It was the first day in pads for the Indianapolis Colts, as they were in shells (helmets and shoulder pads) after wearing just helmets for the first two practices of training camp. NFL Network and SiriusXM NFL radio were both in attendance at practice, as was super-agent Drew Rosenhaus (there because of T.Y. Hilton's contract situation).
The weather was great once again at Anderson University and the Colts got some good work in, though it was rather uneventful. I suppose that's good news, however, as there weren't any major injuries. Vick Ballard went down with a hamstring injury (more on that in a minute), but it ended up just being tightness in the hammy, though the Colts were cautious and held him out for the rest of practice. A number of veterans also got the day off practice today.
With that said, here's today's practice notes:
- Play of the day? My pick for the play of the day today actually didn't happen in 11-on-11, so perhaps that's cheating, but rather it happened in 7-on-7 drills. Andrew Luck couldn't find anyone open and so instead rolled to his left (remember, he's a right handed quarterback so rolling to his left is the more difficult one) and saw Phillip Dorsett, who was running a route across the middle, start to break open deep. Luck then threw a beautiful pass while on the run to his left that fell right into Dorsett's arms as he then took it the rest of the way for a score. It was a fantastic play by Luck, and if he can buy time like that in the regular season, Dorsett could have more plays like it as well by getting open deep.
- Donte Moncrief is having a nice camp. Several people have asked me how Donte Moncrief is doing in training camp, and I have been impressed with the second-year wideout. Probably the thing that has stood out most to me is his timing with Andrew Luck, as the two clearly seem to be on the same page and it is paying dividends in camp. Also, if the first three practices of camp are any indication, Moncrief should see a lot of playing time for the Colts this year as their third wideout, and he is showing that he can be more than just a deep threat - though he's still that as well. He seems to have improved in his route running and is being utilized in other routes more, and he's making plays. Today, for example, he ran a slant route and grabbed a ball that was thrown a bit behind him and wrestled it away from the defensive back for a catch. It's little things like that, plus his timing with Luck, that have really impressed me in camp so far.
- Another interception for Mike Adams. Last year, Colts safety Mike Adams was tied for the most takeaways in the NFL, and he's made a few interceptions in training camp already. Today, Adams and Phillip Dorsett went up for a jump ball thrown by Hasselbeck and Adams ended up coming down with the football, making a nice play on the ball for the pick.
- An update on the return game. During organized punt drills today, Phillip Dorsett, Colt Anderson, Duron Carter, Quan Bray, and Ryan Lankford, Donte Moncrief, Boom Herron, and Josh Robinson were all returning, while during kickoff drills, Phillip Dorsett, Duron Carter, Quan Bray, Ryan Lankford, and Boom Herron were fielding the kicks. Here's what I've gathered so far: the Colts seem to really like Dorsett as a returner, and I think the punt return job is definitely his to lose right now, though nothing has been made official. At kick returner, I think that Boom Herron could have a real shot there, though Dorsett is in the mix there as well.
- Frank Gore exciting the fans. It is still too hard to tell just how the offensive line and defensive line are doing, and as a result it's often hard to tell how the run game is doing, but that's not keeping the fans from getting excited about Frank Gore. The running back has drawn quite a few cheers from the crowd through the first three practices, and he has made some nice runs that deserve the cheers. He looks quick and seems to have nice vision when hitting the holes - though, again, we'll have to wait and see how effective the run game actually is once games start up at full speed.
- Adam Vinatieri still has it. The 42-year old kicker is in his 20th training camp, but today he nailed a kick from 60 yards out, and it was right down the middle. He then missed from 61 yards, but overall on the day he was 8-for-10, and his make from 60 yards was the longest of camp so far for the veteran. He's still a very good kicker, despite the fact that he's the oldest player in the NFL.
- Quarterback controversy? An interesting sight to see today was Andrew Luck taking a few reps with the second team offense and Matt Hasselbeck taking a few reps with the first team offense. Both of those periods were very short and, most of the time Luck was with the first team and Hasselbeck was with the second team, but it was still interesting to see. And no, there is no quarterback controversy whatsoever. Luck is clearly the number one and Hasselbeck is clearly the number two. This was likely just a way to get Hasselbeck some reps with the starters in case the worst case scenario happens and Luck is injured, while it was also a way to get Luck some time working with other receivers and taking snaps from Jonotthan Harrison without disrupting the continuity among the starting five linemen.
- Veteran's day off. When I first noticed that Andre Johnson wasn't running routes with the wide receivers and wasn't out at practice, I wasn't immediately concerned but it still piqued my interest. Shortly after that, however, Johnson came walking out to the practice field, along with cornerback Vontae Davis and linebacker D'Qwell Jackson. It turns out that the three were just getting a veteran's rest day, as was outside linebacker Bjoern Werner and inside linebacker Henoc Muamba.
- Vick Ballard injured - but not too badly. Vick Ballard, who has missed most of the past two seasons with injuries, was running a pass route and after he made the catch, he seemed to grab his hamstring. He went over to the trainers and they worked on his hammy, and then he stood up and walked with the trainers to another part of the field. He stood talking with the trainers for quite a while, but his body language made it clear that he was ok. He later joined his teammates to watch 11-on-11 drills and 7-on-7, though he didn't participate. It turns out that it was just tightness in his hamstring and he is fine, but the Colts held him out of the rest of practice as a precaution.
- Special teams coaches are the very active. I'm not quite sure why I'm mentioning this, but it's always fun to watch the Colts' special teams coaches during the drills. Tom McMahon and Brant Boyer have done a great job with the unit in recent years, and they're certainly having fun with it. It's not uncommon to see the coaches jumping around and yelling excitedly while the team is practicing with the kick and punt units.
- Pat McAfee the tackler? A funny moment from today's practice came via a fan's interaction with punter Pat McAfee. The special teamers were moving to the stadium field to practice kicking like they always do, and a fan yelled from the bleachers, "I want to see some tackles this year, Pat!" McAfee laughed and yelled back, "I don't!" Hopefully, for the good of the team, that's the case, as it would mean that McAfee wouldn't be put in a position to make too many tackles but rather the coverage units would do a good job once again.
- Chuck Pagano's shirt. Head coach Chuck Pagano had on a shirt supporting Eric Berry, the Chiefs safety who beat Hodgkin's lymphoma and recently returned to the field. Pagano was a great help to Berry during the process and it's cool to see him continuing to support the safety.
Chuck Pagano wearing a shirt for Chiefs safety Eric Berry, who has beat Hodgkin's lymphoma and returned to practice. pic.twitter.com/4atGDnWYtS— Kevin Bowen (@KBowenColts) August 4, 2015