WESTFIELD, Ind. — Today was Day 12 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:
— Fresh off Thursday’s preseason opener against the Buffalo Bills and an off day on Friday, the Colts were back in helmets, shells and shorts on Saturday. Among those who did not participate in today’s practice: wide receiver Penny Hart (hamstring), kicker Adam Vinatieri (knee), quarterback Andrew Luck (calf), wide receiver Parris Campbell (hamstring), running back Jordan Wilkins (foot), tight end Ross Travis (injury not disclosed), guard Ian Silberman (injury not disclosed), center Ryan Kelly (shoulder), tight end Eric Ebron (foot/ankle) and defensive end Jabaal Sheard (knee).
— Making their returns to the practice field today after missing some time of late were linebacker Ben Banogu and tight end Jack Doyle.
— There was a very special guest at today’s practice: Dwight Freeney. The former great Colts pass rusher helped work in with the defensive linemen at times and then offered some words of wisdom to the team when the day was over. Freeney will be inducted into the Colts’ Ring of Honor Nov. 10 in the team’s Week 10 matchup against the Miami Dolphins at Lucas Oil Stadium (get your tickets for the game by clicking here).
— Keeping up with aesthetics, the offensive and defensive players switched colors on Saturday, with offense wearing white practice jerseys and the defense wearing blue.
— The offense “won” 17-of-29 (59 percent) one-on-one reps between the pass catchers and the defensive backs today, with a win meaning the offense caught the pass or drew a flag, or the defense forced any sort of incompletion or drew an flag of its own. The results: Pierre Desir def. Krishawn Hogan; Quincy Wilson def. Zach Pascal; Chester Rogers def. Shakial Taylor; Clayton Geathers def. Gabe Holmes; Nate Hairston def. Marcus Johnson; Daurice Fountain def. Rock Ya-Sin (the ball squirted off Fountain’s hands and he snagged it right back out of the air despite being heavily draped by Ya-Sin); Mo Alie-Cox def. Derrick Kindred; Roger Lewis def. Jalen Collins; Zach Conque def. Isaiah Johnson; Chris Milton def. Ashton Dulin; Jordan Veasy def. Desir; Pascal def. Tell III; Hogan def. Taylor; George Odum def. Holmes; Malik Hooker def. Hale Hentges; Fountain def. Wilson; Hairston def. Rogers; Ya-Sin Def. Devin Funchess; Hogan def. Holmes; Kenny Moore II def. Pascal; Alie-Cox def. Matthias Farley; Collins def. Veasy; Milton def. Dulin; Tell III def. Lewis.
— The offense opened up 11-on-11s with its usual offensive line (except for center Ryan Kelly, who remains out with a shoulder injury): Anthony Castonzo at left tackle, Quenton Nelson at left guard, Josh Andrews at center, Mark Glowinski at right guard and Braden Smith at right tackle.
— Those skill position players who were seen getting early first-team reps with the offense included Devin Funchess, T.Y. Hilton, Chester Rogers, Jack Doyle, Marlon Mack, Marcus Johnson, Hale Hentges and Mo Alie-Cox.
— Speaking of Alie-Cox, there were two straight pass plays to the former basketball standout that show exactly why he’s so dangerous on the field. The first play was just a perfectly-placed ball over the middle from quarterback Jacoby Brissett, as he allowed Alie-Cox to climb the ladder and get the ball where only he could get it over linebacker Anthony Walker for about a 12-yard gain. The two hooked up on a 54-yard touchdown play not long after, and it was much the same deal; the ball was delivered up high where only Alie-Cox could extend and go get it and do something with it after the catch (safety George Odum just missed breaking it up). One caveat: it was possible Tyquan Lewis would’ve had a sack off the edge on Brissett on the second play had it been a real game.
— The unquestioned standouts from Saturday’s practice, at least offensively, were second-year receivers Deon Cain and Daurice Fountain. Cain was hauling in long-range jump balls and deep passes left and right in 11-on-11 and 7-on-7 work, while Fountain was running precise routes and making tough, tough catches even when he was being absolutely mauled in coverage.
— Cain had a nice deep ball in 7-on-7s in which quarterback Chad Kelly put it right on the money down the left sideline, just out of reach of cornerback Marvell Tell III. Later in 11-on-11s, quarterback Phillip Walker floated a pass towards Cain, who was in single coverage against Jalen Collins, and he was able to get his footing, hop in the air and snag the ball at its highest point.
— Walker and Kelly seemed to be rotating reps with the No. 2 and 3 offenses on Saturday, although Kelly seemed to be getting a few more backup opportunities throughout the day. Kelly shined on Thursday in the preseason opener against the Bills, completing 13 of his 19 passing attempts for 121 yards, and also running the ball four times for 53 yards, including a 33-yard touchdown keeper.
— Le’Raven Clark, who has been the team’s primary swing tackle throughout camp, was seen getting a majority of his work at guard on Saturday. The second-team offense line consisted of Joe Haeg (left tackle), Daniel Munyer (left guard), Jake Eldrenkamp (center), Clark (right guard) and Jackson Barton (right tackle).
— The third-team offensive line consisted of Antonio Garcia (left tackle), Eldrenkamp (left guard), Evan Boehm (center), Haeg (right guard) and J’Marcus Webb (right tackle). Clark also got some work in with this group at right guard.
— During a red zone drill late in practice, Brissett found Devin Funchess in the end zone for a picture-perfect back-shoulder fade and the nine-yard touchdown. Cornerback Quincy Wilson had good coverage on the play, but as they say, there’s no defense for a perfect pass.
— Kelly then found tight end Gabe Holmes for a nine-yard touchdown, as cornerback Nate Hairston slipped and/or fell while in coverage, although he was imploring the official for a hold on the play.
— Brissett was a perfect 5-of-5 in 7-on-7 work, although the situation the offense was in — with its back up against its own goal line — called for a few more checkdowns and quick, short passes than usual. Doyle and Alie-Cox each hauled in two passes, While Hilton caught the other.
— Kelly was 3-for-4 in 7-on-7 work, completing passes to Hentges, Cain (the deep ball vs. Tell III) and Krishawn Hogan in a intermediate play to the middle of the field in which he collided with safety Derrick Kindred and Hairston and still held on. Hogan’s strong camp continues.
— Running backs coach Tom Rathman was really preaching patience with his backs during positional drills early in Saturday’s practice, especially when it came to delayed handoffs. Because oftentimes these plays involve guards and tackles pulling, it takes the right amount of footwork and patience by the running back to make sure he’s getting the ball and heading towards the gap at the perfect time. Otherwise, the gaps fill up and there’s traffic jams, leading to very little yardage if that.
— The first-team defense opened up in nickel to start 11-on-11s. The lineup was: Al-Quadin Muhammad (defensive end), Denico Autry (defensive tackle), Margus Hunt (defensive tackle) and Justin Houston (defensive end) up front; Anthony Walker (MIKE) and Darius Leonard (WILL) at linebacker; Pierre Desir, Quincy Wilson and Kenny Moore II (slot) at cornerback; and Clayton Geathers and Malik Hooker at safety.
— With Jabaal Sheard continuing to miss time after undergoing a knee procedure, the Colts have started to slide Tyquan Lewis, who had been working in with Autry at defensive tackle/three-tech, over to defensive end much more frequently. Lewis was part of a second defensive line today that also included Jihad Ward (defensive tackle), Grover Stewart (defensive tackle) and Kemoko Turay (defensive end).
— A third defensive line group seen Saturday: Ben Banogu (defensive end), Sterling Shippy (defensive tackle), Caraun Reid (defensive tackle) and Gerri Green (defensive end).
— When the Colts went to their first-team dime defense Saturday, Rock Ya-Sin came in at corner and Khari Willis came in at safety, with Geathers moving up as the dime linebacker.
— When the Colts opened up a second period of 11-on-11s, Bobby Okereke was seen getting snaps at MIKE linebacker alongside Leonard, and Ya-Sin was in at cornerback. Hunt had a nice pass knockdown at the line on quarterback Jacoby Brissett on a 3rd and 7 play during this sequence; he’s been knocking down an awful lot of passes in camp so far.
— Defensive coordinator Matt Eberflus did a little less mixing and matching Saturday — but there was still some. When the Colts went to a dime package during the aforementioned 11-on-11 period midway through practice, Khari Willis and George Odum were at safety, Turay was at defensive end and Geathers was the dime linebacker. Later, Nate Hairston was getting some work at corner in place of Desir, and E.J. Speed was seen getting first-team reps at SAM linebacker.
— Cornerback Jalen Collins briefly got some attention from team trainers during Saturday’s practice, but eventually returned.
— Moore II had a timely pick during a red zone drill, as he was in the right spot to snag a deflected Brissett pass at the defense’s 5-yard line to take advantage of some really solid coverage by Wilson on wide receiver T.Y. Hilton.
— The rookie Willis had a tremendous jump on a Brissett pass attempt to wide receiver Zach Pascal, but couldn’t quite hang on to the football along the right sideline. Still showed off some good instincts by the Michigan State product.
— Another defensive lineup seen late in practice: Lewis (defensive end), Stewart (defensive tackle), Ward (defensive tackle), Turay (defensive end) up front; Matthew Adams (MIKE) and Okereke (WILL) at linebacker; Collins, Tell III and Wilson (slot) at cornerback; and Odum and Derrick Kindred at safety.
— The Colts used the very end of Saturday’s practice to work on defending Hail Mary passes to the end zone. They showed a three-man defensive front with one linebacker behind them, and then two lines of a mixture of linebackers, corners and safeties about 20-25 yards behind the front. For the most part, the defenders were just working on “boxing out” and knocking down passes today, instead of going for an ill-advised interception and risking the ball being somehow deflected into the hands of an offensive player in the end zone.
— The Colts opened up practice today with a punt coverage drill. Those who opened up at gunner included Chris Milton and George Odum, while Clayton Geathers opened up as the personal protector.
— Those who followed as gunners: Nate Hairston/Rock Ya-Sin; Marcus Johnson/Matthias Farley; and Marvell Tell III and Ashton Dulin.
— Those who also got work as personal protectors: Khari Willis and Nyheim Hines.
— Among those who fielded punts today were Chester Rogers, Hines, Jordan Veasy, Dulin, Deon Cain, Krishawn Hogan and Zach Pascal.
— There was also a kickoff return period in the middle of practice. Those who opened up first on this unit: Farley, Bobby Okereke, Odum, E.J. Speed and Milton (up front), Johnson, Willis and Zaire Franklin behind them, Pascal and Jonathan Williams as the upbacks and Hines returning.
— A second kick return lineup: Milton, Speed, Willis, Okereke, Farley (up front), Anthony Walker, Odum and Matthew Adams behind them, Williams and Mo Alie-Cox as upbacks and Pascal returning.
— A third kick return lineup: Ya-Sin, Ahmad Thomas, Rolan Milligan and Hairston/Tell III up front, Williams/Franklin, Derrick Kindred and Carroll Phillips/Adams behind them, Johnson/Hale Hentges and Franklin/Pascal as upbacks and Dulin/Hines returning.
— Finally, the last group working in on kickoff return: Milton, Speed, Willis, Okereke and Farley (up front), Walker, Odum and Phillips behind them, Alie-Cox and Johnson as upbacks and Marlon Mack/Dulin returning.