The Indianapolis Colts returned to the practice field on Thursday afternoon for their second session of training camp, and it was a much better and sharper practice than it was yesterday.
In yesterday’s session there were some obvious miscues that could simply be attributed to the first day of camp, but today everyone seemed much more crisp - starting with Andrew Luck, who had a nice bounce-back performance today after a rough one yesterday.
Once again, there were some notable injuries and absences today that bear noting, so that’s where we’ll start our camp notebook.
- Injury Update. The PUP/NFI guys (Henry Anderson, Clayton Geathers, Mike Miller, and Darion Griswold) were once again watching practice today instead of participating, so there’s really no update there. T.J. Green also wasn’t practicing, as Chuck Pagano said earlier today that Green is day-to-day with a mild calf strain. The really good news with Green, however, is that even though he was in his boot he was walking fine. This is in stark contrast to how he was walking yesterday after practice, where he was moving very slowly and walking very gingerly. Also missing practice was inside linebacker Sio Moore, who also had a smaller boot on his foot. Pagano said that Moore had someone step on his toe yesterday but that the linebacker should be back tomorrow. The notable injury updates during practice involve Curt Maggitt, Pat McAfee, Hugh Thornton, and D’Joun Smith. Maggitt was being worked on by trainers early in practice and then was taken to the trainer’s tent, where he stayed for a long while. Midway through practice, however, he was then carted to the locker room - the first player to be carted to the locker room during practice this training camp. There was no immediate update on his status available after practice today. Hugh Thornton had his right ankle wrapped during practice and he knelt on the sidelines for a while, but then towards the end of practice he had the wrap removed and he stood watching drills. He didn’t return, but the wrap was taken off. We were wondering whether it was simply precautionary, but the word from the Colts is that he is still being evaluated. D’Joun Smith was down for a few minutes getting his leg worked on by trainers and it appeared to be more than just getting taped up, but he returned to practice a few minutes later - so that probably was just precautionary. And then punter Pat McAfee was noticeably absent from the entire practice with an illness.
- Andrew Luck strikes back. After a rough day of practice yesterday in which Luck misfired on a number of passes and overthrew several receivers, the quarterback rebounded today with a nice performance. The Anderson Herald Bulletin’s George Bremer charted Luck’s passes and had him as 21-for-32, including completions on each of his first six passes. His prettiest pass of the day was to Phillip Dorsett on a wheel route along the right sideline. Luck found Dorsett in the perfect spot to beat the coverage and placed the pass right over the fingertips of a jumping Erik Walden, hitting Dorsett in stride perfectly. It was a good day from Luck - he even ran and slid, which pleased the crowd - and there was really only one major miscue, which just so happened to also be the play of the day.
- T.Y. McGill 1, T.Y. Hilton 0. Believe it or not, T.Y. McGill actually has scored more “receiving” touchdowns from Andrew Luck in training camp than T.Y. Hilton has (this is no criticism of Hilton, who has been fine in camp, but rather just a fun way of noting this). Luck was throwing a dump off pass to his running back when McGill jumped the route and picked it off, returning it for a touchdown. It was an exciting play and easily the play of the day today at practice.
- Phillip Dorsett. It’s only two days in, which I understand is really early still. After all, it’s only July. But Phillip Dorsett has had a big role in camp. I’m not sure if it’s most accurate to say that he’s been the star of camp, but Dorsett has been a major factor in the offense so far. He’s been all over the place on the field and has to be among the leaders in targets (I haven’t charted that). Today, the Colts even added a reverse to Dorsett in the mix. We’ve yet to see him blow everyone away with an incredible performance in training camp, but what he has done so far is played a major role offensively. Even with Donte Moncrief’s reps apparantly being limited as he works back into things slowly, I think it’s fair to expect Dorsett’s role to continue to be significant in the regular season.
- Hugh Thornton appears to be the “first-team” right guard. Yesterday I mentioned that the Colts were rotating three players in at right guard: Hugh Thornton, Jonotthan Harrison, and Denzelle Good. Now that we’ve had two practices to pay attention to it, it does seem very much like Thornton is technically the first-team right guard. He was there for much of the walkthrough work, and he played there most of the time during team drills until leaving to have his ankle wrapped. There is undoubtedly a real competition there, but at the same time I think Thornton is the first guy up at right guard.
- Pass Rush Drill. The pass rush drill is always one of my favorites of camp, and it will be even better once the team gets in pads tomorrow. Today, there were a couple of highlights from the drill. On one play, Kendall Langford made a beautiful swim move to beat Jonotthan Harrison seamlessly - it was a perfect swim move. On another rep, Trent Cole made a great spin move inside on Joe Haeg, who was playing right tackle. Those were the two best rushes that I saw from the drill today.
- Josh Ferguson’s role. It’s early still, but Josh Ferguson’s role is something that bears watching in training camp and preseason. He has seen a handful of reps with the first team, and after making a couple of exciting plays yesterday he had another one today. There was a big hole opened up on the right side of the line and he burst through it quickly, heading downfield for a big gain. Even with pads and with tackling, that play probably would have been a good gain. Later in practice, Ferguson was getting quite a bit of work with the returners. It wouldn’t surprise me if the Colts tried lining Ferguson and Quan Bray up as the kick returners, but again, it’s early. All I know is that Josh Ferguson is versatile enough - he has made plays in the running game and the passing game and today was working as a returner - that we should keep our eyes on him.
- A couple other nice plays. There were a couple of other nice plays made today that I feel I should include but that maybe don’t warrant their own bullet-point. Frank Gore made a really nice grab on a crossing route early in practice. Donte Moncrief went up in the air and caught a football from Luck. Tevaun Smith made a very good grab on a pass from Scott Tolzien. Tevaun Smith made another catch across the middle where the defender broke it up, but Smith stayed with it to catch it. MeKale McKay had a long touchdown on a catch across the middle in stride from Tolzien. And lastly, Winston Rose had a nice pass breakup on a comeback route.
- Pads tomorrow. The Colts will be in pads tomorrow for the first time this year, so there should be an added level of intensity and physicality before an off day on Saturday.