Matt Ryan gets ready to throw a ball in practice.
WESTFIELD, IN - AUGUST 07: Indianapolis Colts quarterback Matt Ryan (2) runs through a drill during the Indianapolis Colts Training Camp practice on August 7, 2022 at Grand Park Sports Campus in Westfield, IN. (Photo by Zach Bolinger/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

Day 9 Colts Training Camp Notebook: How Much Will Matt Ryan Play In Preseason Opener?

INDIANAPOLISAfter an off day on Tuesday, the Colts had their third straight session in full pads.

Drops continued to be a big storyline, as the defense added to the playmaking that side of the ball has shown this week.

Here is what was learned at Wednesday’s ninth practice of camp:

  • Matt Ryan finished Wednesday afternoon 7-of-12 with completions to the following guys: Kylen Granson (2), Mo Alie-Cox (1), Parris Campbell (1), Alec Pierce (1), Michael Pittman (1), Jonathan Taylor (1). There were some chances for big plays in the passing game on Wednesday, but that part of the offense again sputtered a bit through the air. In a backed-up situation, the starting offense had a chance for a big play with Michael Pittman getting behind the secondary. But Matt Ryan underthrew Pittman, which allowed for rookie Nick Cross to catch up and knock the ball away. Through 9 practices, Ryan is 74-of-108 in the full teamwork. Ryan’s completed his passes to the following guys: Michael Pittman (21), Kylen Granson (11), Mo Alie-Cox (9), Jonathan Taylor (9), Nyheim Hines (7), Parris Campbell (6), Drew Ogletree (3), Alec Pierce (3), Ashton Dulin (3), Dezmon Patmon (1), Keke Coutee (1).
  • Let’s start with the drops, as I counted a half dozen on Wednesday: 2 for Mo Alie-Cox, 2 for Ethan Fernea, 1 for Nyheim Hines, 1 for Michael Jacobson. Wednesday marked the third straight practice that the Colts have suffered at least a handful of drops. “I have noticed it and I’m not happy about it,” Reich said. “It’s not one person, not one group. It’s just a little bit too many. We just keep pushing, keep pushing. What do you do? Do you yell, ‘catch the ball?’ I know we are preaching to the choir here. It’s important to get in extra catches, concentration and focus in training camp. I think the trend is it tends to be more of the younger guys, but you just have to keep working at it. One or two at this stage isn’t good and you don’t like any of it. It’s all being evaluated and then who you can ultimately trust.” While some of these are labeled drops, the ball placement and timing hasn’t been as sharp since the Colt got into full pads.
  • Per Frank Reich, the Colts are planning to play Matt Ryan around a quarter, maybe a tad less depending on play count, in Saturday’s preseason opener in Buffalo. As we mentioned earlier in the week, Ryan is used to playing a decent amount in the preseason. While the Colts are expected to play a good amount of starters in the preseason, I would not expect Jonathan Taylor to be one of them.
  • Frank Reich and Chris Ballard are very excited about how the defense has played in full pads this camp. On Wednesday, the defense combined on a couple of interceptions with R.J. McIntosh tipping a ball that Bobby Okereke came down with (from Matt Ryan) and then Isaiah Rodgers in coverage on a pass that E.J. Speed hauled in (from Nick Foles).
  • Here was the Frank Reich update on Wednesday about Shaquille Leonard playing Week 1, and if the Colts are operating that they will be without Leonard: “Yeah, we are talking about every scenario,” Reich said. “We are hopeful and optimistic that he’s ready, but you are preparing as if he’ll not be ready. You prepare for worst case scenario. Shaq is preparing like he’s playing Week 1. He’s doing a lot of extra work and he’s getting his mind right, ready to play. He’s got his mind ready to play. The players got to think he’s playing as soon as he can and then we all get together and trust the process…It’s going to depend on what it looks like those last couple of weeks before he gets on the field, how much activity is he doing out here? What exactly is it? How much contact is there? We’re conditioning. So kind of gauge it by that. If he’s got that, Shaq is so instinctive, so smart and he’s really putting in the time…and he’s a unique player that we want to get on the field.”
  • It looked like a scene from Herb Brooks and Miracle with the end to Wednesday’s practice. Frank Reich with the whistle in his mouth and his Colts team running sideline-to-sideline. It was 6 different running reps sideline-to-sideline for extra conditioning, per Reich. Although, this way to end practice is something we haven’t seen before in the Reich era.
  • For many reasons, it was a great sign to see Parris Campbell (hamstring) back participating on Wednesday after sitting out the back half of Monday’s practice. Campbell didn’t participate in the 1-on-1s during Wednesday, but was looking like his normal self in the full-team periods.
  • We’ve talked extensively about the slow starts to seasons for the Colts. It should be noted, this is not just a ‘new QB each year’ driven thing. Let’s look at the points allowed in September by the Colts, compared to the other months of the year. In the Chris Ballard era, the Colts points allowed is this: 22nd in September, 16th in October, 13th in November, 7th in December. What about the overall record in each month since Ballard got here: September: 29th in record, October: 12th, November: 9th, December: 17th. Again, should these trends just be ignored? Will the change in playing starters a bit more lead to the Colts playing better early in the season?
  • How about a sleeper on the defensive side of the ball? R.J. McIntosh has flashed on numerous occasions this camp. McIntosh, a former 5th round pick, has played in 18 career games, and is competing for some backup defensive tackle reps. This is a position battle that Chris Ballard has a keen eye on right now. McIntosh might be playing his way onto the 53-man roster.
  • What is Frank Reich looking for in the kicking battle between Rodrigo Blankenship and Jake Verity? “Really looking for consistency, the consistency of making the ones we need to make. You can’t get totally infatuated with the guy who can make the 70-yarder. We need consistency throughout and then for whichever of those guys is most accurate outside of 50, that’s a big of deal, as well, because you don’t have as many of those in a year because a lot of times we are going for it on 4th down. But when you get a 4th-and-10, we are kicking a field goal. So we are really looking for those guys to show consistency in the mid-ranges and then be able to be a weapon over 50 yards. Both guys have a strong enough guys to do that. It’s been a good battle.”
  • Here is how the starting offense looked on Wednesday: QB-Matt Ryan, RB-Jonathan Taylor, RB-Nyheim Hines, WR-Michael Pittman, WR-Parris Campbell, TE-Mo Alie-Cox, LT-Matt Pryor, LG-Quenton Nelson, C-Ryan Kelly, RG-Danny Pinter, RT-Braden Smith.
  • Here is how the starting defense looked on Wednesday: DE-Yannick Ngakoue, DT-Grover Stewart, DT-DeForest Buckner, DE-Kwity Paye, LB-Zaire Franklin, LB-Bobby Okereke, CB-Kenny Moore, CB-Stephon Gilmore, S-Julian Blackmon, S-Nick Cross.
  • Guys that stood out at Wednesday’s practice for a variety of reasons: LB-Bobby Okereke, WR-Ashton Dulin, WR-Isaiah Ford, RB-Ty’Son Williams

Injury Report: The following players remain on the PUP or non-football injury list: LB-Shaquille Leonard (knee), WR-Mike Strachan (knee). The following players also did not practice on Wednesday: DT-Chris Williams (left foot), OT-Dennis Kelly (knee), LB-Forrest Rhyne (undisclosed), WR-DeMichael Harris (undisclosed), S-Armani Watts (undisclosed). Undrafted corner Dallis Flowers (right ankle) left practice at one point, but did not return.

Weekly Camp Schedule

-Thursday: 12:00 – 1:45 Practice

-Friday: Off day

-Saturday: Preseason opener at Buffalo, 4:00 kick

-Sunday Off day

-Monday: Off day

-Tuesday: 12:20 – 1:20 Practice

-Wednesday: 12:20 – 1:55 Joint practice with Lions

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