Today the Indianapolis Colts conducted their second straight indoor practice, but there was a great vibe throughout the morning. For starters, we had much more visibility with the offense coming towards us without any obstructions.
Maybe the most interesting thing was the overall physicality of one of the 11-on-11 periods in which both sides were 100 percent live with the exception of hitting the quarterback for obvious reasons.
For this practice I primarily watched individual matchups as opposed to unit versus unit in order to come away with a better idea of who won which rep and so on. This was a fun practice to take in, so here are my takeaways from Day 6 of Colts training camp.
Who was out/injury news?:
Once again Josh Ferguson and Tyreek Burwell were both out, but the Colts got Anthony Castonzo back from the NFI list and Denzelle Good returned from whatever caused him to leave practice early yesterday.
Also, Tarell Basham was present today and while I didn’t see him in the live periods, he did take reps in positional drills. Today was also the first day for Krishawn Hogan working without his knee brace, and he looked comfortable and effective throughout his work on the day.
How did Andrew Luck/Quarterbacks look?:
Luck looked very good again. He didn’t take as many passing reps today, but finished 16-of-19 and was sharp all day. Jacoby Brissett, Brad Kaaya and Phillip Walker received a larger share of the passing reps today.
Brissett was largely accurate again today, but he continues to lack a changeup in his arsenal. Kaaya throws one of the most beautiful balls I’ve ever seen and was on the money on some passing drills with the tight ends downfield along the sidelines. However, once the defense is added to the mix his accuracy and decision making is truly disappointing to say the least.
Walker actually had what I would describe as the best day I’ve seen him have since being with the team. He was accurate, showed some nice arm strength and was seeing the field much better than I can ever recall. His receivers didn’t always give him much help, but he looked good with what he could control.
Physicality was intense:
As I mentioned earlier, the Colts were live today, tackling to the ground during the first 11-on-11 period of the day. The offense did a lot of red zone work in the first portion and ran the ball quite a bit. Jordan Wilkins looked very good in the physical aspect, taking on all comers with joy, and was shifty enough to cut back a few times to get into the end zone.
Denico Autry, again, showed off his quickness in the interior. He buzzed right between Ryan Kelly and Quenton Nelson on one play and was in the backfield so quick that Brissett felt it necessary to unload the ball immediately to the running back before anything had a chance to develop away from the line of scrimmage — including the running back’s route.
Grover Stewart and Tyquan Lewis were the second-team defensive tackles and did a nice job matching the physicality of the interior of the offensive line, but in the red zone they got pushed around a bit. Rookie Darius Leonard nearly picked off a Luck pass to Darrell Daniels as he leaked out into the flat, but just missed. As a result, Daniels allowed the ball to get into his body and missed a chance at a touchdown reception.
Both sides of the ball rotated quite a bit in this live portion, and there were some good matchups in the process. Quincy Wilson, T.J. Green and Daurice Fountain were all shaken up at different times during this portion of the day. Wilson and Fountain returned, but Green stayed out and Ronald Martin received most of his reps after that.
Martin had a nice pass break up on a deep ball from Luck to Deon Cain and should have picked it off, but he was in the right place at the right time as the single-high safety and reacted to the ball perfectly.
In the linebacker corps Leonard (W), Skai Moore (M) and Najee Goode (S) were the starters on the day and overall I thought they looked pretty good. Throughout these head-to-head portions, Jack Doyle and T.Y. Hilton owned this group along with the secondary.
This was very fun to watch some actual hitting and I think it was a better litmus test of the team’s offense than the defense. The offense won a ton, but this defense is going to be a process with its development, and they still have their top two safeties on the sidelines right now. We’ll know more in the coming weeks.
The offensive line looks pretty stout:
Today the Colts welcomed back Castonzo with open arms putting the starters on the same field together for the first time during camp. With everyone back, this line dominated in the running game. It was nice to see, but concerns grow with the defense’s lack of run stoppage up the middle.
This is largely a byproduct of the scheme in my opinion, but I also think this line is going to be a very good run blocking unit so it’s somewhat hard to tell anything definitive about the defensive front right now.
The quarterbacks also had more time to throw, but this offense has a ton of quick throws involved in the playbook as well so that’s naturally going to help.
Who stepped up today?:
As I mentioned I payed a lot of attention to individual reps in 1-on-1 drills and the team live periods. Cornerbacks Robert Jackson and D.J. White had nice showings today. While they didn’t have any real impact plays, but they did show good technique and ability to mirror receivers quite well.
Quincy Wilson had another nice day nearly picking off a ball towards the sideline and was in the right place more often than not, and at least in position to make the tackle upon the catch roughly 95% of the time.
Deon Cain, Chester Rogers, K.J. Brent and James Wright ran excellent routes in these 1-on-1 battles and were able to create separation more often than not. On the opposite end of those battles, Nate Hairston, Kenny Moore, Lashard Durr, Wilson, Jackson and White all held their own for the most part.
Now, none of these guys won every rep, in fact, they battled back and forth quite a bit which made for a competitive and fun set of drills to watch.
The corners also worked against stack/bunch formations against receivers and tight ends which was interesting as well. Eric Ebron was a stud again today and is a mismatch especially when the ball is thrown accurately. Additionally, he’s got enough speed and route-running technique to create some space for easy receptions.
Erik Swoope had his moments, Doyle was his typical self and Ross Travis got open in the end zone a few times only to be bypassed by Brissett and Kaaya as they checked the ball down.
We did get to see a little bit of success from Daurice Fountain today as well. For what it’s worth he has been a solid route runner, but just hasn’t created much separation to this point. He did a couple times today and made a nice catch in the flat, and made a move on Hairston to get some yards after the catch.
However, he got lit up by Hairston and Shamarko Thomas for his efforts — along the sideline — and limped pretty heavily for several minutes afterward. Fountain did come back to finish practice which was nice to see.
There are a few players that continue to show themselves becoming possible difference makers day in and day out.
Jabaal Sheard has been an absolute beast. He took on the Colts two starting tackles today and continued to look very good. Chris Cooper also looked good against the run from the safety position and forced a Christine Michael fumble today.
I can’t say enough about how well Jordan Wilkins has looked with pads on. He’s so smooth in his cuts, he’s shown he isn’t JUST a finesse back and he catches very well out of the backfield while remaining a solid pass protector as well. I can’t wait to see him this year.
Hilton looks like a man amongst boys each and every day. Granted he knows good and well where the holes are in these zone looks, but he and Luck might actually be aliens using ESP by the looks of their chemistry this early on.
Wilson is another. He’s covering very well, is knocking the ball loose from receiver’s paws on a daily basis and is becoming very good at jumping out-breaking routes along the boundary. He’s going to have a pick-6 or two this year.
I think Darius Leonard has come in to camp ready to work and is showing off his instincts. He’s read plays multiple times in the past few days with great success. He’s very fast — much faster than 4.7 — and is affecting the trajectory of the quarterback’s passes (often causing overthrows) with his length and jumping ability when dropping into coverage.
Without pointing out any individual, the offensive line looked great today. They imposed their will in the running game and did well in keeping the defense away from Luck, Brissett and company for the most part.
All in all, another good day of practice with more positive signs coming from some guys. There are still those players who’ve had some bad days and some quiet days while they have yet to put a ‘good’ day up or at least cause themselves to be noticed.
Cain had some drops today, but in comparison to others, Ryan Grant continues to be forgettable at this point, and Fountain hasn’t had his standout day yet. They both need a good couple of days under their belt to help their stock.
Defensively, there are similar situations for some players. Although there aren’t many who specifically have been bad, but they aren’t skill players either.
Quite honestly, despite having a preseason game next week, the real growth period for this team will likely come between PSW1 and PSW2. They need the on-field experience against unfamiliar faces to ‘get it.’ Try to be patient for the first couple weeks of exhibition play.