Looking at the radar it wasn't exactly promising, but the Indianapolis Colts were back on the practice field on Sunday afternoon and the rain held off. The Colts worked in shells today (helmets and shoulder pads) after being in full pads yesterday, and they will return to full pads tomorrow.
It was a good day of work for the Colts despite the fact that many veterans rested today, but that provided an opportunity for some of the younger players and backups to get more reps. And, to top it all off, we had a fight that got two players sent to the locker room by head coach Chuck Pagano.
Let's jump in and get to today's practice notes:
- Fight! Perhaps the highlight of practice - at least for the fans from an entertainment standpoint - came towards the end when there was a fight. The offensive and defensive linemen have gotten into it in the past few days and we've seen a few scuffles, but today center Jonotthan Harrison and defensive lineman Kelcy Quarles really got into it. They took each other to the ground and then a fight ensued, with a large group of players quickly surrounding them - it was hard to tell, but I'm sure most were trying to break it up. The referee came running over blowing his whistle, and coaches also came running over trying to break it up. And they didn't sound too happy about it, either. They quickly sent Harrison and Quarles to the locker room, essentially ejecting them, to help drive home the point that fighting won't be tolerated.
- 17 players sit out of practice. Of the 90 players on the Colts' roster, I counted 17 players not participating in practice today. Darius Butler, Vontae Davis, and Duron Carter are dealing with groin injuries and therefore didn't practice, while Denzelle Good didn't practice again today (he didn't yesterday either) with a shoulder injury, but Chuck Pagano expects him back at some point this week, whether it's Monday or Wednesday. He was working on a side field today. Josh Robinson has been nursing a sore hamstring that has kept him out for a few days, and while he had a helmet today, he was only working on individual work on a side field. Vick Ballard is still out with his hamstring injury as the Colts are taking it easy with him, and then the Nate Irving, Robert Mathis, and Donald Thomas all weren't going today either, as has been the case all week, while Tevin Mitchel - the corner the Colts claimed from the Redskins a few days ago but who might miss the season with an injury - didn't work either (which was absolutely no surprise). Justin Sinz (ankle) and Junior Sylvestre (who had a big wrap on his left knee but is officially diagnosed as a hamstring) didn't practice either, though there's not much of an update on them. Lastly, Andre Johnson, D'Qwell Jackson, Bjoern Werner, Jeris Pendleton, and Henoc Muamba all appeared to be getting a rest day. Because of all of the players injured and/or getting the day off today, it provided a great opportunity for depth players to get significant work in practice. Even Matt Hasselbeck - who was still working today and still was dressed in his helmet and shoulder pads - seemed to get a bit of a rest day today, as third-string quarterback Bryan Bennett saw a lot of reps today with the second-team offense.
- Wide receiver position isn't just very good, it's very deep. We've been talking all camp so far about the impressive performances by wide receivers T.Y. Hilton, Andre Johnson, Donte Moncrief, Phillip Dorsett, and Duron Carter, and there has been talk about whether the Colts have the best five-deep receiver position of any team (I'd sure take them over any other receiving corps, that's for sure), but it goes deeper than just the top five. Take, for example, Griff Whalen. I know that many on this site might be tired of hearing about Whalen, but my guess would be that most of those people haven't seen him in training camp. I'm not saying that takes precedence over actual games and I'm not saying that Whalen is great, but it does show why the Colts keep working with him. He is always in the right spot, always giving maximum effort, and always seeming to make plays. He's still very much on the roster bubble and competing for the sixth wide receiver spot, but that's more about the depth at the position than anything else. Today, undrafted rookie Quan Bray also had a very impressive day, making a couple of nice catches, including a touchdown catch in the end zone. Bray had a nice showing today, and here's the thing - he's likely the eighth wideout on the depth chart, at best. The Colts have some great players at the position, but they also have great depth that has been very evident so far in camp.
- Andrew Luck in complete control of the offense. We talk all the time about how impressive Andrew Luck is on the field with his play, but he's also showing that he's in complete command of the offense. Today was as great of an example of that as any, as during both drills and 11-on-11 work Luck was helping people know what they were doing and helping rearrange them in the right place. Luck absolutely knows what he's doing out there and is taking a more active role in making sure others know what they're doing as well.
- Chuck Pagano very active with defensive backs. We have mentioned a few times already in training camp how Chuck Pagano is more involved with the defense this year, and today was just another example of that. Today, during drills in which wide receivers went up against cornerbacks, Pagano would give pieces of advice, feedback, and encouragement to every player after every play. On one instance, it was telling Jalil Brown "don't wait on it" after he should have had a pick but allowed a receiver to break it up. On another instance, it was telling rookie D'Joun Smith what to do differently after getting beat. That was something Pagano was doing for every player after every play during this drill, and that's cool to see. Developing defensive backs has been one of this coaching staff's biggest strengths, as Vontae Davis, Darius Butler, Mike Adams, Sergio Brown, and others have all enjoyed career years with the Colts. Seeing how involved Chuck Pagano - a former defensive backs coach - is with his DBs helps understand why.
- Jalil Brown standing out. One of the defensive standouts after a week of training camp has been cornerback Jalil Brown, who seems to have a firm hold on the battle for the number five cornerback spot. Brown has made several nice plays in making interceptions, and he has been very impressive. Today, he allowed a short completion to Donte Moncrief but then made a nice play to strip the ball, pick it up, and then take it back the other way. Brown has continued to make plays over and over and has been a real standout.
- A few other notes. There's a few other notes from practice today that I want to point out. Tight end Erik Swoope had a rough day today, as he had three drops (that I counted). He hasn't done anything in camp to make himself necessary, as Chuck Pagano would say, so it's looking more likely that the Colts only keep three tight ends - though there's still time for Swoope or anyone else to change that. Secondly, Matt Hasselbeck had his best throw of camp today when he threw a perfect pass right over Carlos Fields and into Sean McGrath's hands for the touchdown. It was a beautiful throw that was placed right where it needed to be. Thirdly, Zack Hodges made a nice play in getting a fumble and returning it for a score - something that excited the rest of the defense and the fans. Fourth, Adam Vinatieri had a great day today, as he missed his first one (it was as close as could be on a miss) but then hit his last ten, including one from 58 yards out. And lastly, perhaps the play of the day came from tight end Jack Doyle, a fan favorite who has done a very good job as the number three tight end for the Colts. He made a nice adjustment on a back shoulder throw by Andrew Luck in 7-on-7 drills, as he turned his body around, stretched out, and hauled in a pass along the sidelines for a completion. It was a very nice play from Doyle.