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INDIANAPOLIS – Frank Reich’s first offseason program as the head coach of the Indianapolis Colts came to a close after Thursday’s minicamp practice.
The Colts’ 90-man roster will now head their separate ways for 6 weeks, before Training Camp begins at Grand Park in Westfield on July 25.
What was learned during the team’s offseason program?
-Luck Is ‘Throwing’: Yes, Andrew Luck threw footballs at Tuesday and Wednesday’s open minicamp practice. Luck has thrown ‘The Duke’ briefly (that came on Wednesday). Progress continues for Luck and he definitely looks like an NFL quarterback. The plan for Luck in Training Camp is to replicate a normal workload you would see in the regular season. Does that leave enough reps to be his elite self when the regular season arrives on Sept. 9? Remember, the last time Luck practiced in an 11-on-11 setting was December 2016.
-Rookies Must Prove Themselves: We need to pump the breaks on the 2018 rookie class. The 4 second-round picks of the Colts (LB-Darius Leonard, OG-Braden Smith, DE-Kemoko Turay, DL-Tyquan Lewis) have yet to see really any starting action so far. Leonard, who is the expected favorite to start at WILL linebacker, has been sidelined all spring with what is believed to be a lingering hamstring injury. Smith has been the team’s second-string right guard, behind Matt Slauson. Turay has been in and out of the lineup, but is showing some flash. Lewis has also been banged up as he tries to find playing time along the defensive line. We will see if the full pads coming on for this trench quartet will move them up the depth chart a bit during camp and the preseason.
-Innovative Offense Resonating With Players: Watch a Frank Reich offense operate and you will see new elements sprinkled in—skill players lining up in a multitude of spots, guys touching the ball in different ways and just a general quicker pace. Players like Nyheim Hines, Eric Ebron and Chester Rogers were some of the weapons often on the move. The Colts are still going to take their shots down the field, but they are looking to accentuate favorable matchups and give the ball to their playmakers in space, via higher percentage throws.
-Secondary Still Banged Up: For a second straight spring, the Colts did not have starting safeties Clayton Geathers or Malik Hooker participating. That’s less than ideal as the Colts undergo a defensive change with more zone looks in the secondary. It’s a mystery why Geathers missed the entire spring, after he played 5 of the final 6 games last season. Frank Reich said after Thursday’s practice that he is optimistic Geathers will be ready for the start of camp. With Hooker, his return to the field could linger into camp due to him tearing his ACL last October. Also, Quincy Wilson was sidelined for much of the spring, before returning during minicamp. The defensive backs have some talent, but the starting unit lacked any cohesion during the spring months.
-New Name At Linebacker: Keep an eye on Tyrell Adams as the Colts head into Training Camp. Adams has played for 5 NFL teams since going undrafted out of West Georgia in 2015. He has played in just 12 games (0 starts) with 18 total tackles. But Adams has seen ample action in the starting lineup, at SAM linebacker, ahead of Antonio Morrison. Now, the linebacker group should change a bit once rookie Darius Leonard gets back to normal health. Najee Goode and Anthony Walker saw the most starting time at linebacker during the offseason program.
-Veteran Offensive Linemen Needed?: For the vast majority of reps this spring, the Colts used RG-Matt Slauson (108 career starts) and RT-Austin Howard (92 career starts) in the starting lineup. While those veterans are key for what they bring off the field, should we start penciling them into the starting group up front? Jim Irsay says not so fast. Irsay pointed out that the Colts hope RG-Braden Smith and RT-Denzelle Good can supplant those two veterans once the full pads come on at camp. So hold off on cementing the starting offensive line just yet.