2019 #ColtsCamp Notebook, Day 13: Defense Dominates Up Front

Indianapolis Colts training camp held at Grand Park Sports Campus in Westfield, IN on August 11, 2019.

WESTFIELD, Ind. — Today was Day 13 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:

TEAM

— The Colts were back in pads for Sunday’s practice at Grand Park. Among those who did not participate today: wide receiver Penny Hart (hamstring), kicker Adam Vinatieri (knee), wide receiver Deon Cain (maintenance day off), quarterback Andrew Luck (calf), wide receiver Parris Campbell (hamstring), running back Jordan Wilkins (foot), safety Clayton Geathers (maintenance day off), cornerback Rock Ya-Sin (injury not disclosed), cornerback Pierre Desir (injury not disclosed), tight end Ross Travis (injury not disclosed), center Daniel Munyer (injury not disclosed), tight end Eric Ebron (ankle/foot) and defensive end Jabaal Sheard (knee).

— The Colts today did see the return of center Ryan Kelly, who had missed several days due to a shoulder injury.

— While defensive tackle Margus Hunt was an early participant in Sunday’s practice, he watched the rest of the session off to the side with his shoulder pads off. Quarterback Jacoby Brissett also received some attention from trainers after being struck by defensive end Kemoko Turay late in today’s practice and didn’t return. We’ll see if head coach Frank Reich has an update when he next is scheduled to speak to reporters on Monday.

— We saw wide receiver/tight end vs. cornerback/safety one-on-one drills again today. The offense “won” 18 of the 30 (60 percent) reps. A “win” means the pass was caught or defensive pass interference was called. A “win” for the defense means any other result. Here is how it broke down: Zach Pascal def. Jalen Collins; Kenny Moore II def. Marcus Johnson; George Odum def. Gabe Holmes; Chester Rogers def. Shakial Taylor; Daurice Fountain def. Nate Hairston (one-handed catch by Fountain); Marvell Tell III def. Ashton Dulin; Chris Milton def. Jordan Veasy; Khari Willis def. Mo Alie-Cox; Zach Conque def. George Odum; Quincy Wilson def. Roger Lewis; Devin Funchess def. Jalen Collins; Hale Hentges def. Derrick Kindred; Zach Pascal def. Nate Hairston; Chester Rogers def. Kenny Moore II; Chris Milton def. Daurice Fountain; Krishawn Hogan def. Shakial Taylor; Rolan Milligan def. Gabe Holmes; Marcus Johnson def. Quincy Wilson; Jordan Veasy def. Jalen Collins; Isaiah Johnson def. Mo Alie-Cox; Chris Milton def. Ashton Dulin; Roger Lewis def. Marvell Tell III; Malik Hooker def. Zach Conque (Hooker cut in front of Conque and intercepted the pass with one hand; Chester Rogers def. Quincy Wilson; Nate Hairston def. Jordan Veasy; Hale Hentges def. Khari Willis; Zach Pascal def. Jalen Collins; Krishawn Hogan def. Marvell Tell III; Chester Rogers def. Rolan Milligan; and Jordan Veasy def. Nate Hairston.

— In one-on-one drills in the trenches, the offensive linemen seemed to dominate, potentially “winning” 26-of-33 reps (79 percent). In some cases, it can be difficult to determine an exact winner, because a good number of defensive line get a great initial burst and significantly push their counterpart back, but then the offensive lineman recovers and it’s somewhat of a toss-up from there. Among the defensive linemen who had more clear “victories” were Justin Houston vs. Anthony Castonzo, Al-Quadin Muhammad vs. Braden Smith, Kemoko Turay vs. Joe Haeg, Caraun Reid vs. Jake Eldrenkamp (twice), Ben Banogu vs. Jackson Barton and Obum Gwacham vs. Barton.

———————

OFFENSE

— With the return of Ryan Kelly to the field, the Colts finally had their normal first-team offensive line back in action for the first time since early in camp, featuring Anthony Castonzo (left tackle), Quenton Nelson (left guard), Kelly (center), Mark Glowinski (right guard) and Braden Smith (right tackle).

— Seeing some first-team reps at the skill positions were Jacoby Brissett at quarterback, Marlon Mack, Nyheim Hines and Jonathan Williams at running back, T.Y. Hilton, Devin Funchess, Chester Rogers, Zach Pascal and Marcus Johnson at receiver, and Jack Doyle, Mo Alie-Cox and Hale Hentges at tight end.

— The second unit offensive line was Joe Haeg (left tackle), Jake Eldrenkamp (left guard), Josh Andrews (center), Le'Raven Clark (right guard) and Jackson Barton (right tackle).

— The third unit offensive line was Antonio Garcia (left tackle), Eldrenkamp (left guard), Evan Boehm (center), Nate Theaker (right guard) and J'Marcus Webb (right tackle).

— There were several noteworthy plays today. Early in 11-on-11s, quarterback Phillip Walker hit Alie-Cox about 20 yards downfield, catching the ball near the left side. Just a couple plays later, a very similar play was made between Walker and Holmes.

— Quarterback Chad Kelly is showing the ability to make some very tight throws, at one point hitting Veasy on a downfield inside dig route perfectly in stride. Kelly continues to absorb more of the second-team reps throughout practice.

— The second session of 11-on-11s had the offense inside the defense's 10-yard line. Right away, Brissett found Hines from five yards out right inside the front of the end zone for a score. Cornerback Quincy Wilson gave Hines a good pop, but Hines was able to hang on. Hines would catch another five-yard touchdown on a little inside route from Kelly just a few minutes later.

— During the same session of 11-on-11s, the first-team offense was able to push their way through for a one-yard touchdown run by Mack after struggling to generate much on the ground to that point.

— The third-team offense was also able to get a score as Walker found Krishawn Hogan on a nice little inside pass from five yards out.

— In a later session of 11-on-11s, the Colts' offense then worked on digging themselves out of their own territory while lined up essentially on their own goal line.

— In the final session of 11-on-11s, Walker showed good scrambling ability, shuffling up in the pocket to buy time before throwing a beautiful dart over the middle of the field to Holmes about 15 yards downfield. On the next play, Walker found Hogan about 15 yards across the field, hitting the receiver perfectly in stride so he could pickup an extra 10 yards or so.

— The offense struggled to do much on the ground Sunday, but there was a big hole that opened up for running back Aca'Cedric Ware late in practice. It was a legitimate opening outside of the right tackle, and he went untouched about 15 to 20 yards downfield.

— The quarterbacks were sharp during 7-on-7s today. Brissett went 5-of-6 with two completions to Funchess, one to Mack, one to Hines and one to Alie-Cox.

— Kelly took the second-team reps in 7-on-7s and went 4-of-5 with two completions to Hines, one to Daurice Fountain and one to Williams.

— Walker went 4-of-4 on 7-on-7s with completions to Fountain, Roger Lewis, Zach Conque and a huge, 55-yard touchdown deep downfield to Ashton Dulin on his last throw of the session.

— There seems to be just no stopping T.Y. Hilton in practice. He made numerous plays again on Sunday. First, he caught a dig route on the right side about 15 yards downfield, and then turned upfield to pick up extra yardage which legitimately appeared to be there. Brissett then connected with Hilton again right after on another play of about 15 yards on the right sideline. Last, Brissett found Hilton again 10 yards down the right sideline. The throw was just out of the reach of cornerback Chris Milton's outstretched arms, but Hilton was there to show good concentration, make the catch and then turn upfield.

— Let's talk a little bit about Fountain, shall we? If you've been following any Colts writer over the last couple weeks, you've heard Fountain's name enough. This really appears to becoming a thing. Not only is he making highlight-reel catches on a regular basis, but he's also making several other catches every day. He has also become a fixture on the second unit, often getting plays drawn up where he's the first read. Today, his play of the day was a pass from Walker about 30 yards down right sideline. Fountain leaped as the ball arrived, high-pointed it over Collins' head and come down with it.

— Always being mindful to practice situational football, head coach Frank Reich setup the final play of the day as a no-time left lateral play. Lined up in their own territory, Walker threw out to the left side to Hilton, who lateraled back to Walker, who then launched the ball across the field to Hines before the play was blown dead.

— Before team drills got underway, quarterbacks and centers paired off with Kelly snapping to Brissett, Andrews snapping to Walker, and Boehm snapping to Kelly.

(via Jake Arthur/Colts.com)

———————

DEFENSE

— With top of its top cornerbacks — Pierre Desir and Rock Ya-Sin — out Sunday, the Colts’ defense saw a whole lot of rotation at that position throughout practice. But one constant lineup whenever 11-on-11 sessions would begin was: Al-Quadin Muhammad (defensive end), Denico Autry (defensive tackle), Grover Stewart (defensive tackle) and Justin Houston (defensive end) up front; Anthony Walker (MIKE) and Darius Leonard (WILL) at linebacker; Quincy Wilson and Jalen Collins (outside) and Kenny Moore II (slot) at cornerback; and Khari Willis and Malik Hooker at safety.

— Muhammad had a nice rush early on where he was actually able to cleanly knock the ball out of quarterback Jacoby Brissett’s hand as he was getting ready to throw. The general rule is to stay away from quarterbacks (or anyone wearing the red jerseys), but this was a pretty innocent-looking play by the Colts defensive end.

— Denico Autry is likely leading the field in the “Colts.com 2019 Defensive Player of Training Camp” race. It seems as if every day he’s constantly bullying his way to the backfield to stuff a run or get in the quarterback’s face, and he’s won a high percentage of his 1-on-1 reps against whatever offensive lineman has come his way. Autry might’ve had his best-overall day of camp on Sunday, however. On one early play, for example, he easily slipped by the line to bear down on running back Marlon Mack for what would’ve been a major tackle for loss.

— Later in the day, Autry, Justin Houston and Kemoko Turay all won their individual matchups and likely would’ve converged at the quarterback for a sack had it been a real game setting. I’ve said this before, but I do not envy the QB in these scenarios.

— Speaking of those guys, a potential third-down (obvious passing situation) defensive front to keep an eye on moving forward? Houston and Turay off the edge, and Autry and Tyquan Lewis up the middle. We saw this at several third-down junctures on Sunday, and it makes plenty of sense given each players’ pass-rushing traits.

— The Colts’ defense was dominant in two areas in particular today: against the run and against screen plays. Early in 11-on-11s, wide receiver Jordan Veasy got the screen pass out in space, but linebacker Zaire Franklin came flying in and knocked the ball out of his hands, which was recovered by defensive end Obum Gwacham.

— The run defense, meanwhile, was particularly nasty during a highly-competitive (and, at times, heated) goal-to-go scenario. Run after run after run was stuffed at the goal line, and it didn’t matter if it was the first team, second team or third team. The offense did break into the end zone a couple times, but that was more the exception on this day.

— Marvell Tell III had a solid performance in his NFL debut at cornerback in Thursday’s preseason opener against the Buffalo Bills, and he made another quality play on Sunday, draping wide receiver Ashton Dulin in coverage down the left sideline and knocking a Phillip Walker pass in the air, which was intercepted by safety Rolan Milligan. After some back-and-forth talk between the offensive and defensive players to that point, it’s probably no surprise that the defenders took their time to enjoy this particular play.

— As mentioned in the OFFENSE section, we saw an end-of-half/end-of-game last-second lateral fest by the offense to wrap up Sunday’s practice. To defend against this play, the Colts’ defense had Lewis, Autry and Houston as a three-man front, and then 20-25 yards behind them there was a five-man grouping spread out across the field consisting of Collins, Bobby Okereke, Wilson, Moore II and Nate Hairston, and then right behind that group was a three-man grouping of Walker, Hooker and Willis.

(via Andrew Walker/Colts.com)

———————

SPECIAL TEAMS

— The Colts continued to hammer home punt coverage drills today. The first group out there included Chris Milton/Nate Hairston at gunner, Nyheim Hines as the personal protector and Chester Rogers returning the punt. The second group had George Odum/Matthias Farley as gunners, Hines as protector and Rogers returning. The third group featured Marcus Johnson and Marvell Tell III as gunners, Khari Willis as personal protector and Rogers returning. And the final group had Ashton Dulin and Hairston as gunners, Willis as the protector and Hines returning.

— Others that got reps returning punts on Sunday: Krishawn Hogan and Jordan Veasy.

— During the final special teams portion of the day, Chester Rogers practiced fielding punts with one arm behind his back. As far as we could tell, he secured all of them.

(via Andrew Walker/Colts.com)

Related Content

Advertising