INDIANAPOLIS – We have reached the mid-way point of the Colts 2021 training camp at Grand Park.
Sunday marked the 10th of 19 practices for this year’s camp.
Here is what was learned at Sunday’s morning practice.
- With little help from pass protection, Jacob Eason went 12-of-18, with an interception to T.J. Carrie on Friday. Eason completed passes to Jack Doyle 3x, Zach Pascal 2x, Nyheim Hines 2x, Jonathan Taylor 2x, Parris Campbell, Michael Pittman, Marlon Mack. It was another up and down day from Eason, who also didn’t recognize the pressure and get rid of it as quickly as he should have. He struggled early, with his interception coming on an overthrow in the direction of T.Y. Hilton. He then was perfect in the third team period of the day (4-of-4) before an inefficient 2-minute drill to end practice. Eason did get the ball much more vertical than Sam Ehlinger with the second team, but the results were mixed.
- Sam Ehlinger finished Sunday 12-of-15, with a late pick. Ehlinger lived with the check downs all practice long, before scrambling to find Dezmon Patmon for a huge gain in the 2-minute drill. Particularly in 7-on-7 on Sunday, you noticed the lack of top-level arm strength with Ehlinger. This is something to watch, especially if he ever were to get into a game, with an opposing defense specifically game-planning for him at QB. When Ehlinger is challenged outside the numbers, that tests his arm. The second-team’s passing offense is very methodical with Ehlinger leading the way.
- Sunday was a reminder of the Colts have a couple Day 3 drafted QBs who have never put on an NFL jersey in a game, and the injuries on offense aren’t aiding things. Passing offense = growing pains right now.
- A week out from the preseason opener and expect Jacob Eason to play more than a normal starting QB would in Week 1 of the preseason: “Yeah, absolutely,” Frank Reich said on Sunday when asking if Eason would be treated different than a normal starter in the preseason. “He will play more. I don’t know exactly how much yet, but he will definitely play a lot more. We’ve talked about what rotation we want because I have to consider all the guys. We’ll get some of our staters out there and he’ll still be in there. I’m looking forward to seeing him. And obviously those two days of work against the Panthers, those are game-like, as far as what we are concerned.” Reich later added that with 3 preseason games this year, the starters might not play a ton in that third preseason game.
- It’s been a quiet start to camp for T.Y. Hilton. I’m not totally shocked by this. His previous work with Jacob Eason is non-existent, with Grand Park being the first time that the two have thrown together in practice. “Just continuing to grow,” Hilton said of his chemistry with Eason. “It’s going to take time. But we are going to continue to work, and work. And that’s what practice is for. We are going to continue to get better and get side throws. And when it’s time to go to work, we’ll work.” I think Hilton’s role this season will be more in the big play/timely manner than in the 6 or 7-catch type of performer.
- After 7 straight practices with Sam Tevi as the starting left tackle, Will Holden returned to the starting lineup. Holden started the first two days of camp at left tackle, but this was his first full-padded practice with the starters. It was a rough practice for the backup offensive tackles. The Colts actually had Julie’n Davenport at left tackle with the second team and Tevi at right tackle.
- Yes, the defensive front feasted at Sunday’s practice. Kemoko Turay, Kwity Paye, Al-Quadin Muhmmad, Isaac Rochell, E.J. Speed all got involved in the sack-fest. What was even more impressive is all this pressure came on a day with DeForest Buckner watching. On one 11-on-11 play, you had Paye showing off his power and then Turay on the other side bringing the speed. It led to a sack and was a glimpse into what the Colts hope is a DE combo for years to come.
- On Saturday, it was the versatile and trustworthy T.J. Carrie getting some starting looks at safety, next to Khari Willis. On Sunday, the Colts had cornerback/safety Andre Chachere back with the starters.
- Reich was asked on Sunday about OT-Eric Fisher (Achilles) in his rehab: “Just watching a couple of workouts, I think he looks really good. In fact, I saw him do something the other day and I yelled over, ‘Put some pads on him.’ I thought he looked that good. But more importantly, just talking to him, he’s got the eye of the tiger. You can just tell that this guy is locked in. That’s what is most important to me, that a player has a mindset of I have to fight to get back Week 1, Week 2, whatever it is. I just sense that the man is doing everything he can to get back the very first day that he can be back and not a second later. That’s what I sense from him.”
- The Colts have another major extension done from the 2018 draft class. On Sunday morning, Darius Leonard inked a 5-year deal worth $99.25 million (per NFL Network). Is that massive money for an off-ball linebacker? Without a doubt. But in this Colts defense, the WILL linebacker means so much. Plus Leonard’s rare ball production and his presence as a leader only further adds to the Colts believing he’s worth being paid the most of any off-ball LB. Leonard has yet to practice this camp due to June ankle surgery. Reich said this on Saturday about Leonard’s absence: “We’re just playing it smart. He’s obviously a very valuable player to us and just taking that extra step, going that extra mile-plus, to make sure he’s ready to step back out there.” Leonard, who was heading for a running session after Sunday’s practice said he’s hoping to make his camp debut next week. As far as extensions, Nyheim Hines is probably next on the list. It’s no guarantee Hines gets an extension before the start of the season, but he fits some criteria of a rookie contact running back deserving of a multi-year second deal.
- No need to worry about complacency from Leonard after signing this deal. His self-motivation is unlikely anything you’ll see. Frank Reich loves the ‘juice’ that Leonard brings and what No. 53 really means for the Colts: “He doesn’t know how to turn it off,” Reich says of Leonard. “He has so much pride in how he plays and how he performs and the standard that he holds himself to, that would be the least of my worries“. Leonard said he is looking to build his dream home on 40 acres of land down south with this money.
- Rookie safety Shawn Davis (hamstring) made his camp debut on Sunday. Depth at safety seems to be up in the air at this point.
- With the Colts down 4 tight ends at Saturday’s practice, they added a TE on Sunday morning by signing Graham Adomitis. The Colts have familiarity with Adomitis as he was with the team during the 2021 rookie mini-camp on a tryout basis. Adomitis was an undrafted free agent out of Princeton this year. To make room for Adomitis, the team waived-injured WR-Gary Jennings.
- Guys that stood out at Sunday’s practice: DL-Tyquan Lewis, RB-Jordan Wilkins, DE-Kemoko Turay, TE-Andrew Vollert, WR-Dezmon Patmon, RB-Nyheim Hines.
- The Colts will have their third off day from camp on Monday, before morning practices again on Tuesday and Wednesday. The Panthers come to Grand Park for joint sessions Thursday and Friday.
Injury Report: The following players did not appear to be participating at Sunday’s practice: LB-Darius Leonard (ankle), C-Ryan Kelly (elbow), QB-Carson Wentz (foot), DT-Taylor Stallworth (hamstring), LG-Quenton Nelson (foot), LB-Jordan Glasgow (back), TE-Mo Alie-Cox (knee), TE-Noah Togiai, LB-Skai Moore, WR-Ashton Dulin, S-Julian Blackmon (knee), TE-Kyeln Granson (knee), DT-DeForest Buckner (foot). Following Sunday’s practice, Reich said Buckner’s foot injury is not a major issue. “He came out good, made progress,” Reich said. “With the day off (Monday), we just said let’s just beg certain and be smart and make sure he doesn’t’ have a setback. We are still taking it day-by-day but things are trending in the right direction.”
Weekly Camp Schedule
-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)
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