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Colts Training Camp 2018: Day 4 takeaways

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The Colts take in their first night practice of the training camp season and their second in full pads

Matt Danely

The Indianapolis Colts went through their first night practice of training camp and also had their first wet practice. Early and often is was clearly affecting the team in positional drills. Robert Turbin nearly went down while working the sled after, Chester Rogers went down after attempting a catch in the back of the end zone and there were multiple drops, slips and burnouts in the initial minutes of practice.

Most everyone came around, though, as the rain never really increased above a heavy sprinkle and stopped altogether several times. Sunday was the second padded practice for the Colts, the first for Andrew Luck and was without question the most physical practice I’ve had the luxury of taking in.

Here’s a little bit of what I saw in Day 4 of Colts training camp.

Who was out?”

Tackles Tyreek Burwell and Jared Macharo, running back Josh Ferguson and defensive end Chris McCain.

How did Andrew Luck look?:

Luck again looked very comfortable. I’ve noticed that when the quarterbacks are in their positional drills — 3, 5 and 7-step drops, roll outs etc. — Luck doesn’t take quite as many of those reps as the rest of the passers. However, when he is throwing he looks crisp, strong and accurate. Exactly what fans want to see.

Luck has done well looking over the defense throughout camp and Sunday night was no exception. He did face some pressure throughout the night and was picking apart the defense for a stretch in 11-on-11s. He hit T.Y. Hilton on a few deeper balls which drew cheers from the crowd, but also seemed ‘satisfied’ with taking what he was given.

Thus far, Luck has no issues putting the ball where he wants it. He has full command of the offense at the line of scrimmage, is able to progress between his receivers quickly, is willing to check down and isn’t afraid to push it down the field.

Colts’ offensive line continues to rotate:

Nearly each day of camp we’ve seen multiple players rotating along the offensive line. We’ve seen rookie Braden Smith worked in at right tackle over the past couple days, Jack Mewhort took starter reps at left tackle today and there were many combinations working together as practice continued. Le’ Raven Clark has worked at both tackle positions, and Joe Haeg has worked as the second-team center.

Denzelle Good was the starter at right tackle Sunday and did a pretty good job as far as getting out to battle the defensive ends on the edge. He also got taken to the bank a couple times allowing John Simon to cross his face creating instant pressure.

The interior of the group appears to nearly be molded to what Frank Reich is wanting up front. They’re primarily working with Quenton Nelson at left guard, Ryan Kelly at center and they really seem to like Matt Slauson at right guard so far.

The second- and third-team lines come in many different combinations, though. Mark Glowinski looked pretty good through a handful of reps that I witness, also Mewhort did pretty well dealing with the speed of Kemoko Turay and others at left tackle, but certainly had some reps he clearly did not win.

Colts defensive line is showing off their speed:

As mentioned earlier, Simon has impressed me with his ability to get into the backfield so quickly. He looks very comfortable in the new front and it wouldn’t surprise me at all if he keeps getting the starting reps there throughout camp. He did get swallowed up by Good a couple times as well, but otherwise has been a pleasant surprise to most onlookers.

Jabaal Sheard looked fantastic in Sunday’s one-on-one drills where the offensive and defensive lines took multiple pass-rush/protection reps. His hands looked noticeably quicker and more explosive, and he was effective in leveraging his body at the snap to win several reps.

Tyquan Lewis is extremely quick, but I didn’t notice very many counter moves from him today. If his speed was there at the snap, he won. If he got snatched at any time, he lost. Denico Autry’s burst was also evident on the day. He was able to create immediate pressure from the interior at times, and looked to be a positive force against the run showing a quick processor.

Al Woods was also pretty impressive at times throughout the Colts fourth practice of training camp. Anthony Johnson and Carraun Reid stood out at times, and Grover Stewart had some dominant snaps and even lined up at defensive end a couple times.

Margus Hunt continues to be slept on. He’s a massive dude who looks to have put in the work this offseason and is quietly having a very good camp thus far.

Linebackers are still a ball of clay:

I know I stated that the linebacker position was coming into focus the other day, and despite Sunday’s ‘starters’ being a bit different, it’s actually what we expected before camp kicked off.

Darius Leonard has made his way into more starting reps in the WILL role, Najee Goode continues to work with the first unit (SAM) and Anthony Walker has played well at the MIKE position. Walker did leave practice with what is believed to be a groin issue, but barring any bad injury news, he seems to be getting the nod at the moment.

I continue to like watching the linebacker unit. Their youth and athleticism piques my interest each day, and I definitely think we’ll see several rookies working through the linebacker rotation.

Antonio Morrison finally showed up at times Sunday by getting a hand on a pass and might even prove to be benefiting from the lack of thinking the scheme requires.

At this point I don’t even know if it matters how inexperienced they are. They won’t be deep at the position once the season starts, but they’re taking well to the intense coaching and are applying it to the field.

The receivers are getting more interesting to watch each day:

Hilton has looked as dangerous as ever, Chester Rogers came back from his slip early in practice to finish it out and continue his solid route running and catching. Ryan Grant seems to be almost the clear No. 3 right now, but simply isn’t a flashy player.

I still really like the work ethic and performances Deon Cain has displayed in this small sample size and I’m looking forward to see what he has against other competition. I think it’s still reasonable to say he’s the favorite from the rest of the group outside of Hilton, Rogers and maybe Grant.

However, it’s the rest of the receivers that have me intrigued right now. Daurice Fountain has been quiet, but there’s no cause for concern or anything. He’s just not getting the ball thrown his way a ton right now.

K.J. Brent, Kasen Williams, Dres Anderson and James Wright have looked very good with their route running, are being targeted more by the quarterbacks, and have even been part of the heavy rotation at the position with multiple units. Krishawn Hogan had a good day Saturday but I have’t been overly impressed with him thus far, unfortunately.

Wilkins and Mack complementing each other in the backfield:

Coming into this training camp most of us agreed that Marlon Mack had some improving to do to establish himself as the lead back. He does still wear the brace that he sported last season, but he isn’t being hampered by his injury from last season.

Mack is still showing off his elite quickness and speed, but he’s also bringing some power to his game. At one point Mack took an inside run, darted outside of the linebacker gaining another 10 yards or so, but while being arm tackled by two defenders plowed through George Odum who squared up on him downfield.

Mack looks very good, and less apt to look for an outside lane, rather he’s taking what’s there and mixing his power into his natural speed, and it looks nice. It’s very early, but Mack looks like a complete back this summer so far. He’s also doing well catching the ball out of the backfield. Mack looks to be on the right track by all accounts.

I feel like it’s obvious by now, but Jordan Wilkins is really intriguing me thus far. He’s showing off the patience that we’ve continued to talk about since looking at his college tape, and while he’s considered more of a finesse type runner, he’s also not shying away from contact either.

I wouldn’t say he’s encouraging it, but like Mack, Wilkins is popping pads when it calls for it. He’s slippery between the tackles, has really impressive vision and has proven that if he can get to the second level of the defense that he has the requisite breakaway speed to rack up some yards after contact. I’m becoming a fan boy.

As for the rest of the position, Turbin looks good and is showing some early quickness and speed, Christine Michael has done pretty well for the most part and Nyheim Hines is simply going to be a multi-purpose weapon this year.

Hines doesn’t look like a guy who’s going to rack up a lot of carries right now, rather he looks as though Reich wants to use him as a mismatch tool going forward. He literally lines up everywhere: in the slot, in the backfield, out wide, jet sweeps, inside shovel passes and anything else you can think of. I don’t think he’ll be passing the ball this year, but he’s literally a chess piece in this offense.

Colts secondary a growing, but very undefined group

We’ve talked about Quincy Wilson on Day 2’s notes, but he continues to be the standout among the corners. He’s always looking to strip the ball, knock it away at the catch point and is very comfortable in this new system. He’s been a standout amongst the group, but with the top two safeties out, it will be a work in progress to see exactly how good he can be.

I really like what I’ve seen from Pierre Desir as well. He’s broken up a few passes, is regularly in good position to make the tackle, but has been beat a couple times by combination routes just the same.

Kenny Moore is someone that the coaches really like, and for good reason. Despite his stature, Moore is playing larger and more physical than one might guess. His move into the slot looks to make for a liberal rotation between he and Nate Hairston between the nickel role and reps at the boundary spot.

If I had to put the next guy on the list it’d have to be D.J. White. White has been solid, scrappy and physical, but his full skillset needs this camp to show itself. He’s getting a lot of reps in multiple roles and has good reactionary timing when attacking the ball.

The rest of the group is a mixed bag for sure. Robert Jackson is long and is showing good ability to mirror receivers in positional drills, but I’ve yet to see him stand out in either way. I still think the most potential from the rest of this group comes from Henre Toliver. He shows natural instincts and the willingness to be physical against the running game.

Chris Milton has also been getting a regular rotation at multiple spots. He’s also done well in positional drills but I’ve yet to see him jump a pass or break up a play. Not to say that hasn’t happened, I just haven’t seen it.

Similar sentiments in regards to Lashard Durr. All in all, I just don’t see a clear contender for the CB5-6 roles. I still hold strong that this unit needs another top-3 corner to improve the overall talent level of the position. Hopefully someone stands out in the coming days. I’ll be watching them closely from here on out.

Overall the youth and design is what you notice the most during team drills. You can see the focus of speed and instincts is real in every aspect, and it’s fun to take in. This team is exciting because of where the team has been in the past couple year, but they need this training camp to be as productive as it possibly can be.

The practices are very business-like, when one drill ends the next begins. There’s no patty caking around. The coaching staff is ripping their players for bad reps if they need it, and it doesn’t matter if it’s a rookie or veteran — everyone is expected to put everything they’ve got into each practice rep.

But, they’re also being constructive. When they need to polish something up, the coaches tell them. When they kill a rep and ‘get it’ they cheer them on. There’s a real sense of quality coaching with this staff.

This makes the competition real and it’s very clear to see.

The players are responding and appear to prefer this kind of atmosphere. They are applying what they are learning on the field, in turn they put up good reps afterwards and that’s what matters when we’re talking wins and losses.

We’ve only seen four days of practice so far, and only two of those with full pads on. Andrew Luck is going to make up for some of the inexperience among the roster, but this is a roster eager to learn and their relationships with the staff are exactly how you’d want it to be. We may not see this team win 10-plus games this year, but we will see a roster growing in the right direction with the right people directing them through the season.

For that I am very excited to see this group of guys on Sunday’s.