The Indianapolis Colts took their fifth day of training camp indoors as a couple days of rain made the practice fields too wet for the team to use. While the day continued in the same manner to previous days — energetic, up-tempo drills and heavy coaching — our observation area was not ideal and our vision of a good part of 11-on-11 drills was blocked.
However, with what we could see, there were some interesting developments throughout the morning.
Who was out?:
Anthony Walker did not make it out onto the field today and it doesn’t appear that he’ll be returning within the next few weeks. Walker injured his groin Sunday, and Frank Reich described it as “it wasn’t the worst thing in the world, but it wasn’t best thing either.”
Josh Ferguson (RB) and Tyreek Burwell (T) also missed practice for a second straight day.
Other injury news:
During the day Tarell Basham and Denzelle Good both walked off with training staff with apparent injuries. Basham (suspected groin injury) reportedly returned to continue on with drills afterwards (I didn’t see him return, as I was watching the WR/CB drills at the time), but Good (unknown injury) didn’t appear to make a return to the field.
Reich also told us that Clayton Geathers was coming along nicely and that he should be back soon, and Anthony Castonzo was described as being “really close.”
How did Andrew Luck look?:
Luck looked quite good again today. He floated a couple passes throughout the day — one intercepted deep over the middle by Matthias Farley — but was largely on target and showed another notch on his power, and dropped a couple of beauties in the bucket.
Luck racked up over 30 attempts (24-of-33 I believe) on the day and has been continuously ramping up his workload since camp has began without any issues. He threw 2 touchdowns today, and still looks very comfortable in the pocket as he progresses through his reads.
If you didn’t know he’d been out for a year with injury, there’d be nothing about his approach, mechanics, arm strength or accuracy that would lead you to believe he’d had surgery. Very, very good signs from him for the season ahead.
Concerns within the WR corps:
Thus far it’s very apparent that the depth chart at receiver is: T.Y. Hilton, Chester Rogers, Ryan Grant and a wide open competition from the rest of the group. However, Grant hasn’t done anything to hold that No. 3 spot down. He’s dropped perfect balls downfield, doesn’t look to have significant speed and doesn’t really have the ‘possession’ body type either.
Deon Cain is hot on his heels with all that he adds to the position, and K.J. Brent has been getting more and more opportunities with the first two units and is making the best of those. The coaches were high on Brent through the offseason, and he’s coming through with consistency and working well in traffic to get open.
A guy many have high hopes for, Daurice Fountain, has not been one of those doing much of anything to impress thus far. Look, his route running is very solid and he has a TON of natural ability, but he’s not winning 50/50 opportunities, off the line of scrimmage and is struggling to get the quarterback’s attention and complete the catch.
For now, he’s a real work in progress.
In the meantime, Kasen Williams and Dres Anderson are making more noise and with the Colts keeping either 5 or 6 receivers this season, these two — and Brent — are entrenched in the battle for the final roster spots right this minute.
We’ve seen 5 practices so this could all change in a week, but it’s a competition that will get a lot of attention throughout the preseason and could be determined by in-game success.
Quincy Wilson has a real nose for the football:
As the cornerbacks continue to rotate liberally with each snap, Wilson has proved to be the playmaker of the group for me. He’s knocked several balls out of receiver’s hands immediately after the catch, and is acclimating well between zone and man responsibilities.
Hilton has been winning the battle (and carving up the secondary in general) when the two are matched up, but Wilson has been dominating virtually every other matchup. His ability to get his hand on the ball — reception or not — as it arrives to the catch point is going to come into play this year.
Colts fans wanted to see more of him last season, and this year he’s going to be a huge part of helping the secondary with his timing and ball skills.
— other CB observations:
Lashard Durr did pretty well today, Robert Jackson did very well in the red zone drills and getting his body in between the receiver and the ball in multiple situations. He shut down Fountain on a 50/50 ball, knocked a pass down intended for Krishawn Hogan along the sideline and looked more than physical enough at the line of scrimmage from my vantage point.
The rest of this group is coming along, Chris Milton had a nice pass break up as well, but they are similar to the WR group in that I expect them to all have good days at some point, but nobody seems to be really standing out with much consistency.
Skai Moore is getting a real look at the MIKE role:
With Anthony Walker out, UDFA Skai Moore was used at the MIKE in the nickel and saw some additional snaps in the dime. Moore has kind of been quiet in that he hasn’t had any ‘WOW’ plays, but he looked very smooth discerning between dropping into coverage and reading the run today.
It’s very possible that two rookies could be rotating in at the MIKE with Walker out. Moore looks to be used in the nickel package a bit more and Zaire Franklin has been someone with more speed and instincts than more expected coming into camp. Franklin had a pick-6 in 7-on-7 drills as well today.
This group will continue to be one to watch as Walker will be out for awhile and the youth behind him is showing their athleticism and speed, and getting better each practice.
Tyquan Lewis had a very nice day, Kemoko Turay is exciting:
Lewis and Turay are both rookies along the defensive line the Colts have very high hopes for. Today Lewis showed off some of that burst that makes him such a mismatch for interior offensive linemen. He also lined up at defensive end and worked well off of the edge, putting Good and Le’ Raven Clark on roller skates a time or two.
Lewis got a lot of work today with the second team and moved around along the line, and even when he wasn’t piercing the offensive line, he was forcing linemen to hold on for dear life or double him. This is the kind of work Chris Ballard was hoping to see from the second-round pick.
Turay also flashed a few times today off the edge and is a completely different animal, though. He’s quite electric and his almost absurd length is paying off for him right now. Turay was able to beat Clark with what would possibly have been a sack opportunity, and zipped right past Braden Smith on another snap forcing Jacoby Brissett to step up into the pocket quicker than he would have liked resulting in a forced throw.
Turay doesn’t look to be a guy who will rotate in much in the team’s base defense, but second-and-long, and third down situations will be fun to watch him in over the next few weeks through the preseason.
Lewis looks to get a more regular workload despite being a perfect fit in subs. He’s strong enough to work against linemen with good ability to shed, and appears to get pretty solid jumps on the run. Don’t be surprised if he’s pushing for more snaps at some point early in the season.
The tight end room is going to be sick this year:
Eric Ebron had himself a day folks, and Andrew Luck really likes him too. Ebron showed off some of his route running ability today catching a touchdown from Luck in the back of the end zone. Ebron ran a Y-shake route to perfection creating separation from the linebacker and went high to catch the ball in between defenders helping on the back end.
Jack Doyle also had his typical day, leaking out to the opposite flat for a big gain after showing block initially. Doyle and Ebron are going to complement each other very nicely in this system, especially if the line gets back to full health and they aren’t delegated to staying in to help with protection.
Erik Swoope looks to be the TE3 at the moment, and has had a really nice camp so far. He’s getting the snaps in three tight end sets and looks leaner and faster at this point. His speed is going to help this offense to remain a major red zone force because of this group. Ross Travis, Mo Allie-Cox and Darrell Daniels are getting regular work and have all looked good too.
With all of that said, the Colts had another productive day of practice. Luck and the offense are going to be a very fun watch this year and could do some real damage.
The defense took advantage of their opportunities when they came along.
Many players — at positions with important roster battles — have yet to really put a memory in the mind of onlookers or the coaches, but will likely have their day as we’re only 5 practices in.
When I asked Reich about the depth at receiver and cornerback, and what he’s noticed from each group, he didn’t mention a single name from either unit.
Maybe it’s nothing, and we could probably chalk that up to a limited sample size of practices.
However, these positions and a few others are in need of someone stepping up. Again, we’ll likely see it from someone as practices continue, but the Colts preseason is right around the corner and my guess is whoever can prove to be a gamer will begin to get a larger role in practices to show their stuff.
This coaching staff continues to be impressive on the field and holds the players accountable each and every snap. This young roster is getting the teaching that Chris Ballard hoped for when he and Frank Reich brought in their staff for this year’s team.
So far, so good.