The Indianapolis Colts held their final afternoon practice of training camp today as they took the practice field at 1:55 p.m.
It was a shorter practice, as the Colts headed inside shortly before 3:30 due to storms. The looming threat of the storm was hanging over practice all day, but it held off until 3:30. The Colts were proactive about their practice plan as a result, however, as it seemed like they went to team drills earlier in practice and stayed with it for quite a while. That was likely because they knew that they could do some of the individual drills and walkthrough stuff when they went inside to the gym, but not the 11-on-11 stuff. If that was really the Colts’ thinking behind it (and it seemed to be), that was smart.
So while it wasn’t as lengthy of a practice, there’s still plenty to note.
- Some beautiful throws. There were, as always, some beautiful throws today from Andrew Luck. One was in individual drills with the quarterback throwing to a receiver with one defensive back on him, and Luck placed the football perfectly as he threw it right over Dezmen Southward and into Phillip Dorsett’s hands in the end zone. A little later in practice during team stuff, Luck found T.Y. Hilton in the pocket between four defenders and put just enough touch on the throw to get it to Hilton for a nice gain. Even Scott Tolzien got in on it, as he made a beautiful throw to drop it in perfectly in stride to Tevaun Smith.
- Miscommunication with Moncrief? Luck’s only major miscue of the day came on his lone interception. He threw it across the middle of the field and there was no receiver in the area, as Darius Butler just had to sit and wait for the pick. It appeared Luck was throwing to Moncrief, but it was evident that it was probably miscommunication. It’s unclear who’s fault that was, but it was an ugly-looking play. But here’s the thing: it’s much better for the miscommunication to happen in practice and then for Luck and Moncrief to get on the same page than for the miscommunication to happen in a game. That’s what practice is for, so the key is simply taking that mistake and making sure it doesn’t happen again.
- Getting tricky with the offense. There was a stretch in practice today when the Colts were working on some trick plays - a segment of practice I called “plays you’ll probably never see in a game.” Earlier in practice in the individual drills, the Colts practiced a couple of flea flickers. Then when they got to team drills, they ran some direct snap plays to Frank Gore, as Andrew Luck split out wide. After that, Scott Tolzien and Stephen Morris both came in with the twos and Tolzien split out wide while Tolzien ran some read option plays. Again, I doubt we’ll see those plays in an actual game, but the Colts are working on them and putting them in the back of the playbook just in case they need them.
- Luck and Ferguson. I feel like I’ve mentioned Josh Ferguson’s role quite a bit, but today I’ll add something besides just the fact that he’s been getting a lot of reps with the first team. For most of training camp, Ferguson has taken the individual drill reps with Andrew Luck. Here’s what that means: when the Colts are doing individual drills, it involves things like the quarterbacks handing off to the running backs and the quarterbacks throwing routes with receivers. Andrew Luck always makes sure to work with the usual suspects: T.Y. Hilton, Donte Moncrief, Phillip Dorsett, Dwayne Allen, and Frank Gore. That makes sense, as Luck will be working with those guys the most. But when watching practice, you get the feel for how Luck makes sure to work with those guys on the individual work. Here’s what’s interesting: Since very early in camp, Luck has been working with Josh Ferguson in the individual work. He’ll take the first rep with Frank Gore, then step aside while Scott Tolzien and Stephen Morris work with the other running backs. Then, when Josh Ferguson comes up, Luck gets back in and runs the rep with him. I watched this specifically today to see if it was more than a coincidence, and I’m convinced it is: it’s been happening since early in camp, and it’s been happening pretty much every single time. When you add that in with all of the first team reps Ferguson has been getting in team drills, it really makes you stop and think about his role moving forward.
- Getting Palardy up to speed. The Colts signed Michael Palardy last weekend because Pat McAfee tweaked his knee last week, meaning Palardy would have handled the punting duties in Sunday’s game. McAfee was dressed in full pads today, but the team did limited special teams work. Instead, at one point the specialists were working on a side field with Palardy getting him up to speed... on holding. He held for Adam Vinatieri yesterday on field goals, and it appeared that there were a couple of misplayed holds, so today Matt Overton, Adam Vinatieri, Pat McAfee, and Tom McMahon all lined up and took turns throwing Palardy a football like a snap, doing so rapidly and helping him get the motion down for holding on a kick. It’s unclear when or even if that will be needed in a game, but better safe than sorry.
- Injury update. The usual guys, Henry Anderson and Clayton Geathers, were both once again out today, as were Tevin Mitchel, D’Joun Smith, Abou Toure, and Hugh Thornton. Thornton once again has a boot on his right foot, and it’s getting to the ridiculous stage, considering both his injury history and the fact that we haven’t been led to believe it’s anything serious. Thornton entered training camp needing to impress in order to win a starting spot; he’s getting ready to leave camp with his roster spot very much uncertain. Marcus Leak returned to practice today after a week of sitting out, but after doing a few individual reps early in practice he then stopped working and went to a side field. So while he was dressed and began to work, he didn’t do much at all. Patrick Robinson was also in full pads and was working on a side field, but late in practice he entered in to 11-on-11 work for some work. The good news for the Colts was that they got two starters back today, as David Parry and Joe Reitz both returned. Reitz had been out a few days with a groin injury but was expected to return today, and Parry missed yesterday’s practice with an unknown injury (he had a bandage on his right shin).
- Jack Doyle absent as well. Doyle missed practice, but it wasn’t due to an injury. According to Colts.com’s Kevin Bowen, Doyle and his wife welcomed the birth of their first child today, a boy. That’s a great reason to miss practice, for sure. Congrats to Jack and his wife on the birth of their son!
- Wrapping camp tomorrow. The Colts will wrap up their 2016 training camp tomorrow as they return to the practice field for the final time. They will practice at 8:30 a.m., and it’s typically a very laid-back practice that goes quickly, as everyone wants to get out of there. So honestly, today was the last full day of Colts camp. They’ll wrap things up tomorrow and then get ready for their preseason opener on Saturday against the Buffalo Bills.