INDIANAPOLIS –.This week has brought the first NFL action for Anthony Richardson against a starting defense.
The Colts are in a midst of a 3-week OTA period, with 10 different sessions. Thursday was the 3rd OTA of the spring.
These are voluntary sessions, although attendance is very high. It’s the first time this spring that the Colts can practice in 11-on-11 periods with coaches on the field. Full pads are not allowed though.
Just a reminder, the media gets to watch 1 OTA session each week, but will be able to watch the entire 3-day minicamp coming up June 13-15.
Here are some takeaways from the Colts first open OTA session of the spring:
- On Thursday (and, once again, the media only watches one media session per week right now) Anthony Richardson doubled the reps of Gardner Minshew, with both getting four plays with the starers. It was Minshew getting the first look with the starters, on a 4-play period. Richardson followed with a 4-play period, with the second unit. The rookie then ended practice with another 4-play period, this one with the starters. Technically, Richardson got 8 plays in the 11-on-11 session (4 with the starters) with Minshew getting 4 plays (all with the starters).
- Shane Steichen said the plan has always been to split first-team reps with Minshew and Richardson. A rookie quarterback receiving half of the starting reps in the month of May is promising though for that percentage to grow as the practices continue this offseason. Steichen likes how Richardson has looked in his first week of NFL OTAs. “You got a really talented guy that comes in and to you want to see where he’s at, so let’s get him going early in the process and see where he’s at so far,” Steichen explained on Thursday. “Right now, when you get those reps over and over and over again, you become a better football player, especially learning new systems seeing different modes from the defense, right there’s a lot of stuff that’s going to get thrown at him and along with everybody else and what we can judge and see where he’s at…I’m really pleased where he’s at mentally. He made some big plays today. He made some great throws, great decisions. Some really next level stuff that I’ve seen over the last couple of days, so really pleased where he’s at.”
- Richardson went 5-of-6 in his full-team work. His best ball of the day was a lofted one down the seam to Kylen Granson. His rockiest work of the day was a 1-of-3 period in 7-on-7 going against the starters, with Julian Blackmon having a near pick.After Thursday’s practice, Ashton Dulin pointed out Richardson is learning more about that touch growth, and you saw that on the ball to Granson, specifically.
- Minshew went 3-of-3 in his full-team work. Minshew had a deep connection down the sideline to newcomer Isaiah McKenzie. In watching Minshew operate, his accuracy certainly stands out. In both the 11-on-11 and 7-on-7 periods, Minshew got the initial run with the starters.
- Shaquille Leonard was observing on Thursday. Is it possible we don’t see Leonard until the first day of training camp? Certainly. Shane Steichen didn’t have any public timetable for Leonard, just saying he’s “progressing well.” Leonard needed his first back surgery last summer stemmed from a poor response during last year’s first week of OTAs. The second surgery then came in November. Leonard is optimistic about the second surgery doing the trick for him.
- With the Colts down several notable tight ends on Thursday (see more below), Kylen Granson had plenty of opportunities. And Granson had a nice afternoon. This is a big third season for Granson, especially in a crowded tight end room. Shane Steichen is a big fan of the route running.
- For the most part, the Colts are easing their rookie class along. Fifth-round pick Darius Rush had the rookie highlight of the day, picking off Sam Ehlinger in a 7-on-7 session and returning it for a ‘touchdown.’
- Also, fellow rookie Blake Freeland got the starting reps at right tackle with Braden Smith (leg) out on Thursday. It’s a reminder of how important Freeland is as being just one injury away from major playing time. The Colts starting tackles on Thursday was a rookie in Freeland and a second-year guy in Bernhard Raimann.
- Remember, this time last year we were embarking on an awkward ‘sit-in’ from Kenny Moore as he was upset with his contract. So, for the first time in his career, Moore decided not to participate in the voluntary OTA part of the offseason. Nothing developed out of it, with Moore returning for the start of training camp. Although his 2022 season was subpar. It doesn’t appear the Colts have any of those in 2023.
- Among the Colts watching on Thursday: WR-Josh Downs (knee), WR-Michael Pittman (personal), RB-Jonathan Taylor (ankle), CB-Isaiah Rodgers Sr., LB-Shaquille Leonard (back), OT-Braden Smith (leg), DE-Rashod Berry, TE-Jelani Woods (hamstring), TE-Drew Ogletree (knee), TE-Will Mallory, CB-JuJu Brents (wrist). WR-Alec Pierce was off to the side during the team period. Pittman’s absence was due to his wife Kianna welcoming their second child (a boy) into the world.
- With the names above sitting out, the Colts starting offense on Thursday was: QB-Gardner Minshew, RB-Zack Moss, TE-Mo Alie-Cox, WR-Ashton Dulin, WR-Mike Strachan, WR-Isaiah McKenzie, LT-Bernhard Raimann, LG-Quenton Nelson, C-Ryan Kelly, RG-Will Fries, RT-Blake Freeland. The starting defense: DE-Kwity Paye, DE-Samson Ebukam, DT-DeForest Buckner, DT-Grover Stewart, LB-Zaire Franklin, LB-E.J. Speed, CB-Tony Brown, CB-Kenny Moore, CB-Dallis Flowers, S-Julian Blackmon, S-Rodney Thomas.
- The Colts will have 3 OTAs again next week, with 4 more the following the week. Then the team will have a mandatory 3-day minicamp, June 13-15, to conclude their 9-week spring offseason program.
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