INDIANAPOLIS – The hottest day of Colts camp occurred on Wednesday, with the team back in full pads.
Wednesday saw the most downfield passing from the starting offense so far in camp as temperatures north of 90 degrees could very well be what this team faces in Week 1 in Jacksonville (on September 13th).
What were some of my takeaways from Wednesday practice, the 7th in full pads?
-I had Philip Rivers going 14-of-19 on Wednesday, with one interception by Justin Houston to end practice. Late on Wednesday, Rivers had a couple of balls deflected by defensive linemen (one that the quarterback caught for a completion). Wednesday was the most downfield work we’ve seen from Rivers in camp, and he was pretty accurate.
-One thing I’ve noticed about Rivers is the ball hasn’t touched the ground too many times in practice. Yes, he’s had three interceptions in well over 100 throws during the full-padded sessions. But he doesn’t throw the ball away too much. Those ‘give up’ moments usually lead to Rivers finding his outlet, typically a running back. It might seem like a simple play, but doing that time and time again can keep drives going, versus an incompletion into the stands.
-New tight end Trey Burton was really good on Wednesday. He had one drop late in practice, but that came after at least a trio of chunk plays down the field, including a spectacular one-handed grab. Frank Reich and Nick Sirianni have not held back in stating their hopes for Burton to have a key role in this offense. At 6-2 and 238 pounds, Burton might be the smallest tight end in the NFL. If he can stay healthy, Burton is going to have a noted role in Reich’s offense, especially with Philip Rivers’ love in finding tight ends.
-I stated on Monday that it’s been a bit difficult to evaluate the cornerback group this camp. Well, Rock Ya-Sin has been involved in some key pass breakups, including another early in 11-on-11 work on Wednesday. The Colts really need Ya-Sin to ascend to that No. 1 outside cornerback spot and be consistent. He’s had a nice camp.
-Rookie wideout Michael Pittman had a drop late in practice, but also made a couple of strong catches in traffic. Even though Pittman has had an up and down camp, he looks to be a natural catcher of the football, who should become reliable.
-Wednesday was probably the most mixing and matching the Colts have done with their starting units. On both sides of the ball, some guys down the roster got a chance with the starters. Reece Fountain was one of those guys and made a nice catch over the middle from Philip Rivers. With Marcus Johnson having yet to practice this camp, it appears to be opening the door for someone (or two) to claim a final wide receiver spot.
-Defensive tackle Rob Windsor might be the Day 3 pick who has impressed me the most, and that’s tough to do for an interior defensive lineman. Windsor has a really quick first step and his motor is obvious. With Sheldon Day still sidelined, Windsor and Tyquan Lewis have been a nice duo on the second team.
-An interesting note from 1-on-1 drills Wednesday: linebacker E.J. Speed chatting with Robert Mathis and then coming off the edge as a hand in the dirt defensive end. Is this a way the Colts might be trying to get Speed, who is an exceptional athlete, on the field more?
-Will second-year wideout Parris Campbell catch a break with the injuries? Campbell was involved in a minor car accident on Wednesday and is now in concussion protocol, per the Colts. This is a guy who really needs to string days/weeks of practice time together, after his injury-filled regular season.
-We are starting to see a few more sub package reps for Bobby Okereke. It was always thought Okereke is a better suited MIKE linebacker on passing downs, given his athletic traits, than Anthony Walker. But Walker is still taking the vast majority of first team reps.
-Rookie cornerback Isaiah Rodgers retuned to practice on Wednesday was immediately thrown into the mix for that backup slot cornerback position, with Kenny Moore (groin) still out. Wednesday was only the second full-padded practice for Rodgers, who is likely competing with T.J. Carrie for that key slot corner spot behind Moore.
-Backup offensive tackle Chaz Green saw his first practice action of the full-padded sessions, after an unspecified injury had kept him out. Green, who has 6 career starts, is a name offensive line coach Chris Strausser has mentioned as a possible swing tackle option.
-On Wednesday, the Colts signed TE-Dominique Dafney (Indiana State) and waived RB-Bruce Anderson III. The tight end position has probably been the most banged up group of any for the Colts this camp. With waiving Anderson, the Colts have just 4 running backs on their 80-man roster: Marlon Mack, Jonathan Taylor, Nyheim Hines and Jordan Wilkins. Will those 4 make the 53-man roster?
-Couple of names that stood out to me on Wednesday for various reasons: DT-Rob Windsor, CB-Tremon Smith, CB-Andre Chachere, OL-Danny Pinter, DT-Grover Stewart.
-The Colts will have one more practice at Lucas Oil Stadium this Saturday.
Injury Report: Kemoko Turay remains on the physically unable to perform list. Julian Blackmon is on the non-football injury list. Other guys who did not appear to be practicing on Wednesday included: CB-Kenny Moore (groin), WR-Parris Campbell (concussion protocol), DE-Ben Banogu (ankle) WR-Marcus Johnson, DL-Sheldon Day (knee), S-George Odum, FB-Roosevelt Nix, DT-Taylor Stallworth, TE-Xavier Grimble. Banogu left practice on Monday after suffering a left foot/ankle injury. Frank Reich said he didn’t think the injury was too serious after talking with Bangou following practice. Reich did not have a definite update on when Turay would make his practice debut in 2020, other than to say he’s making good progress. Turay had a boot on injured ankle while watching Monday’s practice. Reich said Day is ‘going to take a little time to heal’ as the Indy native has not participated in any of the full-padded practices so far. Moore is starting to do some on-field, change of direction, rehab work. He was originally supposed to miss ‘at least a week’ after getting hurt on August 17th.
Weekly Camp Schedule
-Thursday: 10:00-11:50 AM Practice
-Friday: 10:00-11:35 AM Practice
-Saturday: 1:00-3:35 PM Lucas Oil Practice