INDIANAPOLIS – The Colts returned to practice on Friday for a 90-minute session following an off day.
With roster cuts coming in two weeks, the Colts will have seven more full-padded practices between now and those cuts on September 5th.
What were some of my takeaways from the Friday’s fourth practice in full pads?
-I had Philip Rivers at 11-of-15 during 11-on-11 work on Friday. For camp, Rivers is (unofficially) 44-of-61 (72 percent). Rivers threw the ball down the field a little bit more on Friday. After practice, offensive coordinator Nick Sirianni gushed about the accuracy he’s seen from Rivers. Along with Rivers’ accuracy, Sirianni has been reminded about the speed at which the quarterback processes things, knowing where to go with the ball and having a strong mastery of blitz protection.
-When you saw a rep inside the 10-yard line have Rock Ya-Sin lined up across from Michael Pittman in man coverage, you figured Philip Rivers would take a chance. He did, and Pittman initially got his hands on the well positioned back shoulder throw. But Ya-Sin got in there to break up the potential touchdown. It was a great play at the point of attack by Ya-Sin (more on him below). Even with this play, the Colts still really like the ‘strong hands’ that Pittman has showed. Of course, the rookie better be ready for this sort of competitiveness, especially in the red zone, when it comes to securing the ball.
-Friday was a really good day from new tight end Trey Burton. When you see Burton (6-2, 238 pounds) he’s a bigger looking wideout, who is clearly someone the Colts want to utilize heavily in the passing game. If healthy, Burton is going to have a pretty impactful role.
-There’s not a wide receiver on the Colts roster that creates better separation on short-distanced routes than Parris Campbell. If teams are going to man cover the Colts, be ready for Campbell to do that, and for Frank Reich to scheme up more crossers to get his speedster the ball in space.
-Marlon Mack talked to the media after Friday’s practice for the first time since Jonathan Taylor was drafted in April. First, Mack did not hold back in his compliments of Taylor. “He’s going to be a beast. Teams should be aware of him. Just wait,” Mack said of Taylor. Mack had a very mature outlook on the Colts drafting Taylor. He mentioned that the addition of Taylor should keep him fresher, and potentially add a few years onto his career. This is a contract year for Mack.
-Frank Reich’s newest playbook creativity this year will involve some fun in using multiple running backs on the field. Bank on that.
-Speaking of that, Nick Sirianni has coached in the NFL for 12 years and he thinks this running back room is the best he’s been around. As Sirianni said, the Colts do have one of the better/deeper running back groups in the entire NFL. That bunch has benefitted in camp from Philip Rivers loving to find RBs in the pass game.
-Defensive coordinator Matt Eberflus met the media on Friday and offered some praise for the progress in Rock Ya-Sin’s game. No Colts defender played more snaps than Ya-Sin last season and him being an upper echelon corner is really needed this season.
-Eberflus has also liked what he’s seen Tyquan Lewis this camp. When asked on Friday if the growth from Lewis this camp is similar to what we saw from Grover Stewart last season, Eberflus agreed. Now, Stewart is a definite starter and a player this staff really likes as he heads toward a second contract.
-The Colts are rotating safeties pretty frequently during practice. We saw the Colts use a lot of them last season, so do not be surprised if you see names like Tavon Wilson and George Odum playing. Malik Hooker and Khari are your safety starters here in 2020.
-Tight end Mo Alie-Cox came off the physically unable to perform list on Friday morning, but did not participate in practice. Alie-Cox figures to have a notable role for the Colts, given how much Frank Reich likes to use tight ends, and this staff believing in the 6-5, 267-pounder.
-We’ve mentioned Nyheim Hines as the favorite at punt returner this year. I’ll go with Parris Campbell as the favorite at kick returner. Campbell had 7 kick returns for 175 yards (25.0 yards per return) last season.
-Throwing reps are pretty scarce for Jacob Eason in 11-on-11 settings, but the rookie did have a beautiful deep sideline connection to undrafted Farrod Green on Friday.
-No kicker competition on Friday. So far, we’ve seen Chase McLaughlin and Rodrigo Blankenship kick just once in the four practices in full pads.
-Colts all-time sack leader Robert Mathis was at Friday’s practice, sharing some wisdom with DeForest Buckner before things got underway. Buckner is dealing with a hand injury and has missed the last two practices. Buckner’s hand ailment is why he wasn’t taking part in 1-on-1 drills earlier this week, even on the days he was participating in team sessions.
-Couple of names that stood out to me on Friday for various reasons: CB-Rock Ya-Sin, TE-Trey Burton, LB-Darius Leonard, S-George Odum TE-Farrod Green
-The Colts will have two practices at Lucas Oil Stadium next week (Monday and Saturday). Unfortunately, no fans will be allowed (media is allowed). Frank Reich has mentioned these practices will have a ‘game-like’ feel.
Injury Report: Kemoko Turay remains 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 Friday included: CB-Kenny Moore (groin) OT-Chaz Green, OT-Braden Smith (foot), CB-Isaiah Rodgers (left foot/leg), WR-Marcus Johnson, WR-Chad Williams (boot on left foot), DL-Sheldon Day (knee), DT-DeForest Buckner (hand), DT-Denico Autry (ankle), TE-Jack Doyle (neck). Tight end Ian Bunting, who has been having a nice camp, left practice on Friday with an undisclosed injury. Moore will be out at least a week after straining his groin, Reich said. Moore was visibly frustrated on Monday when he suffered the injury, tossing his helmet on the ground as he headed towards the bench. Reich did not have a definite update on when Turay would make his practice debut in 2020, other than to say he’s making good progress. Reich said Day is ‘going to take a little time to heal’ as the Indy native has not participated in any of the full-padded practices so far.
Weekly Camp Schedule
-Saturday: 10:00-12:00 Practice
-Sunday: 10:00-11:30 Practice
-Monday: 1:00-3:30 Practice (at Lucas Oil Stadium)