INDIANAPOLIS – The Colts are in the midst of a lighter two-day stretch, with no full pads on at Tuesday’s practice.
That didn’t mean a shortage of info on Tuesday, with rookie Sam Ehlinger getting his first starting reps of camp.
What were the takeaways from the Colts 11th day on the practice field?
- First, let’s start with the decision for the Colts to change up the starting quarterback reps (Jacob Eason and Sam Ehlinger each took two periods of work with the starters on Tuesday). After saying the Colts were not going to change things up on Saturday, Reich and company changed their minds following Sunday’s practice and Monday’s off day. “It wasn’t that Jacob was doing anything wrong, this is a meritocracy and Sam has looked good so decided to split it up,” Reich explained on Tuesday. “It was just, ‘Sam has really been good. He’s been solid every day. It’s fair. It’s right.’ By switching those, I don’t feel like we are losing much with Jacob getting reps with the 2s. It’s more about giving Sam an opportunity.” Reich said the two guys will likely split reps this week, including the joint sessions with the Panthers on Thursday and Friday. But Eason “will probably” start Sunday’s preseason opener. Eason was the starting quarterback for the first and third team periods on Tuesday, with Ehlinger quarterbacking the first team during the second and fourth team periods. This was one of Eason’s better, if not the best, days of camp.
- Jacob Eason went 9-of-10 (4-of-5 with the starters) on Tuesday. He completed passes to 9 different guys: Michael Pittman, Parris Campbell, Jack Doyle, Dezmon Patmon, Jordan Wilkins, Nyheim Hines, Darius Anderson, Farrod Green, DeMichael Harris. Eason also had several nice throws in 7-on-7 to T.Y. Hilton, too. It was a pretty solid day for Eason. He was bailed out a bit by Dezmon Patmon hauling in an underthrown deep ball, but the fact that Eason even took that chance was a good sign. One of Eason’s best plays was him side stepping some pressure, dropping his motion to a side-arm angle and completing a pass to Harris for a nice gain. That’s another aspect to Eason’s game the Colts feel like he can bring to QB. Eason says he feels more confident compared to where he was earlier in camp, and is “smoother and more efficient” from when he first took snaps in place of Wentz. Reich liked how both QBs performed on Tuesday, noting Eason responded well to the demotion.
- Sam Ehlinger went 5-of-11 (4-of-6 with the starters) on Tuesday. It was Ehlinger’s least efficient day in a while, although he was better with the starters. He completed passes to T.Y. Hilton, Farrod Green, Nyheim Hines, DeMichael Harris and Michael Pittman. What did Ehlinger think of his first taste of starting action? “I thought it went well,” the rookie said. “Just being in the huddle with those guys. My first snap I came up there and saw they were in press man across the board, and I had a little stop route to T.Y. I wasn’t turning that down. I’m throwing it to him. So it was cool. The speed is a little bit different. But I thought it was crisp. It felt good.”
- Reich was asked on Tuesday how long he can split reps between Eason and Ehlinger before committing to one as the starter for Week 1…if Carson Wentz is going to miss the start of the season. “We are still in that phase,” Reich said. “As we get closer, we will make that determination. I think it’s probably before that last preseason game (August 27th), even though there’s not that fourth preseason game. You still have two weeks (until the regular season opener) and we will still be determining where Carson and (Quenton Nelson) are at that time. I think it’ll sort itself out, so I’m not really worried about.”
- Tuesday was the first time we’ve seen Carson Wentz or Quenton Nelson since their surgeries last week (Wentz last Monday, Nelson last Tuesday). This is a good sign, but we also have to note that the first real test to where they are at rehab wise will come in the next 7-to-10 days as they start to do some stuff on the field. That’s when the Colts will get a better gauge on their return dates. “Very encouraging,” Reich said of those guys being present, without any boots on noticeable limps. “As we’ve said, with this surgery, we are 8 days out with Carson, 7 for Q, we said after two weeks that’s when you get a feel for where they are going to be. Obviously, as we’ve said, we think both are doing very well so good to have him out there today.”
- With Braden Smith (boot on his left foot) on a maintenance day, the Colts starting offense was without 4 starters up front. That was not ideal for Jacob Eason and Sam Ehlinger. I counted around a handful of sacks on Tuesday. With Smith out, the Colts starting offensive line was this: LT-Julie’n Davenport, LG-Chris Reed, C-Danny Pinter, RG-Mark Glowinski, RT-Will Holden. It was Davenport’s first chance with the starters. He had a couple of false starts on Tuesday.
- Some highlights from 1-on-1 reps: Jack Doyle beating Khari Willis, Parris Campbell beating Anthony Chesley, Kenny Moore beating Zach Pascal, Dezmon Patmon beating Marvell Tell, Andre Chachere with an INT of Sam Ehlinger, Mike Strachan separating for a deep TD, Michael Pittman beating Xavier Rhodes, Parris Campbell beating Kenny Moore, T.J. Carrie beating Dezmon Patmon, Nyheim Hines beating Khari Willis.
- The Colts are continuing to interchange cornerbacks T.J. Carrie and Andre Chachere as starting safeties next to Khari Willis.
- Darius Leonard made his camp debut on Tuesday and you could probably hear him from Carmel. Leonard was on a pitch count but was his lively self on the practice field. In Leonard’s absence, E.J. Speed is having a strong camp.
- Just a reminder, the initial roster cut comes next Tuesday. That’s from 90 guys to 85, with 5 more being cut the following Tuesday (August 24th) and then the big one down to 53 (August 31st).
- Before Thursday’s practice, the Colts made a roster move by signing LB-Curtis Bolton and waived OT-Jake Benzinger.
- Guys that stood out at Tuesday’s practice: LB-E.J. Speed, RB-Benny LeMay, WR-Parris Campbell, LB-Bobby Okereke, DL-Isaac Rochell.
- The Colts will have a short 60-minute practice on Wednesday, with the joint practices against the Carolina Panthers coming Thursday and Friday.
Injury Report: The following players did not appear to be participating at Tuesday’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), OT-Braden Smith (foot), DT-DeForest Buckner (foot).
Weekly Camp Schedule
-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)
-Monday: Off day
-Tuesday: 10:00-11:30 Practice
-Wednesday: 10:00-11:30 Practice
-Thursday: 10:00-11:30 Practice