INDIANAPOLIS – Even though the full pads won’t come on for another two months, Tuesday’s temperatures in Indianapolis had the Colts feeling like it was training camp.
With temps hovering near 90 degrees, the Colts were back on the field for another day of individual work. Two more on-field sessions remain for the Colts this spring before they depart for two months.
As we outlined last week, Colts players and staff came to an agreement on a two-week on-field schedule for this time of year, foregoing the normal 10 OTA and 3 days of minicamp. The work last week and this week will not involve offense vs. defense sessions or 1 vs. 1 drills.
Here are some takeaways from the Colts on Tuesday:
- Colts players continue to gush about getting to know Carson Wentz this offseason. To be fair, the whole ‘Wentz/teammate issue’ was overblown in Philadelphia. While Eagles players have said that Wentz wasn’t super outgoing in being relatable to all corners of the locker room, they also state he was by no means a bad teammate, and that winning cures all. Still, for a Colts team having a different starting quarterback for a 4th straight year, it is important that Wentz has made a strong early impression on his new teammates. “I have no idea what everybody else is talking about,” Pittman says of Wentz. “I see a team guy that is always there, ready to help and do whatever it takes. He’s been a great teammate.”
- Throwing sessions between Wentz and his pass catchers have been aplenty this offseason. And that is likely to continue even when the Colts break for 8 weeks starting this Friday. It’s the arm talent of Wentz that stands out in such sessions. “It was the first or second time I was throwing with him and we were running post routes and he threw a 65-yard post and I was like, ‘Oh my gosh, I really have to dig down and run,’” Pittman describes. Considering everything that has transpired for Wentz and his career over the past few years, the Colts are seeing a quarterback very grateful of this fresh start. “He’s so dialed in,” Pittman says, pointing out Wentz’s work ethic and arm strength. “He is on a mission.”
- On the quarterback front, lead backup Jacob Eason met the media on Tuesday. Eason is getting his first taste of offseason work in the NFL, and he’s also being given the opportunity for more practice reps, bumping up into the second unit. “It’s awesome,” Eason says. “A completely different situation in the QB room and being a year older, it’s great. Having an idea of the offense, having a firm grasp of it going into camp is so much different Year Two versus Year One. And then getting the reps, going out there and playing football again, taking snaps under center and going through progressions, it’s been a blast.” The Colts have sent a message to Eason by not signing a veteran QB this offseason. That is: It’s your backup job to win. Yes, Sam Ehlinger is on the roster, but Eason is the favorite to be the backup to Carson Wentz in 2021. If Eason bombs in training camp, then the Colts will likely scour the veteran QB to market to find a backup.
- Last week, Kenny Moore shared that he feels like the chemistry of the Colts secondary is something that needs to improve in 2021. Veteran cornerback T.J. Carrie is back for another season in Indy and he agreed with Moore’s assessment. “Yeah, it could always be better,” the 31-year-old Carrie says. “I think one of the steps we took upon ourselves is doing a lot of off the field activities together. Building our brotherhood off the field. It’s easy to build those chemistry aspects during the season because you are always in the building. But when you truly step off the field and are away from the building, ‘Hey man, let’s go shoot some pool. Let’s go bowling. Let’s go do some things to really get to know each other as teammates and as brothers because that unity and that strength it translates on the field.’ I think that’s something we really put on ourselves to get together off the field and really do more things off the field to build that chemistry.” Remember, Carrie ended last season ahead of Rock Ya-Sin on the depth chart. Ya-Sin is going to have to earn his spot back, which would be as the team’s third cornerback in their nickel personnel grouping (playing alongside Kenny Moore and Xavier Rhodes).
- Khari Willis—who Chris Ballard labels “as the most underrated guy on the defense”—brings up an interesting point when talking about where the Colts defense needs to take another step forward in 2021. It’s the consistency over 60 minutes, and stringing that together for longer stretches. The loss to Pittsburgh last season, in which Willis left injured in the 3rd quarter, summarizes that perfectly. After playing arguably their best half of the season in Pittsburgh, the Willis-less Colts wilted away in the second half, losing a critical Week 16 game. “I think last year we had games where we put together real good games or we had halves or quarters where we played real very well,” the third-year safety says. “I think us playing in this system for another year, playing together for another year, we want to expand that. We want to play winning football as much as possible. That’s our main goal, to win ball games. We know it’s going to start with defense. It always has and always will. If you watched the Super Bowl last year, it was all about defense…We are going to take full responsibility of so that when the season comes, it’s not just a couple of games or a couple stretches, it’s a complete ball game. We want to put as many of those together as possible.”
- The media will have one more practice viewing this Thursday, which will be the last look at the Colts until their 2021 camp, which is likely to take place at Grand Park in Westfield.
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