For the first time since 2000, the Indianapolis Colts will hold a joint practice with another team this week, as they welcome the Chicago Bears to their West 56th Street complex on Wednesday and Thursday for two days of work with the Bears before their preseason game this Saturday at Lucas Oil Stadium.
More and more teams are doing joint practices as a way to get work in with another team instead of just beating up your own team for several weeks in training camp. Instead, it gives you more of an opportunity to evaluate your players than a simple practice with your own team can, and it gives you a better look at some of the ways players respond to different situations and formations they're facing.
"It's a great opportunity to go against another team in a practice session," Colts head coach Chuck Pagano said on Monday as the team prepares to practice with the Bears this week. "Obviously play them on Saturday, but the competition, you are looking forward to the competition. You get to see different bodies so to speak. Wide receivers running against different d-backs and vice versa. Schematically, you get to see a different scheme than what you see going against yourself day-in and day-out, so that's a positive. Again, just the match-ups, you get different match-ups, which is great. I'm just hoping from a weather standpoint that the rain can hold off and we get good practices in that way. It will be good. Coach (John) Fox is a great guy and they will do, both sides will, we want to be competitive, but obviously you got to be smart about it as well."
The Colts will see the new Bears coaching staff, as head coach John Fox, offensive coordinator Adam Gase, and defensive coordinator Vic Fangio will bring their squad to Indy. Of course, plenty of eyes will be on Bears quarterback Jay Cutler, but two players who we won't see are perhaps more important: it's unlikely that we will see wide receiver Alshon Jeffery, and it's certain we won't see rookie wide receiver Kevin White.
Something else we likely won't see? Fights. Chuck Pagano was pretty adamant on the fact that it doesn't have a place in practices, especially practices like these. "Yeah, that really has got no place," he said. "It’s going to be just a distraction and deter from what we’re trying to get accomplished with both teams. So, I’ve talked to Coach Fox and he’s likeminded like we are as far as you can’t tolerate it. You guys know how I feel about it. This year I talked to the guys early on and before we ever took a snap in training camp that if you fight during the game and throw a punch, you’re going to get ejected, you’re going to hurt the team, you’re going to get fined and you’re going to get thrown out of the game. So, you just can’t have it. We had one incident at camp between two players and they missed the rest of practice. We’re going to tell the guys the same thing that there’s no place for it. We want to compete at a high level, but at the same time we want to take care of each other just like we do ourselves in training camp. It isn’t about cheap shots and doing the trash talk and all that, let’s play football, let’s get better and let’s help each other get better, both teams. We carry the same message, if something happens and it gets out of hand then guys are going to miss practice time."
It should be a very beneficial time for both teams as they can get a little extra work in before their preseason game, and it should go a long way toward helping Chuck Pagano and his coaching staff determine who are the players worth keeping around, as it gives them a different look than training camp could. And that's why, for the first time under Chuck Pagano, the Colts are going to be holding joint practices this week when the Chicago Bears come to town a few days early.