INDIANAPOLIS – In front of an impressive opening day crowd, the Colts worked for about an hour to start their 2023 training camp at Grand Park.
The Colts will be off on Thursday before back-to-back sessions take place Friday morning and Saturday night.
Here are some takeaways from Day 1 of Colts training camp:
- Frankly, I was stunned to see the amount of work Shaquille Leonard got in on Wednesday. Sure, I thought Leonard would do the positional drills, and he did all of those. But then Leonard took part in three separate 11-on-11 periods, logging 2 plays each with the starters before exiting for the rest of the session (which lasted 5 total plays for the starters). Leonard even was on the field for a 7-on-7 period. He did all 3 types of practice periods—individual, 7-on-7 and 11-on-11. The quantity of Leonard’s work was shocking to me, especially after Chris Ballard had stressed the Colts would be easing No. 53 back in after missing 9 straight months of practice/game activity. “I feel way different than last year,” is what Leonard said after his first practice work since last fall. Leonard admitted he was emotional at practice on Wednesday, feeling some game-day nerves and even had trouble sleeping on Tuesday night. He even said he was surprised by the amount of work he got in. Once again, it’s clear how much Leonard loves, loves the game of football. “Football is the only place in my life where all the bad goes away,” is what Leonard said on Wednesday, calling the field is “safe haven.” This is not some Andrew Luck-type situation. Leonard is going to do everything he can to continue to play football, despite two back surgeries to try and correct a nerve issue. It’ll be interesting to see how Leonard’s activity plays out the next couple of weeks. But there’s no denying his first day was pretty impressive from a workload standpoint, especially when you factor he missed all of camp last year, and the first 10 practices of the 2021 camp.
- Gardner Minshew took all 15 starting reps during 11-on-11 periods Wednesday (3 separate 5-play periods). Minshew was 5-of-6, with a heavy amount of run-game in the Wednesday plan. Minshew completed passes to Zack Moss, Alec Pierce, Kylen Granson, Isaiah McKenzie and Evan Hull. Anthony Richardson then took all 9 second-team reps (3 separate 3-play periods). Richardson was 2-of-2 in his limited passing work, completing passes to Evan Hull and Ethan Fernea. As we saw in the spring, Richardson brings a definite leg component to his game, which is useful in the red zone. Richardson did have one big airmail of a throw during a 7-on-7 period. Sam Ehlinger took 6 reps with the third unit. Was Wednesday an indicator of how the reps will be divided up early in camp? “You’ll see the rotation as we go,” Shane Steichen said after Wednesday’s first practice. “That could change. We will flip-flop those guys with the 1s and 2s throughout camp.”
- Anthony Richardson met the media after his first training camp practice. Richardson said his goal in camp is to find more confidence in the playbook, stressing things are more mental than physical for him right now. Richardson added he’s starting to feel more natural in a throwing motion he’s tweaked a bit over the last year, wanting to use more legs and hips, move his feet faster, and be less reliant on strictly having a big arm.
- Wednesday had a red-zone focus to the work, with Shane Steichen wanting to keep things in a more confined space, as they ramp guys back up to their normal workload.
- When the day takes on more of a run-game focus, it’s harder to identify a defensive standout without pads on. The best defensive play though came from a diving Kenny Moore knocking away a would-be touchdown to Michael Pittman Jr.. This came on a 7-on-7 rep with Gardner Minshew throwing the ball.
- Jonathan Taylor was present at Wednesday’s practice, observing in his No. 28 t-shirt jersey, with no boot on his rehabbing ankle. Shane Steichen didn’t have any update on when to expect Taylor to come off the physically unable to perform list. “We’ll see how long that takes, but once he’s 100 percent healthy, he’ll be back out there,” is what Steichen said on Wednesday about Taylor on PUP. Taylor is not expected to meet the media until he is removed from the PUP list. Taylor battled a high ankle sprain last year, deciding the need for surgery back in January.
- How the Colts use Isaiah McKenzie this season will be something to keep an eye on. Expect some creative usage, if Wednesday’s practice was any indication.
- Early look at the kick returners from Wednesday: CB-Dallis Flowers, WR-Josh Downs, WR-Isaiah McKenzie, WR-Kody Case.
- Here is how the starting offense looked on Wednesday: QB-Gardner Minshew, RB-Zack Moss, WR-Michael Pittman Jr., WR-Alec Pierce, TE-Mo Alie-Cox, TE-Jelani Woods, LT-Bernhard Raimann, LG-Quenton Nelson, C-Ryan Kelly, RG-Will Fries, RT, Braden Smith.
- Here is how the starting defense looked on Wednesday: DE-Samson Ebukam, DT-Grover Stewart, DT-DeForest Buckner, DE-Kwity Paye, LB-Zaire Franklin, LB-Shaquille Leonard, LB-E.J. Speed, CB-Kenny Moore, CB-Dallis Flowers, S-Rodney Thomas II, S-Nick Cross.
- Guys that stood out at Wednesday’s practice: QB-Gardner Minshew, CB-Kenny Moore, LB-Shaquille Leonard
Injury Report: The following players did not appear to be participating at Wednesday’s practice: S-Julian Blackmon (hamstring), CB-JuJu Brents (hamstring). Shane Stiechen said the Colts expect Brents to return (and thus make his NFL practice debut) soon. The following players remain on the PUP or non-football injury list: RB-Jonathan Taylor (ankle), TE-Will Mallory (foot), DL-Tyquan Lewis (knee).
2023 Colts Training Camp Schedule
-7/28 (Friday): 10:00-11:15 AM practice, SOLD OUT
-7/29 (Saturday): 6:00-7:30 PM practice, SOLD OUT
-7/31 (Monday): 10:00-11:15 AM practice
-8/1 (Tuesday): 10:00-11:30 AM practice
-8/3 (Thursday): 9:00-10:45 AM practice
-8/5 (Saturday): 6:00-7:30 PM practice
-8/6 (Sunday): 2:00-3:45 PM practice
-8/8 (Tuesday): 9:00-10:30 AM practice
-8/10 (Thursday): 10:00-11:00 AM practice
-8/12 (Saturday): 1st preseason game at Buffalo (1:00)
-8/15 (Tuesday): 9:00-10:00 AM practice
-8/16 (Wednesday joint practices with Bears): 6:00-8:00 PM practice, SOLD OUT
-8/17 (Thursday joint practices with Bears): 6:00-8:00 PM practice, SOLD OUT
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