INDIANAPOLIS — The Indianapolis Colts today held their second of three days of 2019 mandatory veteran minicamp practices at the Indiana Farm Bureau Football Center.
What were the top takeaways from Wednesday’s second day of minicamp practices?
» On the participation front, those who were back on Wednesday who did not take part in Tuesday’s practice included wide receiver T.Y. Hilton, cornerback Nate Hairston and defensive tackle Jihad Ward.
» Those not seen participating today who practiced on Tuesday included kicker Adam Vinatieri, wide receiver Daurice Fountain, running back Jordan Wilkins and linebacker Anthony Walker. Those who were not seen participating for a second straight day included wide receiver Penny Hart, wide receiver Deon Cain, quarterback Andrew Luck, safety Clayton Geathers, cornerback Chris Milton, cornerback Quincy Wilson, tight end Ross Travis, linebacker Darius Leonard, defensive end Carroll Phillips, tight end Jack Doyle and defensive tackle Denico Autry.
» Tight end Eric Ebron, who underwent a minor groin procedure this offseason and missed the on-field portion of Phase 2 of the offseason program, as as well as OTAs, made his return to the practice field on Tuesday, though he was limited to individual and positional drills. On Wednesday, Ebron was seen getting some action during team drills. Another step in the right direction.
» The Colts began team drills with a punt session, in which Chester Rogers, Parris Campbell and Nyheim Hines all got reps at returner. Later in practice there was another drill in which Rigoberto Sanchez and the Indy punt team was pinned back deep in their own territory; Rogers, Campbell and Hines were all involved as returners in that drill, as were Zach Pascal and Jaydon Mickens, who is at practice on a tryout basis.
» Before getting into the first round of 11-on-11s, the pass catchers and the defensive backs lined up for 1-on-1 coverage drills. Of those involved on the “main” part of the field — some of the backups and third stringers were doing their own 1-on-1 drill behind them — the defense “won” 11 of the 17 (65 percent) reps, with a “win” meaning the pass simply was wither completed or not completed. Here’s how the matchups went: Kenny Moore II def. Steve Ishamel; Pierre Desir def. Marcus Johnson; Mo Alie-Cox def. Malik Hooker; Jordan Veasy def. Marvel Tell III; Billy Brown def. Matthias Farley; Jalen Collins def. Chester Rogers; Shakial Taylor def. Ashton Dulin; George Odum def. Hale Hentges (flag thrown); Rock Ya-Sin def. Krishawn Hogan (interception); Tell III def. Malik Taylor (tryout player); Khari Willis def. Gabe Holmes; Desir def. Mickens; Moore II def. Ishmael; Alie-Cox def. Derrick Kindred; Johnson def. Collins; Veasy def. Tell III; Isaiah Johnson def. Brown.
» Of those reps, Collins, for a second straight day, was relentless after the catch; on Wednesday, Rogers seemed to haul in a throw when Collins came in and ripped the ball from his hands, forcing what would’ve been an incompletion.
» Ya-Sin’s interception going up against Hogan was a true thing of beauty. The two were locked in a physical battle from the snap, and Ya-Sin was able to quickly turn around and snag the throw out of the air. Here’s an interesting stat: in the now five practices the media has been able to watch in which Ya-Sin has participated this offseason, he has an interception in four of them. Good start for the rookie.
» Heading into OTAs, Alie-Cox could’ve just been an “offseason player to watch” by default, considering the fact every player potentially ahead of him on the depth chart — Jack Doyle, Ebron and Ross Travis — have all been out as they have dealt with their respective recovery timelines. But Alie-Cox has certainly has earned some hype with his play throughout the offseason, as well. For a guy who hadn’t played organized football since middle school prior to signing with the Colts two years ago, Alie-Cox has tremendous hands; he’s the type that if you just put it in a place where only he can get it, out of the reach of defenders draping him in coverage, he’s more than likely going to come down with the catch. This happened on a couple occasions on Wednesday, proving once again just how deep the Colts’ tight end position should be heading into training camp and the 2019 season.
» With Walker out today, the Colts had Matthew Adams playing in his place with the first-unit defense at MIKE linebacker. The rest of that unit, when in nickel: Jabaal Sheard and Justin Houston at defensive end; Margus Hunt and Tyquan Lewis at defensive tackle; Bobby Okereke at WILL linebacker; Pierre Desir and Rock Ya-Sin (outside) and Kenny Moore II (nickel) at cornerback; and George Odum and Malik Hooker at safety.
» A second-unit defensive look we saw on Wednesday: Kemoko Turay and Al-Quadin Muhammad at defensive end; Grover Stewart and Caraun Reid at defensive tackle; Ahmad Thomas (MIKE) and Zaire Franklin (WILL) at linebacker; Jalen Collins and Marvell Tell III (outside) and Nate Hairston (nickel) at cornerback; and Khari Willis and Matthias Farley at safety.
» The first-unit offense we saw Wednesday had no real surprises: Anthony Castonzo (left tackle), Quenton Nelson (left guard), Ryan Kelly (center), Mark Glowinski (right guard) and Braden Smith (right tackle) along the offensive line; Jacoby Brissett at quarterback; Marlon Mack at running back; Mo Alie-Cox at tight end; and T.Y. Hilton, Devin Funchess and Chester Rogers at wide receiver.
» Zach Pascal and Marcus Johnson also got some solid reps with the first-team at wide receiver, as did Gabe Holmes at tight end. Late in practice, Jake Eldrenkamp subbed in for Nelson at left guard for a few plays.
» Also later in practice, Willis and Tell III were seen getting reps at safety and cornerback with the first-unit defense.
» Two outstanding offensive plays to close out 11-on-11s: first, Brissett found the matchup he wanted with running back Nyheim Hines lined up deep in one-on-one coverage against the linebacker Okereke; Hines made Okereke miss early and broke open over the top, and Brissett found him with a well-placed ball over the shoulder down the right sideline for a sizable gain.
» A couple plays later, the offense ran a sweep play to the right with the speedy rookie Campbell; had this been in a live game setting, Campbell likely would’ve gotten 15, 20 or even more yards on the play. By the time most of the defenders even realized what was going on, Campbell was five yards past the line of scrimmage.
» Wednesday’s 7-on-7 drills led to some quality plays by the defense. Ya-Sin was all over Funchess, and the pass from Brissett bounced off the receiver’s hands and into the waiting hands of Hooker for the interception. A few plays later, Okereke jumped an Ebron route and nearly picked off the pass attempt.
» Perhaps the play of the day came during 7-on-7s, as Nate Hairston made a high leaping interception of quarterback Phillip Walker. I mean, Hairston got up there to make the play. His strong offseason continued later in 11-on-11s when he was sent in on a blitz and recorded a would-be sack on Walker.
» Walker bounced back to loft a beauty of a pass to Johnson, which was placed just out of reach of Tell III in coverage. Walker was getting the second-team reps on Wednesday, with Chad Kelly getting the third-team reps.