Returning to the Colts Complex, I was looking for some reinforcement from what I noticed on Tuesday in order to better understand what the team has on both sides of the ball. The players showed a good amount of energy today and while some picked up where they left off, others were somewhat invisible from my vantage point.
To address the my questions from the beginning of the day, I’ll run through who stood out, and then share additional observations.
Entering practice, I wanted to see if T.Y. McGill could solidify himself as one of the rotational pieces up front. Additionally, I wanted to see Grover Stewart confirm what I saw from him on Tuesday.
Both defensive linemen were fantastic today. McGill started slow with a bad rep in pass rush drills, but followed it up by being unblockable for his next several reps. He batted down a pass during 11-on-11s and was a force against the run throughout the day.
Stewart was as effective as anyone on the day. The speed and ferocity of his initial move was good enough that he didn’t need a counter for most of the morning. So far he’s earning the respect of everyone and looks to have a legitimate role in the rotation up front.
One of the biggest off-season story-lines is that Phillip Dorsett been kicked down a notch by the rise of Chester Rogers. Rogers is clearly the No 3 receiver on the depth chart at this point but it appears that Dorsett is holding down the No 4 slot as well.
Dorsett caught a nice ball going to the ground along the sideline working against Vontae Davis and worked a beautiful double-move against Nate Hairston to get wide -open across the middle. He looked solid in drills, displayed good hands, and adjusted to poor throws to reel-in catches on a of couple contested balls. I don’t think that you could have asked for a better day from Dorsett with all of the questions that have been following him recently.
As for Tarell Basham, I am not down on him but he’s not standing out at the moment. You can see that he has all of the size and speed needed to become a great talent – he’s just not flashing, and I really want to see that from a drafted pass rusher.
Henry Krieger-Coble showed that he can fill whatever role the Colts want him to fill. He’s not quite as powerful as a blocker as Brandon Williams but he was able to block John Simon and Akeem Ayers effectively when asked to seal the end in the running game.
Some of his catches drew praise from Pagano. While running corner routes, the tight ends were supposed to catch the ball over their outside shoulder. On one route, the ball was thrown inside and short, requiring Krieger-Coble to find the ball and twist his body around to make a play on the ball, which he finished with a one-handed snag with his left hand. He made it look easy, and that was one of his two one-handed grabs for the day.
As far as some others who caught my eye, Hassan Ridgeway looked pretty impressive. His burst was better than I expected on his first day hitting, and his technique was solid as well. His upside makes this defensive line unit even stronger and a group that should be fun to watch throughout the preseason.
Antonio Morrison continues to look great. He looks leaner, faster, more powerful and considerably more focused. He has been working with the first group in the team’s base package and is even being sprinkled in during sub-packages periodically. Seriously, Morrison’s ceiling may be higher than anyone on the roster.
Jon Bostic is THE No 1 linebacker. He’s working with the first squad in every package and is doing exactly what he needs to become a force against the run as well as an asset against the pass. I didn’t expect him to be good in coverage despite hearing Pagano talking him up this off-season, but there’s honestly something there.
Erik Swoope continued his impressive camp. At one point he was even offering veteran Kamar Aiken some help after Aiken presumably ran the wrong route in walkthroughs. He’s bigger this year, hasn’t lost anything in the way of speed and is apparently taking on a leadership role as well.
The only thing keeping his ceiling inside of the Earth’s atmosphere is his blocking ability and even that is progressing from last season as well.
Deiontrez Mount had a really nice day. He’s getting through with his pass rush moves, and is able to shed blocks against the run game as well. He’s one of the depth outside linebackers that we still don’t entirely know. Today, Mount looked solid.
Marlon Mack looked as fast and shifty as he did Tuesday, but during punt return duties was the only player to muff his attempt. His speed is going to be a game-changer when he takes over the No 3 role for good.
On the other hand, Josh Ferguson continues to get worked as the No 3 back. In no way would I say he’s above Mack but he is definitely competing for his spot. In the end, I suspect that Mack will win the spot.
The only altercation at today’s practice was when Denzelle Good and rookie Jhaustin Thomas went head-to-head. The two mauled each other for a couple seconds until Thomas ended up got the upper hand and tossed Good to the ground. Good raised up and shoved Thomas and the two shared a few additional words after being separated ended but the tension never resurfaced.
After two days at training camp I have been impressed. The Colts look to have a close-knit, aggressive roster. The team is feeding off of each other.
I want to also address a question that has been asked regarding whether the defensive line has looked good or if the offensive line has looked bad. I would say that the starters along on the offensive line have been good, even very good a large majority of the time.
The line is missing some depth with Brian Schwenke out and I’ve not been that impressed with Good. He and Zach Banner aren’t where they need to be to make me comfortable. Adam Redmond and Jeremy Vujnovich remained solid, but didn’t stand out in one particular way.
The defense has been impressive not simply because they are winning these battles, it’s how they’re winning. The chemistry between Al Woods and Johnathan Hankins is very real. Even McGill and guys like Stewart are winning by technique and burst, as well as strength. Margus Hunt looks much better than I expected, but isn’t phenomenal either.
Some of these guys may look impressive in 1-on-1s but still haven’t shown what they can do within a unit. Still, the defense looks like an early strength, so long as they remain healthy and can show the same chemistry during live snaps against other teams.
No position group look particularly weak but the defensive line looks strongest at this point. Each other position group seems comparable, and I think that’s a good thing. Weaknesses will show themselves when injuries start to surface.
Any way you slice it, this roster is very encouraging right now and I cannot wait to see some Colts football regardless if it is pre-season or not.