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Colts Training Camp 2018: Day 2 takeaways

The Colts had some very nice performances in their second day of camp. Andrew Luck is progressing, Deon Cain is the real deal and the young defense may just surprise some people very soon

Daurice Fountain (10) catches a pass from Andrew Luck during positional drills — Westfield, Indiana 7/27/18
Matt Danely

The Indianapolis Colts were welcomed into their second day of training camp with a very nice crowd eager to watch the franchise quarterback back in action. The stands were full in Westfield and there was a lot to take in on the field.

Without much lead-in, let’s dive into some notes from Day 2 of Colts training camp.

Who was out?:

Denzelle Good did not practice today just 24 hours after being released from the active/NFI list. However, Good’s absence wasn’t injury related rather the team stated it was due to a personal issue.

Chris McCain also did not practice today due to an ankle injury believed to have been suffered on Thursday.

How did Andrew Luck look?:

Luck looked good, albeit still understandably rusty at times, though. Luck went 15-of-19 on the day between 7-on-7 and 11-on-11 drills and threw some very nice deep balls in the process. It appeared that through 7-on-7s Luck was in the dink-and-dunk mode initially, but he did open it up a bit later on in the day.

Luck didn’t throw any touchdowns, or interceptions for that matter, but did have nice touch throwing in between the different levels of the defense and was very accurate along the boundary as well. Not in any stat sheet, Luck did look very comfortable throughout the day. He never strained or lacked arm strength — in case you were wondering — on the deeper throws.

All in all, I’d say Luck’s return to the field has looked very normal for the most part. A couple balls were off target or in heavy traffic, but he looks smooth and confident.

Colts may be zoning in on starting linebackers:

The Colts linebacker unit has been part of much debate throughout the offseason, and is considered to be the ‘most wide open’ position on the roster. That may be, however, Tyrell Adams (SAM), Najee Goode (WILL) and Anthony Walker (MIKE) look to be the front runners for those starting spots at this point.

The trio were the first unit on Thursday, and today they were all in there agian. For the most part it looks like a very solid group in terms of how they look in head-to-head drills, but at least one of those isn’t nearly as clear in my opinion.

Goode and Walker look very good, they look fast, instinctive — all of those things that the coaching staff has been hoping to see from their defense. Adams is obviously liked quite a bit by the coaching staff, and does have some potential, but I found that another backer stood out in almost every drill.

Zaire Franklin is going to give that starting spot a real competition in the coming weeks. In team periods he looked instinctual, fundamental and has the right size to legitimately challenge for that SAM role.

In position drills Franklin was coachable, and was able to transition that coaching to the field and received plenty of positive feedback from the coaching staff. Matt Eberflus ran the linebacker drills again today and was very pleased with what the Colts’ seventh-round pick is bringing to the position.

Franklin was rotated in with the 1s and 2s (this position was a very heavy rotation all day) and looked good doing it. As for the rest of the linebackers, rookie Darius Leonard had some peaks and valleys in his second day of camp. Leonard did not look very athletic/agile in sideline tackling drills versus the running backs and tight ends. He, quite frankly, got embarrassed a couple times in consecutive reps. On the other hand, Leonard looked right at home in the head-to-head drills and, from what I could see, was able to read the offense fairly effectively.

In an attempt to be blunt here, Antonio Morrison simply does not look to be on the same level in any capacity as the majority of the group. He just doesn’t despite being the team’s leading tackler a season ago. Matthew Adams, Skai Moore, Jeremiah George and William Ossai all look solid overall, and this position in general looks to be a very athletic unit.

They are noticeably young, but the linebackers are a fun group to watch right now and might just surprise some people as they get into the preseason.

The running backs are going to get a major workload this season:

Yes, most of us already presumed this to be the case, however, it was quite evident in practice. Rookie Nyheim Hines was regularly used with the first- and second-teams out in the slot and could be a major asset catching the ball out of the backfield.

Fellow 2018 draft pick Jordan Wilkins was also tossed into the rotation and looks to be a very slippery back as he showed off the great vision and patience with the ball in his hands.Wilkins also showed that he could catch the ball in traffic, was aware enough to come across the formation to help in pass protection and has more than enough speed in the open field.

Robert Turbin was given a healthy dose of first-team reps as well despite being suspended for the first four weeks of the season. Prior to the past few days, I suspected that Turbin may end up being a possible casualty due to missing the first month of the season, but it appears the Colts are fully on board with him coming back and being a key piece to the position on and off the field.

Marlon Mack, again, showed off his insane explosiveness. He ran smoothly, showed off his one-cut ability and quite honestly looked like a Lamborghini racing an ATV after catching the ball and running away from his pursuers. Mack looked good between the tackles, as did Christine Michael, Hines and Wilkins, and each got a nice workout in the passing game as well.

Turbin was used on ‘early down’ running plays and looked fine, but I still don’t think he’s more than a short-yardage back on this roster.

Colts receivers are a fun group to watch:

T.Y. Hilton looks to be in a very good place already, but I feel confident in saying that the rest of the group may be more yet-to-be-determined than even the linebacker position. Ryan Grant was solid, and from everything we’ve heard about him (solid, consistent, not flashy) he fit that mold quite well.

Dres Anderson and K.J. Brent are very interesting in that they were somewhat average in short and intermediate routes across the middle, but both have easy speed and are long with each having a great catch radius. Kasen Williams is here to challenge for a roster spot and has everything the team wants at the position, and Krishawn Hogan could very well be the possession type receiver for this group come the regular season.

Without question Deon Cain stole the show today. He’s very aggressive in attacking the ball, has great timing on his leaps and spatial awareness as well. Cain made at least two high-point catches over defenders and a couple diving catches along the sidelines as well. He’s winning his routes and looks nothing like a rookie right now.

Most of the responses to the Cain hype has been in reference to Duron Carter and how he was billed as a possible stud when he had a very flashy training camp in 2015 with Indy. Here’s the difference: Cain is doing everything right. He’s not dropping gimme passes like Carter did, but he’s producing the same flash only with much more athleticism — and not against the scrubs.

Cain isn’t 6-foot-5 either, but he goes up after the ball like he is. Cain is running good routes, but is actually saving the quarterbacks from their underthrown balls or passes designed to either go out of bounds or be caught by Cain. Everything this time of the year is hyperbole to some extent — especially with rookies. But, Cain just comes to work and reaps the benefits from grinding.

Nobody is saying he’ll supplant Hilton for the WR1 spot, but I don’t see how he couldn’t legitimately challenge for the No. 3 spot at the position. He’s going to be a lot of fun to watch this season, and the coaching staff thinks so too.

Quincy Wilson looks great, corners in a healthy rotation:

As we continue on to positions with a lot to prove, the cornerbacks are fun at the top of the unit, but are a major question mark after that. Quincy Wilson looked excellent today breaking up a couple passes by driving on the ball, and stripped a catch by Ross Travis creating a turnover for the defense in 7-on-7s.

Pierre Desir broke up a pass deep and looked very good all day overall. Kenny Moore is certainly getting some starting reps, both, as a boundary corner and in the nickel role. I’ll just confess that I didn’t see much at all from Nate Hairston on the day, but he did get himself a pick off a tipped pass. Gotta love production and Hairston is in the perfect position to continue his climb into the league.

However, D.J. White, Chris Milton and Henre Tolliver were all moved around quite a bit among the unit. This position has a long way to go in terms of the depth, but the starters certainly appear to be in a good spot. With that said, this team needs another quality piece to give them that critical immediate depth.

Taking a look at the Colts second day of training camp, everyone in attendance saw some very positive signs of a competitive football team for the 2018 season. They also saw that the team isn’t likely to be a power house in the conference either. The offensive and defensive lines looked good, but you can only take so much when there aren’t any pads on.

The D-line does look very fast, just as Chris Ballard and the coaching staff were hoping for, and the O-line is considerably better all the way around. Frank Reich and his coaching staff are able to conduct no frills practices, are constantly coaching and expect each player to be ready for the next drill as soon as the horn sounds to end the current one.

We’re not going to really know what the team is capable of for a little while, but the team and staff believe in the process and collectively are a focused bunch.