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Young Colts Getting Chance to Prove Themselves in OTAs

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There are several young Colts players getting valuable practice reps with the main groups in OTAs.

Indianapolis Colts v Baltimore Ravens Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images

On Wednesday, the media was able to see a full Indianapolis Colts practice for the second time during this current session of OTAs, and we were able to get some interesting tidbits from them.

To preface, here are some players who were reportedly not seen doing full team work:

Quarterback Andrew Luck, running back Marlon Mack, wide receiver Krishawn Hogan, tight end Erik Swoope, offensive guard Jeremy Vujnovich, center Deyshawn Bond, defensive end Kemoko Turay, linebacker Darius Leonard and safeties Malik Hooker and Clayton Geathers.

Outside of those players, an interesting takeaway I had were some of the young players getting run with the first-team units.

What may be Colts fans’ favorite part of this is that second-year pass rusher Tarell Basham is lining up opposite of Jabaal Sheard at defensive end, ahead of John Simon. Simon is a good edge guy and made a lot of plays for the Colts in 2017, so it likely means defensive line coach Mike Phair and defensive coordinator Matt Eberflus are seeing nice progress from Basham.

Rookie undrafted free agent Tomasi Laulile from BYU also got a look at defensive tackle next to Al Woods. At 6-2 and 285 pounds, Laulile has pretty good size for the three-tech spot and could have the quickness and athleticism the Colts are looking for in the new defense.

According to Andrew Walker of Colts.com, the starting linebacker group has remained Najee Goode at WILL, Anthony Walker at MIKE and Antonio Morrison at SAM. Although Morrison is a good run defender — something that will be a paramount requirement for the starting SAM — I am glad to see somebody else is at least getting a shot to compete there. Tyrell Adams got some looks with the first-team linebacker group today. We haven’t really seen much from him in his NFL career (12 games with the Oakland Raiders since 2016), so we don’t know how good he might be against the run. However, he is about 10 pounds lighter than Morrison, which would indicate Adams should move around a little better.

Undrafted rookie cornerback Henre’ Toliver is another relative unknown, but he too got some action at corner today with Quincy Wilson in and out of drills. Coming into the draft, Toliver was regarded for his size (6-0, 185) but not so much for his ability to stick with receivers in man coverage. However, he may be able to show-out in zone coverage in the Colts’ defense if he can keep receivers in front of him.

Outside of today, we have seen some other young players getting valuable reps with some of the team’s top groups. With Luck not fully participating in practice, Jacoby Brissett has taken all the first-team reps at quarterback. In the event Luck isn’t ready to start the season, Brissett will have gained valuable practice time this offseason.

Rookie first-round pick Quenton Nelson has also ran exclusively with the starting offensive line at left guard. No surprise there, but he wouldn’t be with them if he couldn’t handle it. Fellow rookie Braden Smith has not yet cracked the starting lineup in practice (Matt Slauson has been at right guard), but he has been the second-team right guard.

Swiss Army Knife Joe Haeg continues to practice all around the line, seeing a lot of time as the second-team center with Deyshawn Bond rehabbing his quad injury. By the time the season arrives, Haeg will have seen adequate practice time at all five line spots dating back to his time as a rookie in 2016.

This is OTAs and not training camp, so now is the time to tinker with things like this. Training camp is where the reps really matter and you hope to have your guys getting into their designated places. There are camp battles to sort out, of course, but players can show you what roles they are capable of handling right now during the spring. Regardless if some of these guys make the final roster or not, the coaches are at least going to give these guys a fair shake at making an impression.