INDIANAPOLIS – It’s the final week of offseason work until the rookies arrive.
The Colts are in their second week of their offseason program, despite virtually all the NFL attention on the draft this week.
Here’s a reminder of how the offseason program is divided up (from the NFL):
Phase One consists of the first two weeks of the program with activities limited to meetings, strength and conditioning, and physical rehabilitation only.
Phase Two consists of the next three weeks of the program. On-field workouts may include individual or group instruction and drills, as well as “perfect play drills,” and drills and plays with offensive players lining up across from offensive players and defensive players lining up across from defensive players, conducted at a walk through pace. No live contact or team offense vs. team defense drills are permitted.
Phase Three consists of the next four weeks of the program. Teams may conduct a total of 10 days of organized team practice activity, or “OTAs”. No live contact is permitted, but 7-on-7, 9-on-7, and 11-on-11 drills are permitted.
What did we learn from Matt Ryan, DeForest Buckner, Marcus Brady and Gus Bradley on Wednesday?
- Matt Ryan says this offensive system change ranks up there with the one he experienced from 2014-15 (going from offensive coordinator Dirk Koetter to Kyle Shannan) as the larges of his 15-year career. It’s more so in the “language” department, according to Ryan, with a lot of the same concepts being used here in Indy. Marcus Brady pointed out that he’s heard great things about how Ryan is working with the wideouts right now (coaches cannot be on the field with players until next week). It’s clear Ryan’s presence is already being felt, even outside the offensive room. DeForest Buckner shared on Wednesday that Ryan has a great ability to command a room’s attention when needed, yet still plenty able at building relationships with guys all over the roster.
- While Gus Bradley said he didn’t have a prior connection to Stephon Gilmore, the defensive coordinator was glad to welcome a certain skillset. Gilmore has a history of excelling as a press corner and that’s something Bradley wants to employ, even when they are playing zone coverage. This will be a change to monitor from how the Colts operated under Matt Eberflus.
- If you listen to Marcus Brady describe Nyheim Hines and his lack of usage last year, it’s totally fair to interpret that as another indictment of Carson Wentz’s quarterback play. Brady, along with Chris Ballard and Frank Reich, believe Hines will have a much bigger season in 2022. The second-year OC pointed to Ryan’s ability to “truly get through all of his progression,” as a QB that can find a guy like Hines in rhythm. Brady said the Colts had plans to get Hines involved last year but it didn’t pan out to the extent they wanted. Also, count Matt Ryan in the fan club of Hines. Ryan said he loves the work ethic of the former 4th round pick, specifically mentioning Hines’ hands and “special quickness.”
- Under Gus Bradley and new defensive line coach Nate Ollie (a Ball State product), the Colts defensive line will have a different focus this season. It will be all about getting vertical with immediate penetration from the D-line, compared to playing and reacting with blocks in years past. For DeForest Buckner, it’s the same system he played in at San Francisco. “We are blowing things up and everybody behind is cleaning things up,” is how Buckner described the new plan on Wednesday.
- Given his history with Yannick Ngakoue, Gus Bradley was quite happy when he heard that the Colts were pursuing him. Bradley was in Jacksonville when the Jaguars drafted Nagakoue in the 3rd round. And then the two reunited again last year in Las Vegas. The early thought is Ngakoue will remain in the LEO, primary rushing, role. Kwity Paye will play opposite as the bigger defensive end.
- With the roster at 64 guys, the Colts have ample room for roster space for the maximum number of 90 this time of year. Currently, the Colts have 7 draft picks. So, adding that amount to the current roster, there would still be room for 19 undrafted free agents. That’s a good size number as the Colts fill out their roster for OTAs starting next month.
- The Colts will have their mandatory minicamp June 7-9, with voluntary OTAs starting in late May. Veterans can head for summer break after that, with younger players staying in Indy for one more week for work. Again, similar to last year, expect a limited amount of on-field physicality this spring.