While much of the media coverage regarding Andrew Luck overshadowed the rest of the work the team did, Tuesday was the first day of Colts Minicamp and there were a few stories worth monitoring as the team heads into day 2.
INJURIES - MISSED PRACTICE
There has been a rather long list of players who have not been participating much during the Colts off-season program. Included on the list on Tuesday was running back Marlon Mack, safety Clayton Geathers, safety Malik Hooker, linebacker Darius Leonard, wide receiver Chester Rogers, tight end Erik Swoope, defensive lineman Tyquan Lewis, center Deyshawn Bond, cornerback D.J. White, safety Ronald Martin, guard Jeremy Vujnovich, wide receiver Krishawn Hogan, and defensive end Chris McCain. At this point in the off-season, the team is under no obligation to provide any updates as to the severity of injuries to any of these players or expected timelines for their return.
The most noteworthy injury for Tuesday was Nyheim Hines, who left the practice field favoring his left leg. At this time, we can only speculate that he may have tweaked a hamstring. It won’t be surprising if he does not participate today or tomorrow and focuses on being a full go for the start of training camp. It is worth monitoring today.
While it is still way too early for there to be a great deal of meaning from the starting groups that are put out on the field, it may give a nod toward players who will likely enter training camp with a stronger hold on a roster spot than others.
The starting offensive line consisted of left tackle Anthony Castonzo, left guard Quenton Nelson, center Ryan Kelly, right guard Matt Slauson, and right tackle Austin Howard. The second unit consisted of left tackle Tyreek Burwell, left guard Jack Mewhort, center Joe Haeg, right guard Braden Smith, and right tackle Denzelle Good. The biggest takeaway from this rotation may be that Le’Raven Clark is squarely on the bubble and will need to spend his summer break making noticeable changes for a strong training camp.
The starting defensive line included defensive ends Tarell Basham and Jabaal Sheard with defensive tackles Al Woods and Denico Autry. The second unit included ends John Simon and Anthony Johnson with tackles Grover Stewart and Margus Hunt. A notable name that is missing from the first two groups is Hassan Ridgeway. He too may be squarely on the bubble and will need to continue making changes to his body and improving over break to turn heads in training camp.
The only story regarding the linebackers that is noteworthy is that there is still no legitimate idea of what to expect from the unit. Another new starting group that included Tyrell Adams at WILL, Anthony Walker at MIKE, and Zaire Franklin at SAM took the field with the first team on Tuesday. The second unit included Jeremiah George, Najee Goode, and Matthew Adams. Weeks of off-season practices will ultimately leave fans with no idea what the starting group could look like in September.
No group did more to get noticed on Tuesday than the tight ends. This is a group that could be one of the deeper and more dangerous units on the team in 2018. This is particularly true given Frank Reich’s affinity for using them in his scheme.
“In actual practice action, second-year tight end Darrell Daniels had quite the day. First, quarterback Phillip Walker threaded the needle on a pass through traffic to his right to Daniels, who had a big gain on the play. Then, Daniels, this time in the seam to the left, caught a bullet from Jacoby Brissett for another big chunk of yards. Finally, Daniels made another big play, this time across the middle, on a play from Walker; the crossing pattern was cleared out by the rest of the offense and left the tight end wide open.”
“The strong day from the Colts’ tight ends continued through the end of Tuesday’s practice. First, Brissett delivered a pass to Jack Doyle along the left sideline that Doyle dove all-out across his body and made a nice play to hold on and maintain possession through the catch. Then, a couple plays later, Brissett found his other tight end, Eric Ebron, this time on the right side, but another big gain.”
There are pretty strong indications that the tight ends will be featured heavily in training camp practices. Don’t be surprised to hear more stories about this group flashing some big plays.
Other noteworthy plays came from wide receiver Kasen Williams and linebacker Jeremiah George. Walker continued his breakdown:
“Wide receiver Kasen Williams made a terrific play to outjump his defender in the defensive backfield and make an impressive catch on a fade route to the left side of the field. Williams, a second-year Washington product, is one of several players at the wide receiver position hoping to earn one of two to three spots on the final roster.”
“Wide receiver James Wright made a nice play to hustle down and catch and down a punt inside the five-yard line, earning praise from special teams coordinator Bubba Ventrone and his teammates.”
“George dropped what would’ve been an easy pick-six, but the play showed good instincts and quickness from the fourth-year linebacker.”
Some of these players are fighting for a chance to be noticed and to break through heavy competition for a spot on the roster. The exciting thing about Minicamp and Training Camp is seeing new names making players and find a way to get noticed. Stay tuned for updates from today’s practice to see who can keep the momentum going and which new players will step up to get noticed.