WESTFIELD, Ind. — Today was Day 1 of the Indianapolis Colts' 2019 training camp practices at Grand Park Sports Campus in Westfield, Ind.
Here were some top takeaways from the day's session:
— Health-wise, every player on the 90-man roster was accounted for at Thursday's first practice of camp, with the only exception being running back Spencer Ware, who is on the Physically Unable to Perform (PUP) list with a muscle injury.
— Quarterback Andrew Luck, meanwhile, participated in stretching and early positional drills, as well as routes against air with the wide receivers before watching the rest of practice from the sideline. Luck (calf) is one of several players general manager Chris Ballard said would likely be limited the first week or so of camp. Head coach Frank Reich said after Thursday's practice that he expects Luck's workload to increase with each day, with the next step being "a few days" of 7-on-7 work.
— With Luck out, Jacoby Brissett led the first-team offense. The clear highlight of the day for the unit was a 60-yard bomb from Brissett to T.Y. Hilton, who ran a post route and flew past the secondary on for a would-be touchdown.
— As expected, the Colts used a first-string offensive line that consisted of Anthony Castonzo (left tackle), Quenton Nelson (left guard), Ryan Kelly (center), Mark Glowinski (right guard) and Braden Smith (right tackle), the returning five from last season. A second-team look consisted of Antonio Garcia (left tackle), Jake Eldrenkamp (left guard), Josh Andrews (center), Joe Haeg (right guard) and Le'Raven Clark (right tackle). A third-team look consisted of J'Marcus Webb (left tackle), Daniel Munyer (left guard), Evan Boehm (center), William Poehls (right guard) and Jackson Barton (right tackle).
— Others working in with the first-team offense early on were wide receivers Hilton, Devin Funchess, Chester Rogers, Zach Pascal and Marcus Johnson, as well as Eric Ebron, Jack Doyle and Mo Alie-Cox at tight end.
— Those taking center snaps with the quarterbacks at the beginning of practice were Kelly, Andrews, Boehm and Munyer, who was just signed by the team on Thursday.
— Brissett and Pascal connected for perhaps the second best offensive play of the day, as Pascal ran a picture-perfect sail route to the left sideline and Brissett delivered the ball right where it needed to be for Pascal to barely stay in-bounds before stepping out for what would've been about a 30-yard connection. Pascal had a very strong camp last year that parlayed into a roster spot, and is hoping to do the same this time around.
— Quarterbacks Phillip Walker and Chad Kelly split reps with the second and third teams on Thursday.
— Making his return to the practice field Thursday was wide receiver Deon Cain, who suffered a season-ending knee injury during the Colts' first preseason game a year ago after putting in a stellar camp performance as a rookie. Cain was targeted several times throughout Thursday's practice, and got his first grab of camp on a little inside slant route from Kelly.
(via Andrew Walker/Colts.com)
— Linebacker Darius Leonard was clearly excited to get back on the field after nursing an ankle injury during the offseason. He was fresh and energetic, and was the first in line during the positional linebacker drills. On one of their first reps of the backpedal-interception drill, he made an impressive leaping catch.
— We saw quite a bit from the Colts' rookies. You can see the natural athleticism from Bobby Okereke and E.J. Speed that the rookie linebackers are known for. Defensive end Gerri Green had a nice pass rush rep during 11-on-11s where he was breathing down quarterback Phillip Walker's neck on his blind side. While originally thought to be tried at linebacker, Ben Banogu continued working with the defensive linemen after showing his chops there as an end during the offseason.
— When 11-on-11 drills began, the theoretical first-team defense began in nickel and was as follows: Jabaal Sheard (LDE), Justin Houston (RDE), Denico Autry (DT), Margus Hunt (NT), Darius Leonard (WILL), Anthony Walker (MIKE), Quincy Wilson (CB), Pierre Desir (CB), Kenny Moore II (nickel CB), Malik Hooker (FS) and Clayton Geathers (SS). When they went to the base defense, Moore II took over for Wilson as an outside corner, and Matthew Adams came in as the SAM linebacker.
— There was a lot of personnel group switching, so the first, second and third-team defenses are far from black and white. A corner group of Jalen Collins and Rock Ya-Sin lined up outside with Nate Hairston in the nickel got reps with the first unit, as did safeties Khari Willis and George Odum, and linebackers Okereke and Adams.
— The theoretical second-team defense was: Al-Quadin Muhammed (LDE), Kemoko Turay (RDE), Tyquan Lewis (DT), Grover Stewart (NT), Zaire Franklin (WILL), Bobby Okereke (MIKE), Marvell Tell III (CB), Chris Milton (CB), Shakial Taylor (nickel CB), Matthias Farley (FS) and Rolan Milligan (SS).
— The theoretical third unit appeared to be: Ben Banogu (LDE), Carroll Phillips (RDE), Caraun Reid (DT), Jihad Ward (DT), E.J. Speed (LB), Ahmad Thomas (LB), Franklin (LB), Desir (CB), Moore II (CB), Isaiah Johnson (S) and Derrick Kindred (S).
— Again, many guys got run with the first, second and third units. Those who we've yet to mention got some reps with the second and third units for the most part.
— On the first play in 11-on-11s, Brissett threw about a 10-to-15-yard crossing route to Funchess, but Wilson was there to get low and bat it away.
— Taylor had a couple of nice plays on the day. On the first, he trailed rookie receiver Parris Campbell crossing over the middle and prevented Campbell from getting his hands on the ball. On the second one, Taylor came flying in on a blitz. While Phillip Walker was trying to throw an immediate flare pass to the right flat, Taylor flew through the air and got in the way.
— Another solid play by one of the depth defensive backs: Kelly threw a rope down the right side to Pascal, but Milligan was there to force it out of the strong-handed Pascal's grasp.
— Hooker started last year's camp out slowly after rehabbing from ACL surgery. That was not the case this year, as he looked really smooth, and really rangy. We even got to see some of his trademark centerfielder action as Geathers climbed up into the box/shallow safety spot.
— With the exception of a couple of chunk plays by the offense, the defense set the tone for the day. For the most part, they snuffed out the run game as well as the quick outside passing game. They were a spirited group because of it, with lots of cheers and hollering coming from their side. At one point, the defense forced running back Nyheim Hines out for a limited gain on a screen pass, and Hunt shouted out a booming, "Lets' go!" in the face of assistant general manager Ed Dodds along the sideline.
— There were several quality reps by the defensive linemen in a one-on-one drill against the offensive linemen. Those that can likely be declared "winners" of their reps include Autry (vs. Nelson), Muhammad on two occasions (vs. Clark), Jihad Ward (vs. Haeg), Carroll Phillips (vs. Webb), Sheard (vs. Smith) and Banogu (vs. Glowinski).
(via Jake Arthur/Colts.com)
— Kicker Adam Vinatieri was 8-of-9 on kicks for the day, connecting from 27, 28, 32, 37, 42, 48, 53 and 59 yards. His one miss was from about 59 yards out and appeared to be tipped by the defense.
— The initial kickoff return unit was as follows: (front row) Milton, Skai Moore, Willis, Okereke, Wilson; (second row) Adams, Odum, Franklin; (third row) Alie-Cox, Johnson; (returner) Campbell.
— In order of appearance, the kickoff returners were as follows: Campbell, Hines, Marlon Mack, Rogers, Cain and Pascal.
— During the second portion of kickoff drills, Vinatieri took a role as a coach, holding what appeared to be a script or play sheet and hollering out instructions to the kickoff unit.
— Pascal had a kickoff return which likely would've been a huge gain in a real game situation, subtly shifting right up the center of the field.
(via Jake Arthur/Colts.com)