INDIANAPOLIS – Finally, the Colts are experiencing a bit of normalcy to their spring offseason program.
Don’t expect any uptick in physicality this spring, but the Colts are planning to have very close to, if not, 100 percent attendance for their voluntary spring work. The program will span 9 weeks (8 weeks for veterans), with attendance rising to the entire roster in the coming week or two.
What did we learn from Frank Reich, and Colts players, in their first spring media session of the year?
- Reich shared that the Colts offense will look about 10-20 percent different this season, with the arrival of Matt Ryan. While some of that will come from Ryan wanting to implement a bit of his own language and concepts, dialing up more opportunities for yards after catch, thanks to improved timing from the QB should be part of that change. Sure, Ryan might not challenge as many DBs with eye-popping arm talent and the running ability from RPOs won’t be as immense, but those are some of the pros and cons from the change at QB.
- On the flip side of things, Reich said the defensive changes with Gus Bradley is probably around 30 percent. For the first time since 2018, the Colts are learning a new defense with Matt Eberflus now in Chicago. Bradley isn’t going to overhaul things, keeping a 4-man front. But it’s clear from even the few personnel moves (Yannick Ngakoue and Stephon Gilmore) that some tweaks are coming. In my opinion, this is a good thing. The defense had reached a bit of a ceiling under Eberflus. Some fresh ideas and perspective should be welcomed from Bradley, who brings an entirely new Colts staff to the defensive side of the ball.
- We did get a little T.Y. Hilton update on Wednesday. Reich brought up Hilton’s name on his own saying we will “see how things play out” when talking about the plan at wide receiver during next week’s draft. Hilton, 32, remains on the open market more than a month into free agency. The Colts have not shut the door on a return of Hilton, but the draft could have some impact on this marriage continuing for an 11th season. Again, Reich believes the Colts have someone who will emerge from a very unproven group of wideouts currently on the roster. But the head coach acknowledged that some bolstering could (should?) come at wide receiver and/or tight end during the draft.
- When it comes to debating the physicality of an NFL offseason, no Colts player has more say in that than Ryan Kelly. As a member of the NFLPA executive board, Kelly has league-wide impact on how the NFL handles this voluntary part of the offseason. While Kelly admitted that the 2-week spring period the Colts players agreed to last spring wasn’t enough time to get ready for a season, he is a big believer in straying away from anything too physical this time of year. It’s about camaraderie and building strength in the weight room to prepare for training camp/17-game season, Kelly said of the spring. It is wild to note that Kelly is the longest tenured Colts with the retirement of Jack Doyle and Hilton on the open market.
- It’s pretty rare when the NFL becomes a place where a player starts at a certain position for the first time in his entire football career. That appears to in the cards for Danny Pinter at right guard this coming season. A tight end turned offensive tackle at Ball State, to a center in spot duty for Ryan Kelly the last two years, Pinter has never started a game at right guard (in the NFL, college or high school). The Colts have long gushed about the potential of Pinter, a 5th round pick in 2020. So, with Mark Glowinski (Giants) and Chris Reed (Vikings) exiting in free agency, it’s Pinter as the lead guy there entering the offseason. While Pinter’s transition to more full-time guard duties shouldn’t be too taxing, his days of catching a touchdown now lining up in the interior of the offensive line are probably over.
- Kwity Paye was the other player made available to the media on Wednesday. Paye harped on the mental focus for him this offseason. With the suggestion of some new reading material by Paye’s financial advisor, the second-year defensive end used the words “relentless, savage mentality, straining” to describe the mental emphasis for him in 2022. Paye added that he’s long been an admirer of Yannick Ngakoue so he’s very excited to work up close with him. Paye had 4.0 sacks and 10 quarterback hits as a rookie, which were a tad overwhelming.
- The Colts will have their mandatory minicamp June 7-9. Veterans can head for summer break after that, with younger players staying in Indy for one more week for work. Again, expect a limited amount of on-field physicality this spring. Reich did say the Colts have made a few small tweaks to their strength and conditioning program.