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Colts Camp Notebook: Day Nine

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NFL: Indianapolis Colts-Training Camp Indy Star-USA TODAY Sports

After a long weekend that turned out to be nothing more than a celebration of the Colts’ Hall of Famers, the team was back on the practice field at Anderson University to begin the final week of training camp.

The Colts hadn’t practiced since Friday, and today they got back to work while wearing helmets and shoulder pads. It was a good day of work that actually saw about as even of a day between the offense and the defense as we’ve seen in camp so far this year. Here’s what I noticed at practice today:

  • Griff Whalen Player of the Day award. There were plenty of good performances today, particularly when it came to the wide receiver position, so we can just go ahead and split the award among the receivers. Tevaun Smith made several nice catches (including one where he jumped and made the grab above his head on a slant), as did Chester Rogers (including a deep route along the right sidelines from Scott Tolzien). T.Y. Hilton, Donte Moncrief, and Phillip Dorsett all made plays with the first team. MeKale McKay made a few good grabs, and even Danny Anthrop caught two passes (which, even though I’m not keeping track, may have doubled his production through the first eight practices or at least come close). It was a good day for the receivers as a whole.
  • Luck’s deep ball gets going. Part of the reason it was a good day for the receivers was that Andrew Luck had a good day throwing the football and looked sharp, particularly on his deep ball. That’s very much worth noting because of the fact that, up to this point in camp, we really hadn’t seen Luck hit a lot of deep throws. He hit his first true deep ball to Phillip Dorsett of camp, and he also made a beautiful throw down the seam to Donte Moncrief, dropping it in perfectly as Moncrief brushed off T.J. Green at the point of the catch and went running to the end zone. Luck also hit Dwayne Allen on a deep fade route to the left, as he placed the football perfectly right over Darius Butler. And lest you think T.Y. Hilton wasn’t involved, Luck made a tremendous throw to Hilton on a post route - throwing the football before Hilton had even cut and still putting it right where it needed to be; and on another play, the Colts lined Hilton up in the slot (which isn’t a rare occurrence in camp), which matched him up with Darius Butler - the result was a play-action pass for a score to Hilton on a very pretty-looking throw and catch. It wasn’t the most accurate day overall for Luck - in part due to situational work, such as throwing the ball up for grabs on fourth down in a one-minute situation or working on getting the ball to the tight end in the red zone - but his deep ball was easily and by far the most accurate we’ve seen it so far in camp.
  • “Starting” defensive line. With all three starters along the defensive line missing practice today (Henry Anderson, Kendall Langford, and David Parry), there was a different starting unit. Today, the first-team was Zach Kerr at defensive end, T.Y. McGill at nose tackle, and Hassan Ridgeway at defensive tackle - keeping in line with what Chuck Pagano told us earlier today. I think that’s the correct group to have out there in this situation, but it’s worth noting that Arthur Jones was running with the second team today, which would normally be the third-team defensive line. I understand that Jones is still working his way back from injury and that he won’t be available for the first four games, but he hasn’t really been a factor in the defensive line rotation yet in training camp.
  • A win for the veteran. Perhaps the play of the day came on Luck’s only interception of today’s practice. It was in situational work in a two-minute situation, and it may even have been fourth down, so Luck just rolled around in the pocket before heaving the ball deep. It wound up being a jump ball between Phillip Dorsett and Mike Adams, and the two of them collided as they went for the ball. Adams won it and came away with the interception, which prompted Robert Mathis to yell from the sideline, “35 [years old] out-jumping 25 [years old]!” Dorsett is actually 23 years old, but we get the point. It was a great play by Adams.
  • Pass breakups. In addition to the interception, there were a couple of nice pass breakups today. Jalil Brown made one on a slant near the goal line, and T.J. Green made a diving pass breakup at the goal line on fourth-and-goal on a pass that initially looked like it would be a touchdown to Donte Moncrief.
  • Situational work. As I’ve alluded to already, there’s always a lot of situational work in practice, but today’s session included plenty of examples of it. Take, for instance, the Adams interception I already wrote about - that was in a two-minute situation. Or then down near the goal line, the Colts had a sequence in which they threw five passes to a tight end in six plays (all incomplete) - it was pretty clear they wanted to try to get the ball to the tight end there. Later in practice came perhaps the most obvious example of them all, however: there was very little time on the clock, and all the offense was trying to do was to complete a short pass and then run the field goal unit out to practice a rushed field goal attempt. On the first play, however, Dwayne Allen had an obvious drop while wide open in the middle of the field, but the coaches decided to treat it as a live situation, rushing the kicker on the field anyway. It was a flat-out drop, but it didn’t matter because what the Colts wanted to work on was the field goal part.
  • Jordan Todman. I’ve mentioned this in a previous camp notebook, but Jordan Todman has impressed in his blocking abilities. He hasn’t really done much running or receiving (which is kind of important for a running back), but then again he hasn’t had many opportunities to do so either. But I can say that he’s only player that can consistently win matchups in the RB/TE vs. LB drill, and then today he was working on a gunner drill where he consistently blocked the gunner from getting to the bag (which was acting as the returner). None of this means that Todman will wind up with a roster spot, as he has to show more as a runner and/or receiver, but his blocking continually impresses in individual drills. That’s at least worth noting.
  • Injury update. There were several players who missed practice today: Joe Reitz, Tevin Mitchel, Marcus Leak, David Parry, Robert Mathis, Patrick Robinson, Hugh Thornton, Clayton Geathers, Henry Anderson, and Kendall Langford. That’s seven starters missing practice today. The Colts expect Reitz back tomorrow, while Hugh Thornton arrived at practice toward the end with a boot still on his foot. Clayton Geathers was still in a boot as well. The only absence that was unexpected was David Parry, who appeared to have a bandage on his right shin and didn’t work at all. Chuck Pagano didn’t include him in his lengthy injury update this morning, and the Colts have decided to stop giving injury reports after practice because they don’t have to give them, so we’ll hopefully find out on Thursday (the next time Pagano talks) what’s wrong with Parry. The good injury news today? Ryan Kelly was back practicing, though his reps were limited as the Colts work him back in.