INDIANAPOLIS – Originally, August 24th was supposed to have the Colts inside of Lucas Oil Stadium taking on Washington, with a nationally televised Monday Night Football audience watching them.
Well, the Colts were still inside of their home stadium on Monday afternoon, having their most intense practice of camp.
There was some ‘live’ tackling at Monday’s practice, which is something we hadn’t yet seen in 2020.
What were some of my takeaways from Monday practice?
-Philip Rivers was (roughly) 19-of-28 on Monday. You had some drops (Jonathan Taylor, T.Y. Hilton, Trey Burton and Nyheim Hines). Hilton did have 5 grabs from Rivers. Probably the best aspect to Rivers on Monday was some pinpoint accuracy in the red zone. He continues to be a huge fan of his running backs and tight ends.
-Even though the offensive line was dominant in Monday’s ‘third quarter,’ the defensive line had some nice moments, too. You had ‘sacks’ from Justin Houston and Al-Quadin Muhammad and then tackles for loss from DeForest Buckner and Grover Stewart. The Muhmmad sack came on Anthony Castonzo and was another indication of a guy who might just start opposite Houston in Week 1. If he doesn’t, and it’s Denico Autry, Muhmmad is still going to play a big role.
-How ‘live’ was the Colts practice on Monday? We definitely saw some tackles to the ground on running backs, but that was mainly in close piles near the line of scrimmage. We didn’t see tackling in the open field or on wide receivers. Still, this was the closest thing you will see for a ‘game’ in the month of August for an intra-squad scrimmage.
-It took 90 minutes into practice, but Jacob Eason got his most 11-on-11 throwing work of camp on Monday. Eason went 5-of-9 on the afternoon (with 2 drops), but those numbers don’t tell the full story in how well the rookie threw the ball. Eason’s pass catchers struggled to create separation, yet he delivered the ball on target on 8 of the 9 balls. There’s just an ease in the rookie’s throwing motion, with a velocity and accuracy. Frank Reich liked what he saw from Eason on Monday, particularly in throwing outside the numbers.
-What a second half from Marlon Mack on Monday. He ripped off multiple big runs and shook Malik Hooker in the open field on one scamper. This was easily the biggest highlight-filled day for the starting running back. And kudos to the starting offensive line (and even Le’Raven Clark rotating in for Braden Smith) for opening up some gaping holes. Reich said Smith was on a 20-play pitch count on Monday.
-Monday saw some separation in the kicking battle. Chase McLaughlin was a perfect 8-of-8 (makes from 33, 38, 39, 44, 45, 47, 53, 55). Rodrigo Blankenship was 5-of-8 (makes from 33, 38, 45, 47, 55 misses from 39, 44 and 53). Blankenship missed in both directions, while McLaughlin continued to be his steady self. Frank Reich said Monday’s kicking session does get weighted a little bit more in the competition, given the ‘game-like’ feel to the practice.
-It came against reserve tackles, but Ben Banogu was a terror off the edge on Monday. And Tyquan Lewis was disrupting things in the interior, as well. Both former second-round picks did what they should be doing against not as talented opponents. Banogu and Lewis enter camp needing to show something to earn playing time. Monday, in a ‘game-like’ practice, was a very positive day for both. Unfortunately, Banogu did leave practice after suffering a left ankle injury in Monday’s ‘third quarter.’ After the practice, Reich said he caught up with Banogu and the young rusher didn’t think the injury was too serious. As far as Lewis, the praise continues to pour in for his 2020 camp: “He’s literally showing up every day, quite often,” Frank Reich said of Lewis on Monday. “If he keeps up at this pace, that’s going to be big plus for us.”
-Get lots of questions about Xavier Rhodes and how he has looked. Honestly, he hasn’t really been challenged much at all in camp. I haven’t noticed many completions against Rhodes, nor him knocking balls away. Selfishly, you would like to see more balls throw at Rhodes, knowing how important of a role he is going to have this season (and with how he played last season). But when he’s not getting beat that should be noted as well, and that’s been the case so far.
-Nyheim Hines has had a good camp in the ball handling department, be he muffed one on Monday, appearing to lose it in the sun. Hines still looks to be the favorite at punt and kick returner in 2020.
-We didn’t see a single catch for Michael Pittman on Monday, despite nearly 40 passes completed across the various units. It was a quiet afternoon for the rookie, with wideouts not named T.Y. Hilton (5 catches) having a relatively ho-hum day.
-Roof and window open, music blaring through the speakers, jumbotrons on, offense in white game jerseys (like the team will be in Week 1 in Jacksonville), busing to the stadium in the morning, with practice starting at 1:00, a 12-minute halftime—Frank Reich tried to mimic an away game at Monday’s practice inside of Lucas Oil Stadium.
-On Monday morning, the Colts moved TE-Andrew Vollert to the active roster (he was claimed over the weekend) and waived-injured WR-Chad Williams, who will revert to the team’s injured reserve if he clears waivers.
-Owner Jim Irsay was at Monday’s practice, watching from a golf cart on the sideline.
-Ironically, Monday brought the Colts back inside of Lucas Oil Stadium on the one-year anniversary of Andrew Luck’s shocking retirement. How different would today’s Colts be had Luck not abruptly retired?
-Couple of names that stood out to me on Monday for various reasons: CB-Travis Reed, LB-Zaire Franklin, RB-Marlon Mack, DT-Rob Windsor, DE-Al-Quadin Muhmmad, LB-E.J. Speed, WR-Dezmon Patmon.
-The Colts will have one more practice at Lucas Oil Stadium this Saturday.
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 Monday included: CB-Kenny Moore (groin) OT-Chaz Green, CB-Isaiah Rodgers (left foot/leg), WR-Marcus Johnson, DL-Sheldon Day (knee), TE-Jack Doyle (neck), S-George Odum, RB-Jordan Wilkins, FB-Roosevelt Nix, DT-Taylor Stallworth, TE-Xavier Grimble. DE-Ben Banogu did leave practice after suffering a left foot/ankle injury in Monday’s ‘third quarter’. Frank Reich said he didn’t think the injury was too serious after talking with Bangou after practice. 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. Turay had a boot on injured ankle while watching Monday’s practice. 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. Moore is starting to do some on-field, change of direction, rehab work. He was originally supposed to miss ‘at least a week’ after getting hurt on August 17th.
Weekly Camp Schedule
-Wednesday: 10:00 AM-11:35 AM Practice
-Thursday: 10:00 AM-11:50 AM Practice
-Friday: 10:00 AM-11:35 AM Practice
-Saturday: 1:00 PM-3:35 PM Lucas Oil Practice
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