INDIANAPOLIS – Summer vacation is here for Colts veterans.
Rookies and young players are still in Indianapolis for one more week of offseason work, but the major 7-on-7 and 11-on-11 sessions of the spring are done.
Here are my 7 biggest takeaways from the Colts offseason program:
1. Ankle And Back Watch For Darius Leonard
Unexpected injury news leading to June surgery is never a good thing.
Especially for a player who has brought a Hall of Fame level of playmaking to your defense. And one who prides himself on providing constant energy.
Darius Leonard’s back surgery last week is expected to sideline him for some of training camp. If everything goes according to plan for Leonard, the Colts believe he will be ready for the start of the regular season.
Whether you listen to Frank Reich or Leonard, there’s a bit of confusion on if the back and ankle/calf injuries are related or not.
Putting that weirdness to the side, we know Leonard is also going to go about 8 months without any football specific activities, so seeing how his body responds to that, in a short period of time before the season opener, will be a huge thing to watch.
2. Matt Ryan’s Timing
Whatever the phrase—throwing with anticipation, finding simple, elite processing—the Colts are uber confident in their new quarterback.
They are extremely comfortable watching Matt Ryan operate things.
While the outlook was positive surrounding Carson Wentz this time last year, the excitement level seems to have ascended with Ryan.
It’s a different style quarterback under center in 2022 and the Colts are eager to see Ryan’s continued growth as things start to get realer at Grand Park.
3. Alec Pierce Emerging
In last week’s minicamp, we started to see rookie Alec Pierce grow into a few more first-team reps.
Both Matt Ryan and Frank Reich feel that Pierce can handle some early responsibilities, which is not a slam dunk in projecting college wideouts to the next level.
When you watch Pierce operate, the smoothness of him athletically is one of the first things that stand out. You can easily tell he comes from a family of high-level athletes.
4. Kenny Moore Showed Up
Kenny Moore’s time on the field in the spring was short, just one 7-on-7 session in minicamp before getting hurt last Tuesday.
Moore’s presence at minicamp, despite his contract issues, meant he did not get fined.
When Moore met the media last week, he shied away from getting too deep into the business side of things. It’s clear though there’s some disconnect between his camp and the Colts.
Will that be resolved in the next month?
If Moore wants to make a giant statement, he will sit out some of training camp, which would cost $50,000 per day.
Even with Moore’s current stance, it’s hard to see him going to that degree, especially after showing up to the mandatory minicamp, where the fine for missing would have been around $15,000.
5. Great On Julian Blackmon Front
The best injury news from the spring has to be Julian Blackmon’s Achilles recovery.
It was quite the site to see Blackmon on the field for positional drills, and then full speed 7-on-7 sessions in minicamp.
Remember, Blackmon tore his left Achilles in an October practice last year.
Yet here he was in the spring, participating at the same level of any other starter.
Maybe the Colts will ease him into 11-on-11, full-padded sessions early at Grand Park.
Still though, Blackmon should definitely be on the field come Week 1.
6. Nyheim Hines, Hello Fantasy Owners
Frank Reich alerted fantasy owners a few weeks ago on the plans for Nyheim Hines in 2022.
Well, watching Hines work with Matt Ryan this spring and you clearly saw why the Colts expect the usage of No. 21 to rise this fall.
Hines is a unique weapon and the Colts are trying to tap more into that. Hines worked with the wideouts during positional drills this spring, and then took that to the 7-on-7 sessions, often times getting open for Ryan to find him.
It would be no surprise to see Hines catch the second most ball of any player on the team this season.
7. T.Y. Hilton Getting A Call?
The Colts wanted to use these recent 3 weeks of OTAs/minicamp to decide whether or not they needed to add a veteran wideout before training camp.
With T.Y. Hilton still on the open market, this would involve his status, after he’s played the last 10 years for the Colts.
Frank Reich always believes in his roster. So it’s up to Chris Ballard to decide if what he saw from his unproven wideout group is enough to roll into Grand Park.
In the few practice viewings to the media, it was hard to see a wideout or two truly emerging to squelch any concerns about the lack of experience in that room.