INDIANAPOLIS – Actions always speak louder than words, and Carson Wentz knows that is even truer for him once the fall rolls around.
But as Wentz began the second chapter of his NFL life this spring, he knew that before the final exams are put in front of him here soon, plenty of preparation was needed.
That had Wentz making a handful of spring stops, mainly in California and Indiana to get to know his new pass catchers.
It had Wentz texting, then free agent, T.Y. Hilton expressing to his now teammate that he was all-in on the #BringTYHome campaign.
Summer break for Wentz had the quarterback organizing two separate week-long stays in Texas for his pass catchers. Football activities in the morning, followed by a little golf in the afternoon was often on the schedule.
In total, Wentz says he got together with various groups of receivers, tight ends and running backs around 7 times this offseason.
Wentz left those workouts with a couple of specific impressions.
“It’s been really good,” Wentz says of the work away from the facility this offseason. “It’s the thing I love about this group, is they want to work. So, the whole offseason they were bothering me, ‘Hey, where are you going to be?’
“A lot of talent and a lot of versatility, that’s what I’ve seen – a lot of explosiveness from receivers, running backs, tight ends. (They’re) great dudes that really understand football and I think that allows us to be able to do something special because talent takes you so far, but understanding the game and the ins and outs of plays, being on time, where you’re supposed to be, understanding zone coverages – all that stuff. (They’re) a lot of smart football players out here.”
Nailing down timing will be something Wentz and his pass catchers must give attention to throughout the next month-plus.
We saw some expected rust from both parties on Day 1 of training camp.
“I was telling Coach (Marcus) Brady coming out here before that I was a little amped up and I needed to tone it down,” Wentz said following his first true practice with the Colts.
“It felt like the first day of school again coming out here. A beautiful setting for training camp, you’ve got farmland all around you – my type of place. So it was a lot of fun out there today and like I said, early on I just had to tone it down a little bit. I was a little amped up.”
Wentz finished the day an (unofficial) 6-of-13 when taking part in 11-on-11 sessions. His receivers dropped a couple of would-be completions. The Colts also were running some plays that they had installed the previous night.
“I thought overall (Wentz) did well, made some great checks in the run game and the passes,” Brady, who is leading the offense with Reich not at practice, said. “We put a lot on his plate mentally and he handled that very well. He threw the ball well today, had a few missed throws but it was his first time getting out here with the defenders in our receiver’s face. It’s all new for them. So, we’re going to continue to get better every day.”
One clear aspect to what the Colts are going to be this year at quarterback was seen at Wednesday’s first practice of the week.
The Colts have a quarterback who can scoot, and make plays off script.
“Just putting (Wentz) in those types of positions, he’s naturally going to do it if the pocket happens to break down and needs to get out of the pocket,” Brady says. “There are plays where we’ll get him out of the pocket with the movements, the (naked bootlegs) that we did, a couple of zone reads, but not too many because we don’t want him running around too much risking injury. But at the same time, we do want to use his athleticism because it does open up the offense.
“The nakeds are going to be big, that’s something that he likes. We do a great job running the ball, so as long as our run game is working, it’s going to keep defenses honest and we have to kind of play off of what the defense does. If they’re crashing on the backside then we’ll run our nakeds, if they’re not then the run game should be rolling and we’ll keep it rolling.”
Truer evaluations are coming for Wentz.
In hearing from Jim Irsay and Chris Ballard the night before his first practice with the Colts, Wentz knows full well that the expectation in Indy is to win at a high level.
“I love that because I’ve always been wired that way,” Irsay says. “Coming in here, I could feel it in the spring right after the trade, just the culture was different. A), it’s a family. It truly feels like a family. Football, it’s always talked about in a locker room, it’s always talked about it’s a family, it’s a family, but something feels different here – and even in the community, even with you guys. It just feels like a big family with everyone supporting and encouraging each other.
“But the expectations are there. I mean having Mr. Irsay talk to us got me fired up last night. He’s still got a lot of passion, a lot of energy and I think it got a lot of guys excited.”
Day 1 jitters were there for QB1, but he definitely talks like a guy beyond grateful to have this fresh opportunity, in an environment he can thrive in.