The Colts are in the midst of phase three of OTAs and today provided media access to at least some of their practice. During phase three, players aren’t allowed to have live contact and are not in pads. That means that everything we see at this phase is to be taken with a very large grain of salt. However, it provides our chance to get our first look at some younger players and see how they’re adapting to the new offense and for some, to the game.
With that in mind, and the memory of camp warriors like Jojo Natson tempering our expectations, here are some updates from today’s OTA.
Jacoby Brissett looks good
Whatever you believe about the likely conclusion of the Andrew Luck health saga, having a good backup quarterback is a good thing. It helped the Eagles get a Super Bowl win, and the lack of it caused the Texans to spiral into irrelevance last season. It is important, and so hearing that Brissett looks good is definitely a good thing.
We’re an hour and a half into today’s Colts practice and I have to say, my primary takeaway so far is that Jacoby Brissett has been extremely sharp this offseason. He looks so much more confident as well.— Stephen Holder (@HolderStephen) June 7, 2018
A confident Jacoby Brissett wasn’t what we saw last season. Most of the time he was a guy running for his life, not really sure where his reads were, and ready to scramble if he thought there was a chance the pocket was collapsing. He held the ball too long, missed some guys because he didn’t pull the trigger, just plain didn’t see the field well, and tried to kill his running backs with his fastball screen passes.
In short, his season wasn’t great. But with the voice of a veteran backup quarterback in his ear this offseason, he apparently looks like a new player. Frank Reich is ideally suited to help get the most out of Jacoby Brissett’s raw talent. We saw in glimpses the kind of throws he can make. Now he’ll have the whole offseason to get the system down and build rapport with his receivers. That is certainly encouraging news to hear.
Andrew Luck is “real close” to throwing actual NFL footballs
Andrew Luck is “real close” to throwing actual NFL footballs, per head coach Frank Reich, and it sounds like Luck will be the dominant voice in determining when he does in fact begin throwing once again.— Zak Keefer (@zkeefer) June 7, 2018
As close as the Colts played everything to the vest last season, they’re a bit more open heading into this one. While they still aren’t giving precise timelines, Frank Reich coming out and saying that Luck is very close to being ready to throw a real football is definitely a positive sign. I won’t dig into this one much more, because you can only handle so much Andrew Luck speculation before a part of you dies inside.
Deon Cain pops as a red zone option
With a wide open competition for the WR2 and WR3 positions on the roster, an early name to note is Deon Cain, who made an impression on the media present at today’s OTAs during red zone work.
One guy who keeps jumping out in red zone drills: rookie WR Deon Cain. Kid’s got some nifty hands and footwork.— Zak Keefer (@zkeefer) June 7, 2018
Cain was a player who many thought coming into the draft was worthy of a 2nd or 3rd round pick. We didn’t rate him quite so highly, placing him in the late 4th or early 5th round in our draft guide (did you know we had one of those?). Still, getting a player like Cain in the 6th round was a good selection, and it has begun to show as he apparently showcased his value as a red zone threat. While nothing will come close to being set for a long time yet on the depth chart, it is great to see a rookie standing out during that portion of practice.
Nyheim Hines taking kick return duties
Nyheim Hines runnning as the team’s No. 1 kick returner in practice right now. Wouldn’t be surprised if the rookie is back there come Week 1.— Zak Keefer (@zkeefer) June 7, 2018
Given his success doing this at the college level, seeing Hines back doing return work is not surprising. The Colts have struggled for years with having underwhelming return men. If Hines can come in and provide a spark for special teams, it will certainly increase his value to the team.
Also interesting to note, T.Y. Hilton was doing some work back as a punt returner. He hasn’t done that since 2012. I wouldn’t expect that to be something he does a lot of, but he certainly has the speed and ability to make major contributions there if called to do it.
Frank Reich’s offense will allow all weapons to be used all over the field
This a really good quote from Eric Ebron on the #Colts new offense: "We can pretty much do anything with anyone, any way, and any how, on any down and any situation. The fact that everyone has to know everything is the best thing about it."— Zak Keefer (@zkeefer) June 7, 2018
That’s a clunky subtitle, I know. The gist of it is that like the Eagles, Reich will use his playmakers at varying positions around the field. The Eagles often ran the exact same plays last season, but changed them up by simply changing the personnel running those plays. This creates matchup nightmares for defenses and lets the offense capitalize on those advantages.
We expected that this would be the case, but hearing Ebron talk about that nature of the offense just confirms how much more versatile and creative this new offense should be. Just thinking about how much fun it will be to watch Andrew Luck dicing up defenses is seriously exciting.
With the 3-day mini-camp coming next week, we are nearing the end of real Colts activity until training camp. So far there is plenty to be excited about, but as we know, none of that will mean much until we get a chance to see guys suited up and in pads against real competition.