Colts Day Two Minicamp Notebook: Defense Gets The Better Of Jacoby Brissett
Colts Day Two Minicamp Notebook: Defense Gets The Better Of Jacoby Brissett
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INDIANAPOLIS – With Jim Irsay in attendance, the Colts held their second mini-camp practice of the spring on Wednesday afternoon.
Thursday’s final session of the spring is expected to be a very light practice, so this was the last serious look at the Colts’ vets and rookies during the offseason program.
Here is a notebook look from Day Two of mini-camp:
- The Colts again opened up in a nickel defense on Wednesday with the following 11 guys ‘starting’: DE-Justin Houston, DT-Margus Hunt, DT-Tyquan Lewis, DE-Jabaal Sheard, LB-Bobby Okereke, LB-Matthew Adams, CB-Rock Ya-Sin, CB-Pierre Desir, CB-Kenny Moore, S-George Odum and S-Malik Hooker. The defense was without the following ‘starters’: DT-Denico Autry, LB-Darius Leonard, CB-Quincy Wilson and S-Clayton Geathers.
- The Colts began Wednesday in a three wide receiver set with the following 11 guys ‘starting’: LT-Anthony Castonzo, LG-Quenton Nelson, C-Ryan Kelly, RG-Mark Glowinski, RT-Braden Smith, TE-Mo Alie-Cox, WR-T.Y. Hilton, WR-Devin Funchess, WR-Chester Rogers, RB-Marlon Mack, QB-Jacoby Brissett. Hilton was back to work after missing the last two weeks.
- It’s not often you say the defense gets the better of the offense consistently this time of year. But it’s mostly felt that way watching the Colts work in the spring. Jacoby Brissett just hasn’t been as sharp as he usually is in practice. Brissett was off on Wednesday, with the starting offense lacking much consistency in the passing game. To be fair to Brissett, he had one 7-on-7 session where Marlon Mack, Devin Funchess and Eric Ebron all dropped very catchable balls.
- Honestly, this sort of no full pad/no tackling setting isn’t great for Parris Campbell to truly show off his skillset. He’s a guy that can showcase his explosive nature much more in a live setting. On Wednesday, Campbell was primarily used out of the slot, touched the ball on a reverse and was a backup punt returner.
- With Quincy Wilson out on Wednesday, the Colts used these corners in their starting nickel: Pierre Desir, Rock Ya-Sin and Kenny Moore (slot). But reserves Nate Hairston and Jalen Collins made some plays in coverage. Hairston made a terrific leaping interception of Brissett. These two will need to continue that playmaking in camp, plus show consistent play on special teams, if they are going to secure a roster spot among a very deep cornerback group.
- There might have been some grabbing that went uncalled from Rock Ya-Sin, but he made a beautiful interception in a 1-on-1 rep against Krishawn Hogan. Ya-Sin got underneath Hogan and made the INT off of Jacoby Brissett. It was a notable play during a drill that you hardly ever see such playmaking.
- Wednesday was the first time we’ve heard from coordinators Nick Sirianni and Matt Eberflus since the end of the 2018 season. Some of the highlights from their media sessions are below.
- Sirianni on what time of year is all about: “I think that first part of last year before we even got into fundamentals – before you can start teaching fundamentals and technique, you have to teach them the offense, right? If they don’t know what to do then they are just going out running. So that first whole part of last year we were installing the offense. We were talking about fundamentals but not as much as we were talking about offense. So now, for everybody it’s a re-familiarization with the offense and what we started with this year. It’s quicker, everything was faster. ‘Hey, let’s re-familiarize ourselves with this.’ Well, we ran some of those plays 30 times, 40 times last year. Some of the new guys needed to kind of learn, but we were able to dive right into the fundamentals and technique. What we believe as a staff is that we are going to try to put our players in the best spots that we can possibly put them in. But it comes down to 1-on-1 matchups and because the parity in this league is so tight and the player that you are going against on the opposite side is a lot of times just as good as you are, it comes down to a lot of fundamentals and technique. So we were able to dive into that earlier on than what we did last year to this offseason to really preach that to get ourselves better as football players.”
- Sirianni on the balance of throwing too much at Parris Campbell right now: “Parris is picking it up very quickly and he’s picking up the techniques that we are asking him to do quickly. He is having a good OTA, mini-camp session. So again, we are just bringing him along at his pace. Sure we want him to know everything right away, but that’s just not realistic…When you get that type of athleticism, that type of speed, it really puts a lot of threat into the defense. You can just kind of visualize the defensive backs backing up because they are covering him and ‘I don’t want to get beat deep,’ right? So that is kind of the first things that start to float through your mind and then just how good he is with the ball in his hands. Not only can he stretch the field vertically, but you can get him the ball underneath. Ohio State did a great job last year of getting him the ball underneath and letting him run with it. It’s a simpler throw for the quarterback – right here as opposed to down the field and then let him go do all the work. So those were the two really exciting things to see that jumped off on tape. Then obviously his production for how many catches he had last year.”
- Sirianni on the next step for this rushing offense: “Obviously we want to improve in the running game. We don’t want to be the 20th ranked run game in the NFL next year. We want to be in the top-5. We know that if we are in the top-5 all of our goals are really attainable of what we want to do. That’s really what we have been working on. We have done a lot of runs in this OTA session and then obviously in mini-camp. Obviously, just perfecting that run game to try to get those games where we had those 200-yard games. It’s going to be hard to get 200-yard games, we get that. But be more consistent in running the football as far as it needs to be over 120 (yards) each game. So that’s where I would like to see us take our next stride and just be more consistent running the football and shoot for that top-five.”
- Eberflus on what Justin Houston has brought: “I think being in our scheme will certainly help him in terms of getting his hand in the dirt and getting off and attacking that way. I think that will lend to his natural abilities. You don’t just fall into 78.5 (career) sacks. But he knows how to rush the passer so it is important that we teach him the base fundamentals of the game and enhance his abilities with what he naturally does.”
- Eberflus on Ben Banogu moving to defensive end (for now): “You look at a guy like that that can play multiple spots. There are a couple things that you look at there when you are dealing with rookies. First of all, in terms of what can he do and how fast can he do it? What is his development in terms of that? So I look at a guy like Darius Leonard last year. You say, ‘Well, we know he can play WILL linebacker. Now, what can he do from there? So let’s make sure he gets this down first and then he can play MIKE sometimes in sub packages and all those different things. Now we can put him at a different spot and he can be on the edge rushing and he can do that in certain situations.’ So we let him grow into that. So you have to find a starting point for every player. Then see where can he ascend to? And to answer your question, we thought that moving (Banogu) now to play end is probably the best starting point for him relative to who he is, what he brings to the table and where can he impact our defense the most at the earliest fashion or the earliest way. So when we looked at him – we looked at him a little bit in drill work. We kept looking at him. We put all of our heads together – it was the whole defensive staff. It was Chris (Ballard). It was Frank (Reich). Then we decided, ‘Hey, let’s put him here and then we can build it from there.’ Can he do different things and put him in different spots? No question he can do that. But let’s get his feet on solid ground at one spot and then kind of develop him from there.”
- Eberflus on the depth of the cornerback group: “It’s great. We are always looking at who is going to be No. 1 and then all the way down to 6 or 7? When you have that much depth that is what you’re looking at. Who is going to be the No. 1 corner? Who is going to be No. 2? We don’t know the answers to that right now. We really don’t. It’s all competitive from one all the way to 5, to 6, to 7. So I think that’s great. It puts it on the players and lets them compete, lets them play and let it happen naturally. When we do that, it will be great to see how they line up.”
- I’d say Mo Alie-Cox has been the most consistent ‘starting’ pass catcher in the 5 open sessions to the media. It will be interesting to see if he can push Jack Doyle and/or Eric Ebron for any playing time.
- Two of the more notable offensive plays on Wednesday came via deep sideline receptions by Marcus Johnson (from Phillip Walker) and Nyheim Hines (from Jacoby Brissett).
- We haven’t talked much about rookie safety Khari Willis this spring. He’s been mostly a 2nd or 3rd team safety with Clayton Geathers sidelined.
- Former 2016 third-round pick Le’Raven Clark is in a contract year and is not locked into a roster spot. Normally, Clark is a reserve tackle. On Wednesday, he played some right guard, a spot I can hardly ever remember him being at in his NFL career.
- Reminder, here’s a look at some of the injured guys expected to be dialed back this spring. On Wednesday, guys sidelined included: DE-Denico Autry, WR-Deon Cain, TE-Jack Doyle, WR-Reece Fountain, S-Clayton Geathers, WR-Penny Hart, LB-Darius Leonard, QB-Andrew Luck, CB-Chris Milton, DE-Carrol Phillips, TE-Ross Travis, LB-Anthony Walker, RB-Jordan Wilkins, CB-Quincy Wilson (heavily wrapped right hand/wrist).
- Some of the guys that have dealt with injuries, but participated on Wednesday included: LB-Matthew Adams, WR-Parris Campbell, TE-Eric Ebron, S-Matthias Farley, WR-T.Y. Hilton, S-Malik Hooker, DE-Justin Houston, DE-Jabaal Sheard, DL-Jihad Ward, RB-Spencer Ware. Ebron progressed to some team work after returning to action this week. Hairston, Hilton and Ward all returned after missing Tuesday.
- Robert Mathis was in attendance at Wednesday’s practice. At one point, Mathis was talking with rookie Ben Banogu on the sideline as the rookie settles into more of a defensive end focus early on.
- The Colts will have 1 final mandatory mini-camp practice on Thursday, although it’s not expected to last very long.