INDIANAPOLIS — Phase 3: check.
The Indianapolis Colts on Thursday held their ninth and final day of OTA practices at the Indiana Farm Bureau Football Center, wrapping up the third phase of the offseason workout program and leaving just next week’s mandatory minicamp to go before training camp — and, really, the 2018 season — gets under way.
But before we get there, here were the key takeaways from Thursday’s practice — the third and final OTA practice available to be viewed in its entirety by the media:
— On the participation front, the Colts had several players on Thursday that did not participate in the portion of practice open to the media. Those I didn’t see during the open portion today included kicker Adam Vinatieri, quarterback Andrew Luck, cornerback D.J. White, running back Marlon Mack, safety Clayton Geathers, safety Malik Hooker, cornerback Quincy Wilson, linebacker Darius Leonard, guard Jeremy Vujnovich, center Deyshawn Bond, tackle Anthony Castonzo, defensive end Chris McCain, wide receiver Krishawn Hogan, tight end Erik Swoope and defensive tackle/defensive end Tyquan Lewis.
— It’s the first time I’ve noticed a missed day of practice the last three weeks for Vinatieri, White, McCain and Lewis. Head coach Frank Reich did not have any updates about most of these players, but did say McCain is away from the team for the time being as he deals with a legal issue.
— Those who weren’t seen participating all three weeks of OTAs were Mack, Geathers, Hooker, Leonard, Vujnovich, Bond and Swoope. Look for an update on these guys next week, should Reich address it.
— Castonzo missed practice two weeks ago and then was a limited participant last week. We’ll see if there is any indication of any sort of injury issue next week.
— We did see a shift in the No. 1 offensive line. Denzelle Good, who had been filling in for Castonzo at left tackle in previous weeks, was working with the first unit at right tackle. Joe Haeg, meanwhile, was playing left tacking with the ones on Thursday. That left veteran Austin Howard, who was working with the first unit at right tackle the first two weeks of OTAs, with the No. 2 unit on Thursday.
— Defensively, one theme definitely continued from previous weeks: a lot of bodies were seen going in and out of the lineup. It can be difficult to keep up with at times, but for the most part, the base defense had the same players in what could be considered a “first-team” unit, but, for example, we saw a lot more of Tyrell Adams and Skai Moore at linebacker (with Moore at the MIKE), as well as Jeremiah George. Najee Goode (WILL) and Anthony Walker (MIKE) were still part of the main rotation, however, though there was some shifting between those guys at the WILL-MIKE-SAM spots at times.
— Speaking of Moore, the undrafted rookie made a tremendous play in coverage on Thursday. He jumped a route and picked off a throw from quarterback Phillip Walker, and returned it 40 or so yards for a touchdown. Moore certainly showed he could do the same in college — his 14 interceptions tied a South Carolina career record — and if he can continue to make plays like that early on for the Colts, then don’t be surprised if he’s counted on as a major contributor by Week 1.
— We also saw good coverage from Pierre Desir, who kept up with the speedy T.Y. Hilton to break up a pass on a corner route near the end zone. Safety Matthias Farley was also right there to provide help over the top.
— Another good play from the secondary: an interception in the end zone by undrafted rookie safety George Odum. Odum — who recovered a fumble last week in the red zone — did a good job covering the crossing pattern by wide receiver Kasen Williams, and picked off the possibly forced throw by quarterback Brad Kaaya.
— With Jabaal Sheard and Tarell Basham still the top defensive ends, Anthony Johnson and John Simon were seen working as a second group at the position. At defensive tackle, Al Woods and Denico Autry were again the primary players, but guys like Hassan Ridgeway, Grover Stewart and Caraun Reid (at the three technique) were getting plenty of reps, as well.
— When the team shifted to more of a 7-on-7 look, the period belonged to Jacoby Brissett and Deon Cain. Brissett made a nice play in a red zone drill to look off to his left and then quickly back to the middle, where he threw a strike to tight end Jack Doyle in the back of the end zone for a touchdown. A few plays later, the rookie Cain made a terrific catch on a fastball from Brissett — in a similar spot to Doyle’s touchdown — for a score. In 7-on-7 work, Cain had another impressive touchdown grab, this time from Kaaya.
— Mixed into that 7-on-7 action was a nice play in coverage from safety T.J. Green, who batted down a pass intended for tight end Eric Ebron in the middle of the end zone.
— The Colts appeared to primarily be using four punt returners during special team drills: Hilton, Nyheim Hines, Josh Ferguson and Chester Rogers.