INDIANAPOLIS – As you’d expect, the execution was better from the Indianapolis Colts on Day 2 of training camp.
Stray showers stayed away from Grand Park with the Colts getting on the field for a little more than 90 minutes on Thursday morning.
What was learned from the Colts second practice of the week?
- The passing offense looked much better on Thursday. It started from the onset, with Carson Wentz taking advantage of a blitz period by going 4-of-4 to start practice. Wentz finished the day 8-of-10, and that was with testing the field vertically a good amount, too. The 8-of-10 day is strong by itself, but knowing that Wentz was mostly completing passes by throwing it down the field adds to the impressive morning of work. Wentz completed passes to T.Y. Hilton 2x, Michael Pittman, Zach Pascal 2x, Mo Alie-Cox, Marlon Mack and Jordan Wilkins. For camp, Wentz has completed (unofficially) 14-of-23 passes in 11-on-11 work.
- While Wentz had a very nice day, Jacob Eason didn’t have an incompletion in 11-on-11 work. Eason bounced back to go 8-of-8 in team sessions, completing passes to Marlon Mack, Noah Togiai, Mike Strachan 2x, Ashton Dulin, Michael Pittman and Jack Doyle 2x. Eason actually was given a chance to end practice with the starters. He went 3-of-3 in that session. This was a nice response by Eason after he struggled a bit on Wednesday.
- The highlight so far at camp came early in Thursday’s practice. Even with Carson Wentz under a bit of duress in the pocket, and not having his feet set, he was able to fire one down the field into the hands of a diving Zach Pascal. Kenny Moore trailed in coverage and appeared to have some miscommunication with Julian Blackmon who had Pascal responsibilities. The throw was a glimpse into the raw arm strength that Wentz brings to the position. Even with a pocket that wasn’t perfectly clean, the 6-5, 240-pound QB was still able to get the ball down the field for a massive play.
- Center Ryan Kelly left practice about halfway through after injuring his left elbow. Kelly received attention from the medical and rehab staff, with Ed Dodds (the right hand man of Chris Ballard), Eric Fisher and Quenton Nelson stopping by for an update. Danny Pinter filled in for Kelly. The first session that Kelly exited, the defensive line made some plays in the backfield, including a fumble recovery by Kwity Paye when the offense was trying some trickeration.
- On Wednesday, we talked about the tremendous opportunities greeting the young corners to start camp. Matt Eberflus talked after Thursday’s practice complimenting the first couple of days for Rock Ya-Sin. “Some of the obvious things are just where his hands are. Keeping his hands down low, reading the football and then his footwork through the catch point…He’s had a couple of good days here. We are excited where he is.” Personally, Marvell Tell has caught my eye in making some plays.
- Kwity Paye and Tyquan Lewis have been the starting defensive ends with Al-Quadin Muhammad still on the COVID-19 list. Matt Eberflus calls it an ‘open competition’ still at DE. We haven’t seen a whole ton of edge pressure yet. Of course, a better evaluation of this will come when the full pads are strapped on (Eberflus said Monday would be the first day for that).
- For a second straight day, it was Will Holden occupying the starting left tackle spot for the entire practice. Sam Tevi continues to run with the second stringers.
- Two days into camp and we’ve yet to see field goals attempted by Rodrigo Blankenship and Eddy Pineiro. Bubba Ventrone said that Rodrigo Blankenship enters the competition with a slight advantage, as the incumbent. “One of the traits you look for in any type of player, we want to see the same guy every day,” Ventrone says. “We felt that last year Rod’s consistency, his ball flight, not a lot of variation on his kicks (made the difference)…It’s hard to deal with a guy who is here one day (points down) and here the next day (points up)…Eddy is a talented guy. He’s had some injuries that he’s dealt with but he’s healthy now and it’ll be a good competition.” Ventrone added that Hot Rod had a strong commitment to the weight room this offseason and the staff has seen those results with Blankenship a ‘more explosive’ kicker.
- With Frank Reich still away from the team, it’s Ventrone in charge of practice, breaking down the team after practice, etc. Reich is still taking part in meetings virtually. “The guys understand because Frank has done a good job of laying the foundation of how we are expected to practice, how to practice as a professional, staying off the ground, not making penalties. (Reich) is a great mentor to me,” Ventrone said on Thursday. “I’m honored to fill in.” When Reich was away from the team due to a death in the family a few years back, it was Ventrone who ran a Friday practice.
- Ventrone says the return jobs are not set in stone, but I would be surprised if Nyheim Hines (punt) and Isaiah Rodgers (kick) don’t occupy those jobs. With Hines out of practice right now, DeMichael Harris, J.J. Nelson and Tyler Vaughns took chances at punt return.
- Long-time running backs coach Tom Rathman is no longer here, but the stressing of protecting the ball remains. New running backs coach Scottie Montgomery was often yelling ‘ODB’ at his group on Thursday. That stands for ‘our damn ball.’
- With Darius Leonard out right now, E.J. Speed is getting a whole lot of time at the WILL position. When Leonard does return, the Colts want to see Speed over at SAM, which is an open job. Zaire Franklin is the favorite for that position, now that Anthony Walker is gone (Bobby Okereke is the MIKE).
- The Colts made an interesting signing on Thursday. They brought in cornerback Holton Hill. Often thought to be a talented corner, Hill was suspended during his days at Texas for violating team rules. He was suspended by the NFL in 2019 for violating the league’s policy on substance abuse. In his NFL career, Hill has 69 career tackles in 28 games played, with 6 starts (all for the Vikings).
- Couple of names that stood out to me on Thursday for various reasons: CB-Marvell Tell, WR-Zach Pascal, WR-T.Y. Hilton, DE-Isaac Rochell.
- The Colts will have two more practices this week before an off day on Sunday. See the schedule below.
Injury Report: The following players did not appear to be participating at Thursday’s practice: RB-Nyheim Hines (hip, expected to miss a couple of days), S-Shawn Davis (hamstring), S-George Odum (back), LB-Darius Leonard (ankle), OT-Julie’n Davenport. Leonard was not wearing a boot while watching Thursday’s practice. Just a reminder that OT-Eric Fisher (physically unable to perform list) and DE-Dayo Odeyingbo (non-football injury list) remain sidelined. On the COVID-19 list: DE-Al-Quadin Muhammad, CB-Xavier Rhodes, CB-T.J. Carrie. Frank Reich remains absent due to his positive COVID-19 test last week.
Weekly Camp Schedule
-Friday: 10:00-11:45 Practice
-Saturday: 1:00-2:30 Practice
-Sunday: Off day
-Monday: 10:00-11:30 Practice
-Tuesday: 10:00-11:45 Practice
-Wednesday: 10:00-11:45 Practice
-Thursday: Off day