INDIANAPOLIS – The full pads were brought out of storage on Tuesday, and the defense thrived with the physicality ramped up.
It was a red-zone focused session on Tuesday with the Colts beginning a stretch of three straight days on the practice field at Grand Park. Tackling to the ground was seen a couple of times by the 3rd-team units, but not by the starters.
Here is what was learned at Tuesday’s fourth practice of camp:
- Matt Ryan finished Tuesday afternoon 7-of-11 with completions to the following guys: Michael Pittman (3), Mo Alie-Cox, Parris Campbell, Jonathan Taylor, Nyheim Hines. The highlight was a beautiful throw and catch by Ryan to Pittman, which would have gone for at least 40 yards. It was a play-action in which Ryan and Pittman sold things on an initial pump fake, which had new corner Brandon Facyson biting hard. With that, Pittman was behind Facyson and Ryan delivered the ball in stride. Through 4 practices, Ryan is 27-of-36 in the full teamwork. Ryan’s completed his passes to the following guys: Michael Pittman (7), Mo Alie-Cox (5), Jonathan Taylor (4), Parris Campbell (4), Nyheim Hines (3), Ashton Dulin (1), Kylen Granson (1), Dezmon Patmon (1), Alec Pierce (1).
- While 7-of-11 is a fine day on the stat sheet, Ryan and the entire offense had some red-zone struggles on Tuesday. The veteran quarterback even had a couple of ball security issues on Tuesday. When the offense was put into a two-point competition to end the day, it was the defense winning two of those three situations, which led to the offense running suicides after practice. With the full pads on for the first time in camp, Frank Reich said the defense typically wins that first day of ‘hitting.’ That was the case on Tuesday. Overall, the defense won the vast majority of red-zone situations, no matter if it was the starters, backups or third team.
- No Shaquille Leonard to start camp has meant more of a focus on Bobby Okereke and Zaire Franklin. Okereke was very active on Tuesday in coverage, making several plays. With Leonard sidelined, the Colts have opted to turn to Franklin, and not E.J. Speed, in most starting situations. Gus Bradley’s arrival means some new thoughts on personnel. Are the Colts opting for the guy they’ve trusted over the years in Franklin, versus the more athletic Speed? Tuesday was a very nice day for the combination of Okereke and Franklin.
- The arrival of full pads means a truer evaluation of guys in the trenches. On Tuesday, we got a closer look at Bernhard Raimann in 1-on-1s. Raimann was stout in a live rep against Yannick Ngakoue, with Kwity Paye later getting the best of the rookie in a power rush. This is probably a good indicator of the early strengths/weaknesses for Raimann. He’s better handling speed than power. For now though, Raimann is only getting second-team reps at left tackle.
- It should shock no one if one of the Colts dominant personnel groupings this season involves both Jonathan Taylor and Nyheim Hines on the field at the same time. For a team that has deserved questions at wideout and tight end, a combination of Taylor and Hines together will (and should) be used a lot this season.
- There weren’t many offensive highlights on Tuesday. But Dezmon Patmon did make one of the few red-zone plays, catching a TD from Nick Foles. Patmon has had a quiet start to camp, with Mike Strachan sidelined.
- At this point, I’d be pretty surprised if an undrafted free agent didn’t make the team at linebacker. Now, who will that linebacker be? You have several guys making strong cases. That list would include JoJo Domann (Nebraska), James Skalski (Clemson), Forrest Rhyne (Villanova), Sterling Weatherford (Miami Ohio). One of these guys will make the 53-man roster.
- Jonathan Taylor, who was sporting a neck roll in the first full-padded practice of camp, has his starting quarterback’s attention. “It’s different in person,” Ryan says of his first impressions of the NFL’s leading rusher. “(Taylor) caught a screen pass in the first day in the indoor (facility) and he did something you just don’t see. You can watch as much tape as you want, but it’s different in person. My brother was at practice on Saturday and was like, ‘It’s amazing to watch that guy go through the ropes that they run through at the beginning. His movement is just different. Those other guys do it great behind him, but he’s at another level. So, he’s special. I think he’s really good and then you show up and he’s better than you thought.”
- Similar to last year, the Colts are moving pretty slow with their kicking battle. Early in Tuesday’s practice, both Rodrigo Blankenship and Jake Verity were 4-of-4, connecting from 32, 40, 46 and 52 yards. It was the first field goal action for either in four practices. “We are looking for consistency, production,” Reich said of the kicking battle. “We have two really good guys. We have been really happy with Rod and Jake looks good…A couple of years ago we made a huge deal about (the kicking battle) and did a bunch of extracurricular stuff. But this year we are just going to go down a normal course, the normal way you would handle it in training camp. It’ll work itself out.”
- Here is how the starting offense looked on Tuesday: QB-Matt Ryan, RB-Jonathan Taylor, RB-Nyheim Hines, WR-Michael Pittman, TE-Jelani Woods, TE-Kylen Granson, LT-Matt Pryor, LG-Quenton Nelson, C-Ryan Kelly, RG-Danny Pinter, RT, Braden Smith. TE-Mo Alie-Cox (knee) was back practicing on Tuesday, but his reps were a bit limited.
- Here is how the starting defense looked on Tuesday (before the normal starters entered later): DE-Yannick Ngakoue, DT-Grover Stewart, DT-DeForest Buckner (limited), DE-Kwity Paye, LB-Zaire Franklin, LB-Bobby Okereke, CB-Kenny Moore, CB-Brandon Facyson, CB-Stephon Gilmore, S-Julian Blackmon, S-Nick Cross.
- Guys that stood out at Tuesday’s practice for a variety of reasons: DE-Ifeadi Odeingbo, LB-Zaire Franklin, LB-James Skaliski, DE-Kameron Cline, LB-Bobby Okereke.
Injury Report: The following players remain on the PUP or non-football injury list: LB-Shaquille Leonard (knee), WR-Mike Strachan (knee). The following players also did not practice on Tuesday: DT-Chris Williams (left foot in a boot), OT-Dennis Kelly (knee). Following Tuesday’s practice, Frank Reich said Kelly will miss some time due to his knee injury. The Colts are still easing DL-Tyquan Lewis (knee) and S-Rodney McLeod (knee) back into team reps. DE-Kwity Paye got some attention to his left foot on Tuesday, but returned to practice later.
Weekly Camp Schedule
-Wednesday: 12:00 -1:30 Practice
-Thursday: 12:00 – 1:45 Practice
-Friday: Off day
-Saturday: Off day
-Sunday: 12:00 – 1:30 Practice
-Monday: 12:00 – 1:45 Practice
-Tuesday: Off day
Top 20 College Athletes With The Highest NIL Valuations
Funniest College Football Player Names Of 2023
Colts Notebook: Shane Steichen Talks Release Of Shaquille Leonard
Colts Cut Shaquille Leonard
Why Release Shaq Leonard Now?
5 Things Learned: Colts Finally Close Out Home Win
20 Last Place Punishments For Your 2023 Fantasy Football League
10 Things To Watch For After Colts Bye Week