INDIANAPOLIS — Situational football was the name of the game Wednesday, when the Indianapolis Colts held their fourth of 10 OTA practices at the Indiana Farm Bureau Football Center.
The Colts on Wednesday were simulating all sorts of situations, including red zone, goal line and two-point conversion attempts, giving Frank Reich’s team a chance to really start diving into the playbook on both sides of the ball.
“Red zone day, right?” Reich told reporters after the session. “That’s one of the big things about OTAs that we love is just to have situational football. (You) get a lot of reps. So we got a lot of red zone reps today so I thought that was a good start for us.”
So what were the top takeaways from the fourth day of OTA practices?
» Quarterback Andrew Luck was once again a non-participant in Wednesday’s practice, as he continues to deal with a calf strain. Reich said Luck is expected to be held out of on-field activities for a second straight week as a precaution, and will be re-evaluated early next week.
» The Colts on Wednesday did see three players return to the practice field after they were unable to participate during last week’s first OTA practice that was open to the media. Those back today were cornerback Chris Milton, defensive tackle Jihad Ward and defensive end Jegs Jegede.
» Three players that participated last week were not seen taking part in Wednesday’s practice: safety Matthias Farley and linebackers Matthew Adams and Skai Moore. Those who continued to be held out for a second week included Luck, wide receiver Penny Hart, wide receiver Deon Cain, safety Clayton Geathers, linebacker Darius Leonard, tight ends Ross Travis, Jack Doyle and Eric Ebron and defensive end Jabaal Sheard.
» Once individual and position drills were over, the Colts’ offense ran three perhaps non-traditional type plays to begin a quick situational period without facing the defense, including a variation of a flea flicker and two jet sweeps to rookie wide receiver Parris Campbell. Both plays were later used against the defense, with quarterback Jacoby Brissett getting a moderate gain on a flea flicker-type play, while a jet sweep to Campbell was sniffed out by defensive end Al-Quadin Muhammad.
» The Colts mostly showed a nickel look on defense throughout the afternoon. The first group out there included Muhammad, Denico Autry, Margus Hunt and Justin Houston along the defensive line, Anthony Walker and Zaire Franklin at linebacker, Pierre Desir, Quincy Wilson and Kenny Moore II (slot) at cornerback and Malik Hooker and George Odum at safety. Nate Hairston (cornerback) and E.J. Speed (linebacker) also got some significant reps with that unit.
» Speaking of that side of the ball, Reich said after Wednesday’s practice that the defense “won the day.” That was evident not only by the speed and quickness seen throughout the session, but by big plays made throughout the day as Milton, Hairston and rookie cornerback Rock Ya-Sin each logged interceptions at various junctures. Desir and Wilson, meanwhile, each had impressive efforts knocking down passes in one-on-one coverage, both on wide receiver Devin Funchess.
» Brissett sandwiched two of those aforementioned interceptions with a beautiful dime to running back Nyheim Hines, who hauled in a perfectly-placed over-the-shoulder pass down the left sideline. Hines and fellow running backs Jordan Wilkins and Spencer Ware were getting tons of work in the passing game, either running routes out of the backfield or lining up out wide.
» The Colts expanded the list of those fielding punts on Wednesday. Last week, Chester Rogers and Campbell were the only ones back there, but on Wednesday, it was Rogers, Campbell, Hines and Zach Pascal.
» Ben Banogu spent a second straight week working primarily at defensive end with the second unit. While the second-round pick was selected as a linebacker out of TCU, we’re yet to really see how Banogu will be utilized out in space. Stay tuned for more on that.
» Milton had a very strong day at cornerback for the Indy defense. He had that aforementioned interception on a ball thrown by Brissett that was intended for Pascal, and later he broke up a Chad Kelly pass attempt at the goal line. Milton in 2018 was a key member of the Colts’ punt coverage unit, and now he’s trying to make noise defensively to continue opening eyes with the hopes of earning a roster spot once again.