The Colts held their final practice in advance of Sunday’s preseason opener, as they took the field at Anderson University once again.
Today’s practice schedule was thrown off due to the weather, as rain and perhaps thunderstorms are expected later this afternoon. That prompted the Colts to move practice up to 11:00 a.m., but either way it wasn’t ever going to be an intense practice.
The team was in helmets and shoulderpads today and it was, for the most part, a pretty dull practice. Again, that’s to be expected two days before a game, but there are still a few things worth mentioning in today’s notebook.
- Griff Whalen Player of the Day award. It was hard to determine who the best player was today. Was it Andrew Luck, who was continually cheerleading and encouraging other guys when he wasn’t in? Was it Ryan Kelly, who was sprinting and running more on a side field than any of the players actually practicing were? Both are good choices, but let’s give it to Pat McAfee today, as he tripled his workload in camp in this practice. The team did way more punting work than they had done previously, and McAfee was the one doing the kicking - often times it was directional kicking, too. Then later on, he was the one who handled the field goal duties (the first time in camp he’s done that), and he made 6-of-8 kicks. He missed from around 58 yards out on a kick that had the distance but was just barely wide right. Overall, though, McAfee got as much work as anyone today and performed well.
- Play of the Day. Again, there weren’t too many highlight plays today because the tempo was slowed down so much (guys were going three-quarters speed it seemed), but one play easily stood out among the others. T.Y. Hilton ran a deep crossing route over the middle and beat his man, and Andrew Luck saw him. Hilton caught the pass with one hand before then bringing his other hand to the ball to secure it. It was one of the most impressive catches we’ve seen in camp so far.
- Slowed down day. To better illustrate my point about everything being slowed down today, I’ll point out two plays in particular. On one, Luck just stood in the pocket while the defenders made a half-hearted effort to get there, and then Luck started semi-sprinting out of the pocket. It likely would have been a sack in a game, but Luck threw the ball on the run and hit Hilton perfectly in stride down field (even though Hilton was jogging, as were the defensive backs). It was an impressive throw by Luck, but the play itself wasn’t as much so. On another play later in practice, Luck just ran around in the pocket looking for someone to throw to, and Zach Kerr would have had a sack in a game. It wasn’t blown dead, however, and so at the same time you had Kerr celebrating his sack and Luck still looking to throw to a receiver, though no one was really running full-speed (Luck found Dwayne Allen for a touchdown).
- Curt Maggitt. I mentioned this yesterday in my notebook, but I wanted to expand upon it/confirm it today: I think the Colts are working with Curt Maggitt as a strongside outside linebacker behind Erik Walden. Yesterday, Maggitt stayed with the skill players to do 7-on-7 work while the pass rushers went to do a pass rush drill. That was the first indication, and then today during 11-on-11 work Maggitt was working as the second-team strongside backer while Ron Thompson was in at the rush spot. I don’t know if this is something the Colts plan to continue or if they’re just trying it out, but it makes sense: they have several young, developmental pass rushers but no one to play behind Walden, so working someone else at the spot is a smart thing to do.
- Offensive line lineups. It’s possible that on Sunday we’ll see just two of the five “starting” offensive line (at least based on the depth chart), as center Ryan Kelly has been ruled out and Hugh Thornton and Joe Reitz both didn’t practice today with injuries. Of course, I think Denzelle Good has overtaken Thornton as the frontrunner at right guard, but either way the lineup up front won’t exactly be the same as it will be in week one. Based on the first team line today (with Reitz, Thornton, and Kelly out), it was Anthony Castonzo, Jack Mewhort, Jonotthan Harrison, Denzelle Good, and Joe Haeg. Chuck Pagano said after practice that they will play Haeg at both tackle and guard on Sunday.
- Josh Ferguson. I never want to make too much of what we see in training camp, but at the same time I want training camp to inform what I keep my eyes on specifically in a game. And I’ll tell you this much: you should keep an eye on Josh Ferguson. Over the past two days, he has taken more first team reps at running back than anyone else. Obviously Frank Gore is being limited (rightfully so), but Ferguson in each of the past two days has been the first team back with Robert Turbin then working with the second team. The Colts have been rotating and so it’s not that Ferguson is working exclusively there, but he’s seen more reps than anyone. It also seems that each day he makes one or two plays that shows off his abilities, and today it was via a nice run and a catch in the flat on an out route. What I’m not saying is that Josh Ferguson is the number two running back right now, but what I am saying is that he’s been getting a ton of work as such recently.
- Injury update. There were a number of players sitting out of practice today: Henry Anderson (PUP), Darion Griswold (PUP), Clayton Geathers (NFI), Ryan Kelly, Joe Reitz, Hugh Thornton, Marcus Leak, Tevin Mitchel, D’Joun Smith, Josh Boyce, Arthur Jones, Kendall Langford, and Robert Mathis. Mathis got a rest day, and then we received a general “day-to-day” label from Chuck Pagano on the others after reading a list of players we were wondering about. There are a few other notes to make, however. Firstly, Ryan Kelly has been ruled out for Sunday’s game, and while Pagano didn’t specifically rule anyone else out, he gave the impression that it wouldn’t be just Kelly sitting out. Secondly, Hugh Thornton today had a boot on his right foot and didn’t practice. My guess is that’s more precautionary than anything as the Colts play it safe with him in his recovery, but we’ll see. And thirdly, Kendall Langford was nowhere to be seen at practice, as he wasn’t even out on the sidelines like the other injured players. Pagano said after practice that Langford is still being evaluated by team doctors. That is certainly an injury to keep an eye on because of how good Langford is.
- Weekend schedule. Since the Colts moved practice up to start late morning, the team will have meetings this afternoon and then will do a walkthrough tonight since they missed the walkthrough in the morning. They will head to Indianapolis and catch a flight to Canton tomorrow morning and do another walkthrough. The Hall of Fame ceremony is obviously Saturday night, and then the Colts will take the field on Sunday night. They will then have a day off on Monday before returning to the practice field at Anderson University on Tuesday for the final few days of camp.