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INDIANAPOLIS – It’s time to welcome a different color jersey to Grand Park.
On Monday morning, the Colts held their final ‘blue vs. white’ practice of camp, with the Cleveland Browns now coming to Westfield on Wednesday and Thursday.
It was a shortened session on Monday that lasted just 1 hour and 15 minutes, with the Colts having a team bonding activity coming in the afternoon, instead of having their normal meetings/walk through.
Here are some tidbits from Monday’s 14th practice of Training Camp:
- The play of the day on Monday led to a raucous reaction from the Indy defense. In a matchup we’ve seen a lot this camp, it was Devin Funchess against Rock Ya-Sin in man coverage. In what appeared to be a hitch route for Funchess, the rookie corner had blanket coverage and ripped the ball from Funchess’ grasp. Normally, you would see such a play lead to an incompletion with the ball bouncing on the ground. But this one had Ya-Sin holding onto the ball and returning it for a touchdown. The defense roared and cornerbacks coach Jonathan Gannon even ran over to Chris Ballard to hug the GM. It was one of the best plays we’ve seen all camp long. “What a great play,” Frank Reich said after Monday’s abbreviated practice. “(Funchess) actually runs a pretty good route. The throw was actually just a little bit off and Rock just makes a heck of a play. That’s just become what he’s doing. No surprise, but a great play by Rock.”
- After Ya-Sin’s pick six, he started to take more and more first-team reps, when the Colts went to their nickel package. The rookie is closing that gap on Quincy Wilson quickly, whereas Anthony Walker has maintained a slight lead on Bobby Okereke at the MIKE battle. Walker had an interception on Monday in the red zone off a deflected ball.
- Monday’s offensive highlight came at the end, after the starting offense went nowhere in its two-minute rep. With Chad Kelly at quarterback (Kelly and Phillip Walker seemed to rotate No. 2 reps all throughout Monday’s practice), Deon Cain fought through a pass interference penalty by rookie Marvell Tell to make a tremendous deep grab, by also adjusting to the ball in the air. And to finish off the drive, Cain caught a TD from Kelly. I think it’s time for Cain to earn some starting reps. T.Y. Hilton has taken notice of Cain’s play this camp: “Every day he’s out there, he’s making plays, big plays. He’s making tough catches, acrobatic catches. The sky’s the limit for them.”
- The extended absence for rookie WR-Parris Campbell (hamstring) is going to continue for at least a few more days. The Colts thought Campbell’s return was coming soon, but the testing of his hamstring on Sunday didn’t go as well as expected. “He was kind of getting close and then he had a little bit of, I don’t want to call it a setback, but felt a little something yesterday so we are re-evaluating that,” Frank Reich said after Monday’s practice. “Hopefully that wasn’t too much where you’re getting close and you push it a little bit to see if you’re ready. Maybe not quite ready. So we will have to wait a few more days to see how that settles down. Hopefully we can get him back soon.” The absence for Campbell, which has now lasted longer than 2 weeks, just strengthens Chester Rogers’ spot on this 53-man roster.
- “At this point, no,” was Frank Reich’s answer on Monday when asked if Andrew Luck will practice against the Browns. So it’s sounding like Luck will miss the final 12 practices of camp, and will participate in just 3 total sessions at Grand Park. Quarterback guru Tom House was back at Grand Park on Monday to work with No. 12. “He’s exhausting it,” Reich said of Luck’s latest rehab work. “He continues to be in walk throughs, really good, really tuned in. And then physically, just doing everything he can do to get back out on the field.” Reich shared why House is so valuable to Luck: “Tom is great. He’s the best in the world at what he does. So glad to have him here. Tom is just an expert on throwing mechanics, every aspect of it. He’s got 20-plus years of experience, where that’s all he’s doing, working with throwers. Tom not only knows a lot about throwing, but he has a brilliant mind. If you sit and talk to him about this stuff for 5 minutes, you are going to know that you are talking to somebody who is a little bit different when it comes to this stuff. I think that really connects with Andrew, because he knows not only Tom’s practical experience, but Tom knows every single scientific formula and number behind what he’s seeing.” Again, our attention now turns towards to next Monday for Luck’s possible/potential practice return, this calendar is shrinking fast. Next week is the final full week of practice for the Colts before the regular season begins.
- There haven’t been many blatant drops from Devin Funchess this camp, but I will repeat what I said over the weekend: the passer rating when Jacoby Brissett targets Devin Funchess is just nowhere near where it should be, or even near the very high number for a guy like T.Y. Hilton.
- Speaking of Hilton, he’s again been one of the top players at Colts Camp in 2019. Hilton actually calls this the best camp he’s had, saying that he’s caught 29 of his 30 targets, which is just an astronomical number. Frank Reich agrees with Hilton’s notion: “He looks so good right now. This guy is an elite, elite, elite route runner. He’s got elite football smarts. He just has these instincts to understand leverage and coverage the way few guys do. It’s hard to explain, but as a quarterback, you watch him run routes and you just know exactly where he’s going to be.” Why does Hilton think he’s been so much better? Health has cooperated and that’s allowed him to “get back to his old roots” of training. “Just a lot of hard work in the offseason, getting back healthy, training how I want to train and just having my ankle back where I need it,” the 29-year-old says.
- While Hilton acknowledges the uptick in competition coming during the joint practices, he’s not a fan of them. “Every time you see them, there’s fights breaking out,” Hilton said on Monday. The Colts did have 2-3 scuffles/fights last year with the Ravens. Frank Reich says he and Browns head coach Freddie Kitchens have had 3 or 4 conversations to make sure they are on the same page when it comes to tempo and staying away from any extracurricular activities. Reich and Kitchens do have history together, working on the same staff in Arizona.
- Frank Reich acknowledges the play of the defense this camp: “The defense has made a lot of plays and playing with a lot of energy right now. Really getting off the ball, committed. They’ve been good all camp but especially the last couple of days. Their tempo has been right where it’s need to be.” Reich is also eager to see his defense face a pretty skilled offense the rest of this week.
- Even though Reece Fountain has had a really strong last week of camp, I still don’t view him as a guy on this 53-man roster. If the Colts go to a 6th wide receiver, I still think Zach Pascal is the lead guy there. It was Pascal ‘starting’ on Monday with T.Y. Hilton out.
- So Adam Vinatieri (knee) has missed a week now, with an injury that Frank Reich says is “not anything that will be a problem.” But we will take this time to note undrafted kicker Cole Hedlund who connected on all 3 field goals (42, 44 and 25 yards) in last Thursday’s preseason opener. Hedlund kicked in college at Arkansas and North Texas, going 19-of-22 on field goals his senior season. Will Hedlund continue the Indy tradition of kicking behind Vinny in camp, and then finding an NFL home elsewhere?
- With ‘Colts vs. Colts’ practices at Grand Park over, we saw just 1 live tackling period the entire camp and that was mostly with reserves in the session. The Colts were in full pads for 7 of the 14 practices. There was a slight decrease in the physicality/tackling aspect of camp, compared to last year. This was something Frank Reich said was going to be the case before the Colts reported to Grand Park.
- We are 14 practices complete at Grand Park. With just 2 camp sessions left, here are the 4 starters who have participated in every single practice: Marlon Mack, Mark Glowinski, Quincy Wilson and Malik Hooker. For the 2017 draft picks in Mack, Wilson and Hooker, who have battled some injuries before, seeing such health from them this camp is important with critical years on the horizon for that trio. Quenton Nelson missed his first practice on Monday, after suffering a ‘dinged ankle’ near the end of Sunday’s practice. With Nelson out, it was Josh Andrews starting at left guard. It looks like Andrews is the top interior backup for the Colts in 2019.
- One thing that is popping into my head about the 5 or 6 wide receiver debate, is how much do the Colts want to diversify the skillsets with that entire group, along with keeping an eye on special teams help? You want to have the right balance of slot guys, outside guys and some guys that can play all over the formation. Of the bubble guys in the mix, it seems Reece Fountain is the lone one who hasn’t had return work this camp. Chester Rogers and Zach Pascal are the kick and punt returners from last season. And Marcus Johnson did it some as well. Even Krishawn Hogan has fielded a few punts in the past couple of days.
- Here were the Colts who did not practice on Monday: DE-Jabaal Sheard (sore knee, has missed 13 straight practices), WR-Parris Campbell (has missed 10 straight practices), QB-Andrew Luck (calf/ankle, has missed 10 straight practices), TE-Ross Travis (hamstring, has missed 10 straight practices), K-Adam Vinatieri (knee, has missed 4 straight practices), WR-Penny Hart (hamstring), RB-Jordan Wilkins (foot, has missed 4 straight practices), OG-Quenton Nelson (ankle), WR-T.Y. Hilton, OL-Le’Raven Clark, CB-Nate Hairston. Guys that returned to practice on Monday: TE-Eric Ebron, TE-Ross Travis, CB-Pierre Desir, CB-Rock Ya-Sin.
- The Colts have just 2 practices left in camp at Grand Park, with joint sessions against the Browns coming Wednesday-Thursday.
REMAINING COLTS CAMP SCHEDULE
Tuesday, August 13: Off day
Wednesday, August 14: Joint practices with Browns from 4:00-6:10 PM
Thursday, August 15: Joint practices with Browns from 4:00-6:00 PM
Friday, August 16: Break camp