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INDIANAPOLISBack to work with full pads on was how the Colts handled Friday’s morning practice.

The Colts retuned from an off day for their third straight session in full pads.

Here are my takeaways from the 8th practice of camp:

  • After a nice start, it wasn’t a great day for Jacob Eason. He was 9-of-16 in team work and struggled when the offense was backed up against its own goal line. Eason completed passes to Zach Pascal 2x, Jordan Thomas 2x, Nyheim Hines 2x, Jonathan Taylor, Marlon Mack and Jack Doyle. In a later drill in the red zone, you saw the good and bad with Eason’s big arm strength. His ball placement was a tad off on a pass to Jonathan Taylor in the red zone, and with his velocity, the running back couldn’t secure the pass. But later in the red zone, you saw Eason rifle one to Zach Pascal in the end zone, with the ball fitting into a small window for the TD. This is where Eason must harness that arm strength and continue to try to master pre-snap reads, thus knowing early in a play where to go with the football.

 

  • Sam Ehlinger had another solid day, going 10-of-14 in 11-on-11 sessions. In particular, Ehlinger was much better on Friday in the sessions with both offenses backed up against their goal lines. Ehlinger is stringing together consistent performances with the second-team offense. Hearing someone ask the question of Does Ehlinger deserve a starting session in a practice? isn’t the craziest thought.

 

  • One area where offensive coordinator Marcus Brady has seen Jacob Eason grow with these starting reps has been in reading progressions. Brady said the play he was most pleased with from Eason on Friday was where the quarterback quickly identified that the ball needed to be checked down to a running back. The play got the Colts a positive gain, and was a glimpse into the steps that the staff wants to see from Eason. It might look simple, but that’s what the Colts need to see.

 

  • Brady did note that rookie Sam Ehilnger is a faster processor than Jacob Eason. That’s not too surprising given their collegiate experience, with Ehlinger playing in 46 games and Eason playing in 29 games.

 

  • With the full pads now on, Matt Eberflus says the pass rush is “on track, progressing…but never good enough.” The pressure hasn’t been as immense in recent days, but you still notice the pressure with the full pads on for each of the last three practices.

 

  • Friday marked the 6th straight practice (3 in full pads) that Sam Tevi has been the starting left tackle. Now, the OL (and Tevi) has been better in recent days. Offensive coordinator Marcus Brady said the left tackle competition until Eric Fisher returns remains open (with Will Holden and Julie’n Davenport still in the mix). Brady said the Colts plan to still rotate there through camp. Chris Reed is starting for Quenton Nelson. Danny Pinter is the guy for Ryan Kelly.

 

  • Some notes from Friday’s 1-on-1 sessions: Kenny Moore and Michael Pittman is always a great matchup with each guy winning very competitive reps on Friday, Mike Strachan made an impressive catch against Xavier Rhodes (with Rhodes shrugging his shoulders like ‘what else am I supposed to do?’), Dezmon Patmon made a nice grab against Isaiah Rodgers.

 

  • Yes, Strachan had a drop late in the 11-on-11 period, but his presence in the 1-on-1 red zone drills continues to be there. That’s something the Colts are intrigued by. Strachan can be such a weapon in the red zone. On Friday, he hauled in a fade pattern with Rhodes blanketing him on one rep, and then followed that up with a great slant, posting up and providing a massive frame for Jacob Eason to find him for a TD. This is going to help his chances to make the 53-man roster.

 

  • Third-year linebacker E.J. Speed is such a great athlete in coverage. Speed has taken the starting reps at WILL with Darius Leonard out. That’s important because Leonard has missed 5 games in the last two years. The WILL spot means so much to this defense that Speed showing up in that role is key for a 17-game regular season.

 

  • Matt Eberflus says third-year defensive end Ben Banogu has taken ‘big steps’ and loves how fast No. 52 is playing. Banogu translating this to joint practices and preseason reps will definitely be something to watch. Bangou trained with DeForest Buckner this offseason.

 

  • The Colts activated these guys from the COVID list on Friday: OT-Julie’n Davenport, DE-Al-Quadin Muhammad, CB-Xavier Rhodes. Friday was the first practice time for any of them in camp. Muhammad should potentially factor into some starting/major rotational reps at defensive end. Rhodes is obviously your top outside cornerback. Davenport has starting experience before at tackle, so he’s a name to watch if Sam Tevi and Will Holden struggle.

 

  • With those additions, the Colts had 10 of their 11 defensive starters available at the start of Friday’s practice. The one continued absence is Darius Leonard (ankle). Leonard isn’t wearing any boot or brace on his surgically repaired ankle from early June. He was jogging at the start of Friday’s session and looks very close to making his camp debut.

 

  • Julian Blackmon (right knee) got hurt early in Friday’s practice, so that had the versatile Andre Chachere starting next to Khari Willis. Chachere is a cornerback on the roster, but the Colts like his ability to play in multiple spots. The coaching staff was pleased with how Chachere handled his duties last season on the practice squad, on the scout team. With Blackmon getting hurt, and the Colts waiving Rolan Miligan on Friday, will they look closer at signing veteran Ha-Ha Clinton-Dix, who the Colts worked out this week.

 

  • To make room for these guys the Colts placed WR-J.J. Nelson on IR, and then waived S-Rolan Miligan and QB-Jalen Morton. With Morton no longer here, the Colts have 3 healthy quarterbacks: Jacob Eason, Sam Ehlinger and Brett Hundley.

 

  • Guys that stood out at Friday’s practice: QB-Sam Ehlinger, DT-Chris Williams, CB-Andre Chachere, TE-Jordan Thomas.

 

  • The Colts will have morning practices again on Saturday and Sunday before an off day on Monday.

 

Injury Report: The following players did not appear to be participating at Friday’s practice: S-Shawn Davis (hamstring), LB-Darius Leonard (ankle), C-Ryan Kelly (elbow), QB-Carson Wentz (foot), DT-Taylor Stallworth (hamstring), WR-Tarik Black, LG-Quenton Nelson (foot), LB-Jordan Glasgow (back), G-Danny Pinter (illness), TE-Mo Alie-Cox (knee), TE-Noah Togiai, LB-Skai Moore. Safety Julian Blackmon injured his right knee early in practice and did not participate in team drills. Leonard was not wearing a boot while watching Friday’s practice. Just a reminder that OT-Eric Fisher (physically unable to perform list) and DE-Dayo Odeyingbo (non-football injury list) remain sidelined.

 

Weekly Camp Schedule

-Saturday: 10:00-11:30 Practice

-Sunday: 10:00-11:45 Practice

-Monday Off day

-Tuesday: 10:00-11:45 Practice

-Wednesday: 10:00-11:20 Practice

-Thursday: 4:00-6:00 Joint practice with Panthers

-Friday: 4:00-6:00 Joint practice with Panthers

-Saturday: Off day

-Sunday: Preseason game vs. Panthers (1:00 PM)