The Indianapolis Colts kicked off the first day of their mandatory three-day team minicamp on Tuesday, and here are some key takeaways:
Colts Are Being Cautious with Andrew Luck’s Strained Calf
The Colts are being cautious with franchise player Andrew Luck’s calf strain—and rightfully so, having seen firsthand what the lingering lower leg injury can do if not fully healed, regarding Golden State Warriors superstar Kevin Durant’s critical Game 5 injury Monday night.
Luck has already missed the past 3 weeks of the team’s OTA’s, but that’s not what really matters for the Colts, which is making sure he’s 100% ready for training camp—and most importantly, the regular season shortly thereafter.
While the supporting cast surrounding Luck is much better collectively, the Colts are going to only go as far as #12’s ‘golden throwing arm’ takes them.
They’re absolutely doing the right thing here.
Pierre Desir Looks Here—to Stay
The 28-year old cornerback had a breakout year for Indianapolis in 2018 and was handsomely rewarded with a new 3-year, $25 million deal.
However, Desir doesn’t look like a simple ‘flash in the pan’ for the Colts secondary.
He was one of the top players on the practice field and truly shined on Tuesday:
Hard to see a lot of practice, but Pierre Desir had an incredible day. Won all three of his reps in 1-on-1's, broke up two passes in 11-on-11, one of which went up in the air and got grabbed by Okereke.— Joel A. Erickson (@JoelAErickson) June 11, 2019
On a young, yet promising cornerback unit, Desir could be a solidifying veteran presence and could repeat as arguably the team’s #1 cornerback—or at least the Houston Texans DeAndre Hopkins must think so—who he simply shut down last season.
Eric Ebron and Jabaal Sheard Return to Practice Field
The Colts received a big lift on the practice field, as two of their key players returned for the first time this offseason, Pro Bowl tight end Eric Ebron and invaluable veteran defensive lineman Jabaal Sheard.
Ebron had minor off-season groin injury and was said to be “running routes full speed” on Tuesday—although primarily in individual and positional drills. Meanwhile, Sheard has been recovering from an undisclosed injury but participated in team drills.
Darius Leonard Still Recovering, But Will Be Ready
Darius Leonard underwent a ‘surprise’ off-season ankle surgery, and while he’s set to be out around 6 weeks with his planned recovery timetable, he was jogging with the rehab staff on Tuesday—which is definitely progress.
Perhaps most importantly, Leonard said he’ll be ready to roll for Colts training camp in a few weeks. He reportedly played with pain for most of 2018, so could the reigning Defensive Rookie of the Year and First-Team All-Pro be even better next year?
In Leonard’s absence, it was rookie linebacker Bobby Okereke who lined up in ‘The Maniac’s’ usual spot next to returning starter Anthony Walker. The 11-on-11 practice work for the rookie Okereke among starters is tremendous experience he wouldn’t be otherwise gaining this off-season, and his speed has already been noticeable out there.
Rookie Rock Ya-Sin *Already Starting
Speaking of “rookies forced into starters’ action through injury”, Okereke wasn’t the only Colts first-year player who’s received some serious practice time with the starters already.
With Quincy Wilson sidelined with a wrist/hand injury (as well as Nate Hairston and Chris Milton out), rookie cornerback Rock Ya-Sin was thrust into first-team defense action:
Quincy Wilson was out of action, so Rock Ya-Sin played with the first-team defense. Bobby Okereke also lined up in Darius Leonard's spot next to Anthony Walker— Joel A. Erickson (@JoelAErickson) June 11, 2019
Per 1070 the Fan’s Kevin Bowen, Ya-Sin wasn’t often targeted and held his own as an outside cornerback for the Colts defense on Tuesday.
The Colts will wrap up their minicamp on Wednesday and Thursday this week.
Despite missing some star players such as Luck, Leonard, and T.Y. Hilton (out the past two weeks) among others, the Colts look like their talent level is much improved this off-season.
Hopefully, that translates into more wins on the field and a deep playoff run—which includes hoisting the elusive Lombardi Trophy.