INDIANAPOLIS – Mother Nature cooperated and the Colts got some needed work in against the Carolina Panthers on Thursday.
The Colts and Panthers practiced for about 2 hours on Thursday at Grand Park, with the intensity clearly ramped up compared to previous team vs. team sessions.
What did we learn at the first joint practice of the week?
- Frank Reich was pretty pleased with his quarterback play on Thursday, and he should have been. Before we break Jacob Eason and Sam Ehlinger down individually, let’s focus on them as a pair with the two splitting starting reps again on Thursday. The two combined to go 20-of-26 (12-of-15 when running the 1st unit) against the Panthers, with no turnovers. That’s impressive, especially when you factor in this was their first time ever going against another NFL defense, the starting O was missing its left tackle, left guard and on to a third-string center. Plus, it was the windiest practice day of camp. Thursday was one of the better combined days of the entire camp for Eason and Ehlinger.
- Eason got the initial look with the starters. He finished the day 8-of-11, and 5-of-6 with the starters. Eason made his best throw of camp in the red zone, delivering a frozen rope to Kylen Granson for a touchdown. Eason was sacked a couple of times. He completed balls to Zach Pascal 2x, Parris Campbell 2x, Dezmon Patmon, Mike Strachan T.Y. Hilton, and Granson.
- Ehlinger went 12-of-15, going 7-of-9 with the starters. He started with 9 straight completions. He was sacked once and had to scramble out of bounds on another play. Ehlinger had several really nice throws in the red zone on Thursday. With the wind picking up, Ehlinger still had plenty of arm to hit on some connections in the red zone. Ehlinger completed passes to Mike Strachan 3x, Michael PIttman 2x, Jordan Thomas, Benny LeMay, Zach Pascal, Dezmon Patmon, Jonathan Taylor, Jack Doyle and T.Y. Hilton. Thursday was another highly efficient day for Ehlinger. If the Colts were playing their first regular season game tomorrow, Ehlinger starting would not be a crazy idea at all. There are certainly limitations to his game, but he’s been shown some pretty good consistency when rising up to the first team.
- The offensive line, particularly the tackles, had some struggles on Thursday, with Julie’n Davenport again as the starting left tackle. Braden Smith had some issues in his return to work. Danny Pinter (foot) got hurt early in practice, so the Colts were down to third-stringer Joey Hunt with the starters.
- Ehlinger and the offense wasn’t as crisp in 7-on-7, with some miscommunication on a couple of occasions.
- Our own Brendan King was down watching the defense on Thursday, so check out his complete update on the site. But in listening to Panthers head coach Matt Rhule after Thursday’s practice, he was not pleased with how his offense looked against the Indy D, particularly the passing offense. Safety George Odum had a pick when the 2s were on the field. Bobby Okereke said the Colts D had the upper hand over the Panthers O on Thursday’s practice. I’ll be checking out the defense more tomorrow.
- Some of the highlights from 1-on-1 (Colts offense vs. Panthers defense): Dezmon Patmon hauling in a jump ball, Mike Strachan on a comeback and then beating No. 8 overall pick Jaycee Horn over the middle. Michael Pittman did have a couple of drops, but responded well in team drills.
- Fishers product Jeremy Chinn had a big hit of Parris Campbell, with the Colts wideout still holding onto the ball. The hitting was ramped up a bit, with one mini scuffle (Campbell was involved) on Thursday. Frank Reich and Matt Rhule had their captains come together before practice to make sure both teams were on the same page tempo/intensity wise.
- Carson Wentz and Quenton Nelson were both again watching practice on Thursday. But Nelson had a boot on his injured right foot, something we had not seen in previous days. Kwity Paye (right ankle) was in a boot watching practice. Frank Reich said the injury to Paye is ‘minor’ with the team optimistic that it won’t be a long-term issue.
- On Thursday morning, Colts Owner Jim Irsay hopped on the Dan Patrick Show. Irsay was asked if he expects Carson Wentz to start Week 1: “I hope that he is. But I told Carson, ‘Hey, you have to be 100 percent before you come back. None of us want you to rush it. We want to look back 2 years from now, 4 years from now, 6 years from now and say this is his 101st consecutive start, or whatever. That’s what it’s about. My biggest goal is to do anything I possibly could and give the best atmosphere to stay healthy and stay on the field. He’s a tough guy and he wants it as much as anyone. I think it’s just a question of getting it into the football gods, call it what you want, but just in that groove. Obviously he’s a big, strong guy. He’s a competitor. He’s a tough guy. He’s everything that you’re looking for and I don’t think there’s a question that he will (succeed) if he stays healthy and on the field. No question in my mind, he will be a top 5 or 6 quarterback.” Irsay added in his camp media session later on Thursday that the Colts will not be putting Wentz onto the field until the QB is at 100 percent.
- Irsay spoke to the local media during Thursday’s practice. Irsay said he thinks the Colts will stay in-house to go with a starting QB, if Carson Wentz can’t go to start the season. The Owner added that ‘time will tell’ though on that answer becoming a definite.
- Guys that stood out at Thursday’s practice: RB-Benny LeMay, S-George Odum, QB-Sam Ehlinger, QB-Jacob Eason, WR-Mike Strachan, CB-Kenny Moore.
- 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).
- The Colts will have one more joint practice against the Carolina Panthers on Friday, with that session also starting at 4:00.
Injury Report: The following players did not appear to be participating at Thursday’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), DE-Kwity Paye (ankle), DT-DeForest Buckner (foot). Frank Reich said the Colts are being extra cautious with Buckner. The Colts had these injuries after practice RB-Nyheim Hines (got his leg whipped), C-Danny Pinter (foot), E.J. Speed (knee) and S-Shawn Davis. Speed’s looked the most serious, as he went down immediately in a special teams drill grabbing his knee.
Weekly Camp Schedule
-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
-Friday: Off day
-Saturday: Preseason game at Vikings (8:00 PM)