After a day off on Thursday and after a few roster moves, the Indianapolis Colts were back on the practice field today at Anderson University for their fifth practice of training camp.
It was another beautiful day outside and the Colts had a nice day of work. They were in shells (helmets and shoulder pads) today but will be in full pads again tomorrow. With that said, here's the notes from today's practice:
- Duron Carter stars. Today we saw the best single-day performance from any single Colts player in training camp so far, and it came courtesy of rookie wide receiver Duron Carter, who the team signed out of the Canadian Football League earlier this offseason. Carter was absolutely tremendous today. He caught four touchdown passes during 11-on-11 work and made some great plays. On one, he ripped the ball away from the cornerback for a score, a very impressive play, and on another he got open on a corner route for a score. His best play of the day, however, and the best play for anyone today, came on another touchdown reception. It was an overthrown pass from Matt Hasselbeck, but Carter reached up and tipped the ball back to himself, essentially grabbing it one-handed, and getting his feet in bounds for a touchdown. Carter has had a very good camp and has been looking good all week, but today he was even better and he was, without a doubt, the star of the day.
- Andrew Luck has his best day. Andrew Luck has had a very good camp, and sometimes it's easy to forget about the Colts' quarterback because of how good he always is. Today, though, Luck had his best day of a very good camp overall, throwing five touchdowns and being incredibly sharp all around. He has shown an incredible ability to perfectly drop footballs right over the shoulder and into his receiver's arms, and it has been impressive. Luck's best throw today, however (and maybe his best of camp) came on an absolutely perfect one to Coby Fleener. The tight end was blanketed by Erik Walden but Luck fired the pass right over Walden's hands and into Fleener's for a touchdown. There was an incredibly small window to throw the football into, but Luck hit that window perfectly.
- Offensive line shakeup… somewhat. For the first four practices of camp, the first team offensive line remained exactly the same and didn't change once, as it was Anthony Castonzo at left tackle, Lance Louis at left guard, Khaled Holmes at center, Todd Herremans at right guard, and Jack Mewhort at right tackle. For most of the snaps today, that was still the first team line. But today, for a few snaps, it was changed up with Hugh Thornton coming in at left guard and Lance Louis moving to right guard. I wonder if perhaps this was just to give the veteran Herremans some reps off, but either way, it was Hugh Thornton's first time working with the first team offense in 11-on-11 this camp.
- Clayton Geathers seeing a lot of reps. The rookie safety, Clayton Geathers, has been seeing a lot of reps. He has played some at safety with the second team, yes, but his biggest role has actually come at inside linebacker. This is something that he has been doing all camp, but today was his biggest role yet in practice as the Colts worked on their pass defense. Basically, Geathers was playing as the first team inside linebacker alongside Jerrell Freeman today, as the defense worked on passing situations. It appears that, when the defense gets into an obvious passing situation (such as third down), they will substitute D'Qwell Jackson for Clayton Geathers to give them another player in coverage - most likely helping to defend the tight end in the passing game, Jackson's biggest weakness from a year ago. I think it's a great idea, and Geathers was on display today and getting a lot of first team reps at linebacker.
- Chuck Pagano very involved. Owner Jim Irsay told the media on Wednesday night that head coach Chuck Pagano has been more involved with the defense this year, and that has been true so far in training camp. One day, he was seen coaching up the defensive backs and giving them tips - even to Vontae Davis. Another time he took off running after Mike Adams in celebration after an interception. Today, he was right in the middle of the action, watching as defensive backs worked all around him. I've been covering camp for a few years now and this is as much as I've seen Pagano specifically work with the defense. He still watches the offense and sees how they are doing, but he's also taking a more invested approach with the defense. Hopefully, it pays off.
- Some pass rush drill notes. Outside of the 11-on-11 drills (the closest you'll get to actual football), perhaps my favorite drill in camp is the pass rush drill, when a defender goes up against an offensive lineman (or, at times today, two defenders versus two offensive linemen). Here are a few of the notes that stood out from that drill. Firstly, Jack Mewhort continues to look solid at right tackle. He held his own in the pass rush drill and, when going up against Bjoern Werner, really looked good. If nothing else, at least Mewhort seems to have the technique down and looks good doing it. Secondly, Kendall Langford had a great swim move to get right past Todd Herremans and into the backfield - Chuck Pagano told us earlier this offseason that we'd be surprised by Langford's pass rush skills, and he did a nice job on the swim move tonight. Lance Louis, who had previously whiffed big-time on a run play in 11-on-11 that allowed Jerrell Freeman to lay a nice hit on Frank Gore in the backfield, did a nice job when going up against Arthur Jones and stonewalled him, not letting him gain much ground into the backfield. Two final notes: Montori Hughes looked very good going up against center Jonotthan Harrison and ended up drawing a few others to try to help as well. Hughes is playing as the second-team nose tackle, and that's precisely the nose tackle's job in a 3-4 scheme: to occupy as much of the linemen as possible. He did that excellently on this play. And then lastly, Trent Cole easily beat Khaled Holmes and Lance Louis inside to get past - the good news is that players like Cole likely won't be attacking the interior of the line as often but rather the outside of the line.
- Some nice opportunities for younger players. With T.Y. Hilton missing practice today and then the same with Josh Robinson and Vick Ballard, that left the door open for a few younger guys to step up. At the wide receiver position, it gave Donte Moncrief some valuable reps running with the first team, while it also helped open the door for Duron Carter's huge day. At the running back spot, it meant that we got to see Tyler Varga and Abou Torre, two players we haven't heard much from in camp. Varga made his presence felt on one play in particular, however, as he plowed ahead through several defenders, leaving Zach Kerr flat on his back and ending up with a solid gain with his tough running.
- Injury update. Running back Josh Robinson missed practice today with what was described as "soreness," while running back Vick Ballard was held out again today after tweaking his hamstring on Tuesday. The Colts are taking it slowly with Ballard, which is the smart route. Nate Irving also was not practicing again today (along with the guys on the PUP list, Robert Mathis and Donald Thomas), and wide receiver T.Y. Hilton missed practice today for what the Colts called personal reasons, an excused absence. Hopefully everything is ok with that situation, whatever it is. Finally, two players were injured during practice but both seem to be perfectly ok. Rookie linebacker Junior Sylvestre talked with trainers and then had to make his way over to the trainer's tent (it was unclear what was wrong), but after a few minutes Sylvestre returned. Rookie wide receiver Phillip Dorsett was also shaken up a bit, as after making a nice effort in an attempt to catch a touchdown he came up holding his leg, and for a few seconds the crowd grew very quiet. Dorsett got up and then tried to walk it off, though with a noticeable limp. It appeared trainers were working on his ankle, but they taped it up, Dorsett jogged it off, and then returned to practice, where he looked just like normal. So he seems perfectly fine as well.