INDIANAPOLIS – Hello, Colts practice. How I’ve missed you.
Monday marked the first time since December 2019 that the media was back covering the Colts on the practice field.
The start of the week brought full pads on for the Colts, for the first time in 2020. Between now and roster cuts on September 5th, NFL teams can have 11 full-padded practices as they utilize this time to prepare an 80-man roster for the regular season, in evaluating their entire group.
What were some of my takeaways from the first practice in full pads?
-It didn’t take long on Monday for Philip Rivers to find the Colts best receiver. It was T.Y. Hilton—back from his minor hamstring injury—hauling in 3 of the first 4 passes from Rivers. This wasn’t all that surprising to Frank Reich. The head coach said after practice that when you get two ‘instinctual, smart’ football players together, who understand timing and spacing, they are going to be in sync quickly. It is interesting that Hilton is much a different body type from the bigger wideouts Rivers is used to working with. Hilton looked healthy, and had a strong first day in full pads.
-Roughly, Rivers was charted at going around 14-of-18 during 11-on-11 sessions. Watching Rivers operate you very easily see how much quicker and decisive he is with the football—two big factors in the Colts wanting to make a change at quarterback this offseason.
-Marlon Mack had a big gain to the right in the first 11-on-11 period, an early reminder of the starting job he holds (and should hold). Monday was a very ‘eased in day’ for the rookie class, including Jonathan Taylor, which is what you’d expect on the first day in full pads.
-We haven’t seen too many practices where Parris Campbell has been healthy and fully participating. He suffered a hamstring injury early in camp last year, which sidelined him for a huge chunk of August. A healthy Campbell on Monday showed why the Colts are so bullish on his talent. His ability to create separation on shorter routes is impressive.
-Before exiting practice with a strained groin, Kenny Moore showed again why he’s one of the most instinctive players on the roster. Moore directly impacted a pair of incompletions by blitzing from his nickel corner spot and then breaking up a screen pass.
-The sheer size of DeForest Buckner (6-7, 300 pounds) just towers over his entire defensive line teammates. Sadly, we didn’t get the 1-on-1 matchup of Buckner and Quenton Nelson on Day 1.
-Options for punt returner include: Parris Campbell, Nyheim Hines, DeMichael Harris and Isaiah Rodgers. Campbell couldn’t stay healthy last camp to secure that job. Hines was the highlight of last December, when he replaced the injured (and now departed) Chester Rogers at punt returner and dazzled.
-Monday saw very few 11-on-11 reps for quarterbacks Chad Kelly and Jacob Eason. It was Eason talking after practice on Monday about how the speed of the game in the NFL is much faster than college. This is where no preseason games really hurt the young quarterbacks.
-Typically, August signings are purely for camp bodies. But new safety Tavon Wilson (who also wears No. 31 like Quincy Wilson used to) has a notable resume with 43 career starts in 110 games played. I’ve got him on my 53-man roster, and he’s a name to keep an eye on when the Colts use more defensive backs in sub packages.
-Couple of names that stood out to me on Monday for various reasons: TE-Trey Burton, DT-Grover Stewart, DE-Al-Quadin Muhammad, DT-Tyquan Lewis, CB-T.J. Carrie, OT’Le-Raven Clark.
-Center Ryan Kelly met the media after Monday’s practice and said he’s ‘hopeful’ for a contract extension before the start of the season. Jimmy Sexton, Kelly’s agent, continues to be in talks with the Colts.
-On the run game front, Kelly mentioned the need to be more consistent in that department this season. It’s sometimes overlooked, but we’ve talked about this specific aspect of the run game that did not show up last year against the top run defenses.
-Frank Reich mentioned after Monday’s practice that his main focuses this camp are for the Colts to create more plays (in all three phases) and to understand the depth of the roster.
-The Colts were down two starters on Monday: DE-Justin Houston (neck), OT-Braden Smith (foot). Denico Autry and Al-Quadin Muhammad benefitted from no Houston practicing. And Le’Raven Clark, who mostly has experience at left tackle, replaced Smith. This is such an important camp/year for Clark. The Colts really need someone to emerge as a reliable 3rd tackle.
Injury Report: Kemoko Turay and Mo Alie-Cox remain on the physically unable to perform list. Julian Blackmon is on the non-football injury list. Other guys who did not appear to be practicing on Monday included: DE-Justin Houston, OT-Chaz Green, OT-Braden Smith, WR-Marcus Johnson and DL-Sheldon Day. Reich said Houston was hit in Sunday’s practice and suffered a strained neck. Smith is dealing with a foot injury that the head coach doesn’t think his major. Both Houston and Smith were present at Monday’s practice. Denico Autry and Al-Quadin Muhammad benefitted from no Houston practicing. And Le’Raven Clark, who mostly has experience at left tackle, replaced Smith. Cornerback Kenny Moore left practice with a strained groin. The severity of Moore’s injury is unknown, but the cornerback was visibly frustrated, tossing his helmet on the ground after suffering the injury and leaving the field.
Weekly Camp Schedule
-Tuesday: 10:00-11:45 Practice
-Wednesday: 10:00-12:00 Practice
-Friday: 10:00-11:45 Practice
-Saturday: 10:00-12:00 Practice
-Sunday: 10:00-11:30 Practice