INDIANAPOLIS — “In the jungle, the mighty jungle. The lion sleeps tonight.”
Ironically, that was the song of choice for tight end Eric Ebron — a former member of the Detroit Lions — as he headed out onto the field for Wednesday’s second day of mandatory minicamp practice at the Indiana Farm Bureau Football Center in Indianapolis.
Eventually, other teammates started joining in, and thus the mood was set for another productive day on a typically unpredictable afternoon weather-wise in central Indiana. The practice started off with hot, muggy conditions, got better with some cloud cover, and then ended with a torrential downpour.
Now with just one day of minicamp left until a few weeks off and then the start of training camp — did you see the Colts released their training camp schedule, by the way? — let’s take a look at the key takeaways from Wednesday’s practice:
— Participation-wise, those I didn’t see during the open media portion included wide receiver T.Y. Hilton, wide receiver James Wright, safety Ronald Martin, cornerback D.J. White, running back Marlon Mack, safety Clayton Geathers, running back Nyheim Hines, linebacker Darius Leonard, guard Jeremy Vujnovich, center Deyshawn Bond, defensive end Chris McCain, wide receiver Chester Rogers, wide receiver Krishawn Hogan, tight end Erik Swoope and defensive tackle/defensive end Tyquan Lewis.
— Of those not seen participating on Wednesday, Hilton, Wright and Hines were out for a first time that I know of. As previously mentioned, the team is not obligated to provide an injury report during the offseason workout program, so unless head coach Frank Reich or others address these players specifically, it’s unknown exactly why they’re not participating. We did see Hines, who was holding the back of his left leg, being tended to by trainers on Tuesday.
— On Hilton, the wide receiver did talk with reporters before Wednesday’s practice and didn’t mention any sort of injury. It could’ve very well been a rest/maintain/veteran’s day off type of situation for the four-time Pro Bowler, but we’ll keep an eye out for any other types of explanations if they arise.
— One other injury note from Wednesday: second-year linebacker Anthony Walker appeared to suffer an injury during an 11-on-11 drill, and was being tended to on the field by trainers for several minutes before being carted off the field and into a medical tent. Several teammates, as well as head coach Frank Reich, went over to show their support for Walker before he was taken off the field. No update has been announced on what injury Walker suffered, but if it turns out to be serious, that’d be a tough break for a player who seemed to be getting a majority of the “first-team” reps at the MIKE linebacker spot to the point of the offseason. We saw veteran Najee Goode fill in for Walker from that point on Wednesday.
— The team opened practice with a punt return drill, and with Hines and Rogers not participating, we saw a couple new faces back returning in Deon Cain and Ryan Grant, with holdover Josh Ferguson continuing to field punts, as well. On a lighter note, defensive end Jabaal Sheard was seen helping test out the JUGS machine before things got started, fielding a couple punts, himself. He didn’t drop any, so that’s good — but I’d be willing to bet Sheard won’t be the team’s hidden special teams weapon this season.
— The offense then went into some throwing drills, where quarterback Andrew Luck was, for the first time since October, seen not only throwing routes against air to some of his receivers, running backs and tight ends — but he also mixed in what appeared to be a regulation NFL football (or “The Duke”) into some of his throws. Luck had a few throws on Tuesday during the early portion of practice, but it was usually just to a coach or staffer nearby, and he was using what was described as a “lighter” football (essentially, it was similar to a high school football). Another positive step in the right direction for Luck, who spent the rest of practice working on his own inside the Colts' indoor training facility.
— When the Colts broke into 11-on-11s, we again saw Austin Howard lined up as the “first-team” right tackle. Howard and Denzelle Good had flip-flopped recently, but Howard has been the No. 1 right tackle now for these first two days of minicamp.
— Other offensive personnel working with the No. 1s on the first few plays: Jacoby Brissett, of course, at quarterback; Robert Turbin at running back, Jack Doyle and Ebron at tight end and Grant and Cain at wide receiver.
— Rookie Skai Moore was seen working in with the “first-team” defense at linebacker, as was Tyrell Adams, Walker (before he was injured) and Goode. Others got in there at the three linebacker spots, as well, but those were players seen near the beginning of 11-on-11 drills.
— We also saw some mixing up along the defensive line. While Sheard and Tarell Basham remain as the top defensive ends, Margus Hunt — who has been more of a defensive tackle in this new 4-3 scheme — was also seen taking some snaps at defensive end on Wednesday.
— For a second straight day, we saw a “second-team” offensive line that consisted of Tyreek Burwell at left tackle, Jack Mewhort at left guard, Joe Haeg at center, Braden Smith at right guard and Good at right tackle. Later, I noticed an offensive line that had Le’Raven Clark at left tackle, Mark Glowinski at left guard, Haeg at center, Smith at right guard and Good at right tackle.
— For a second straight day, tight end Darrell Daniels stood out with a nice play, this time with a diving catch to his right on a short route from quarterback Brad Kaaya. Daniels, who went undrafted out of Washington last year, recorded just three receptions for 26 yards in his rookie season in 2017, but is hoping to keep impressing the coaches within a crowded tight ends room that already includes the likes of Doyle, Ebron, Ross Travis, Mo Alie-Cox and, whenever he can get healthy, Swoope.
— While Turbin has been counted on to be more of a third-down grinder for the Colts’ offense the past two years, don’t overlook his abilities both as more of a versatile runner, as well as a pass catcher. On Wednesday, the Colts had a formation with four wide receivers spread out wide and Turbin lined up in the backfield, and sent the veteran running back on a screen route to the left. Turbin took the pass from Brissett in stride and got a huge gain on the play.
— A couple plays after that, Quincy Wilson had a nice pass breakup in one-on-one coverage to the right side of the field against Grant. Wilson, who has been on and off the field throughout the offseason workout program, is hoping to continue stacking good days on top of each other.
— An unheralded name to watch on defense would definitely be safety George Odum. An undrafted rookie free agent this year out of Central Arkansas — where he played both outside linebacker and defensive back — Odum just continues to make plays each and every day in the secondary. In OTAs, he had a fumble recovery in the red zone, and then had an interception in the end zone. On Wednesday, he had another interception, this time on a tipped pass from Brissett. With the likes of Geathers and Hooker still not able to practice, Odum has certainly taken advantage of the extra reps to this point.
— When the team went into a kickoff drill after the first round of 11-on-11s, we saw Ferguson, Cain and Christine Michael rotate in at returner. Running backs coach Tom Rathman has doubled as a returner coach to this point of the offseason, and is helping get the return unit adjusted to — and learn how to take advantage of — the new NFL kickoff rules.
— Rookie wide receiver Reece Fountain had a nice catch on a pass play from Phillip Walker along the left sideline during 7-on-7 drills. The play seemed to be the epitome of what head coach Frank Reich has been emphasizing about this new offense: quickly getting the ball out of the quarterback’s hands, and having the QB and the pass catchers be on point with their timing.
— Wednesday's media availability included offensive coordinator Nick Sirianni and defensive coordinator Matt Eberflus, but not Reich, so expect to hear from him on Thursday. As of now, Reich is scheduled to talk after practice — the final session of the offseason workout program for the Colts.