, the same reason he missed practice a week ago. He acknowledged yesterday that it had been an emotional weekend for him and his wife but wouldn't specify why, so hopefully everything is alright with Hilton and his family as he missed practice again today for personal reasons.