WESTFIELD, Ind. — Today was Day 5 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:
— Tuesday was the team’s first morning practice of camp. Those who did not participate included wide receiver Penny Hart (hamstring), quarterback Andrew Luck (calf), wide receiver Parris Campbell (hamstring), defensive end Kemoko Turay (shoulder) and defensive end Jabaal Sheard (knee).
— Wide receiver Devin Funchess and right tackle Braden Smith both received attention from team trainers during Tuesday’s practice, but both eventually returned to the field. Smith would later be replaced at right tackle by Le’Raven Clark during a red zone period.
— Those who missed Sunday’s practice but returned Tuesday included tight end Gabe Holmes and defensive tackle/end Denico Autry.
— We saw some competitive running back vs. linebacker passing drills on Tuesday. The running backs “won” nine of the 15 (60 percent) reps, with a “win” meaning 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: Darius Leonard def. Marlon Mack; Nyheim Hines def. Matthew Adams; Jordan Wilkins def. Anthony Walker; Ahmad Thomas def. Jonathan Williams; Keith Ford def. Zaire Franklin; Skai Moore def. Mack; Hines def. Bobby Okereke; E.J. Speed def. Wilkins; Williams def. Drew Lewis; Ford def. Leonard; Mack def. Adams; Franklin def. Hines; Wilkins def. Walker (Walker batted the pass, but Wilkins caught it before it hit the ground); Williams def. Thomas (Williams caught it in his midsection with one hand down the right sideline); Ford def. Moore.
— In one-on-one drills pitting the receivers against the defensive backs, the offense would earn a “win” on 16 of the 21 (76 percent) reps. This session got a little messy, with one receiver slipping and falling, and then pass interference flags being thrown on four other snaps. Here’s how it shook out: Zach Pascal def. Pierre Desir; Steve Ishmael def. Kenny Moore II (flag); Eric Ebron def. Clayton Geathers (flag); Chester Rogers slips vs. Shakial Taylor; Marcus Johnson def. Rock Ya-Sin; Ashton Dulin def. Nate Hairston; Mo Alie-Cox def. Malik Hooker; George Odum def. Jack Doyle; Daurice Fountain def. Quincy Wilson; Funchess def. Jalen Collins; Khari Willis def. Hale Hentges; Krishawn Hogan def. Chris Milton; Jordan Veasy def. Marvell Tell III; Derrick Kindred def. Holmes; Pascal def. Desir; Ishmael def. Moore II (flag); Ebron def. Matthias Farley (flag); Rogers def. Taylor; Ya-Sin def. Johnson; Hogan def. Milton; and Pascal def. Ya-Sin.
— Next up was the individual offensive vs. defensive lineman drill. For this one, we awarded wins and losses based on if the defender was able to get past the blocker upright in a reasonable time, or if the offensive player kept the defender at bay. With it scored 16-9 (64 percent) in favor of the offensive line, here were the matchups: Al-Quadin Muhammad def. Le'Raven Clark; Mark Glowinski def. Tyquan Lewis; Ryan Kelly def. Margus Hunt; Denico Autry def. Quenton Nelson; Anthony Castonzo def. Justin Houston; Obum Gwacham def. Jackson Barton; Joe Haeg def. Sterling Shippy; Josh Andrews def. Grover Stewart; Jake Eldrenkamp def. Jihad Ward; Antonio Garcia def. Carroll Phillips; Muhammad def. Clark; William Poehls def. Shippy; Evan Boehm def. Hunt; Shippy def. Daniel Munyer; Gerri Green def. J'Marcus Webb; Gwacham def. Barton; Ward def. Joe Haeg; Boehm def. Stewart; Nelson def. Lewis; Castonzo def. Phillips; Gwacham def. Barton; Poehls def. Shippy; Munyer def. Caraun Reid; Eldrenkamp def. Ward; Garcia def. Green
— Tuesday’s practice featured a heavy dose of inside-out routes in the passing game, which indicated an effort by the quarterbacks to get rid of the ball quickly off the snap. The offense had quite a bit of success with this approach. First, quarterback Jacoby Brissett, on 3rd and 6, found Chester Rogers near the right sideline, getting about 10-12 yards. Then, on the very next play, Brissett found tight end Jack Doyle at the exact same spot. The play that followed was a drag route to T.Y. Hilton, who took advantage of the defense clearing out around the area — possibly because of the previous two plays — to get some nice yards after the catch.
— The offensive line had its usual lineup today: left tackle Anthony Castonzo, left guard Quenton Nelson, center Ryan Kelly, right guard Mark Glowinski and right tackle Braden Smith. The Colts opened up 11-on-11s with a three-receiver set featuring Hilton (left) and Devin Funchess (right) lined up out wide, and Chester Rogers in the slot. Jack Doyle was the lone tight end, and Marlon Mack was the running back lined up behind Brissett.
— Running back Nyheim Hines and tight end Eric Ebron were also used in rotation in the first few plays.
— Quarterbacks Phillip Walker and Chad Kelly once again split the second- and third-team reps on Tuesday. Each had at least a couple big-time throws on the day, too. Kelly threw a dime on a crossing route to wide receiver Steve Ishmael in the middle of the field for a moderate gain; Ishmael, who jumped up to snag the pass, maintained possession after hitting the ground. Walker, meanwhile, found Zach Pascal for a 38-yard touchdown, putting the ball right where it needed to be over the top on the streak route to the end zone.
— Kelly and Daurice Fountain hooked up for a slick-looking play, as the second-year receiver ran an out route against cornerback Chris Milton and Kelly delivered a perfect pass to the left sideline, where Fountain made the catch and demonstrated some nice “toe drag swag” to earn the completion before heading out of bounds. Tight end Mo Alie-Cox also earns some props on this play, as he came out of his stance to chip block defensive end Carroll Phillips to give Kelly just enough extra time to get the throw off.
— The second-team offensive line on Tuesday included Antonio Garcia (left tackle), Jake Eldrenkamp (left guard), Josh Andrews (center), Joe Haeg (right guard) and Le’Raven Clark (right tackle). The third-team line consisted of J’Marcus Webb (left tackle), Daniel Munyer (left guard), Evan Boehm (center), William Poehls (right guard) and Jackson Barton (right tackle).
— Pre-snap penalties were an issue for the Colts’ offense throughout Tuesday’s practice. At one point, Garcia was temporarily replaced by Webb as the second-team left tackle after a false start penalty.
— The Colts broke out some RPO work once they started a late red zone drill. Starting from the defense’s 18-yard line, Brissett faked a handoff and found Ebron in a wide open seam around the five-yard line. It would’ve been a battle to the end zone from there in a real game, but these plays are designed to get you a little more room where the field actually shrinks.
— The second and third teams found success running the ball once they faced a 3rd and Goal from the 5-yard line. Walker handed off to Nyheim Hines, who used his speed to beat the defense to the right edge and sneak into the front of the end zone. On the very next play, also a 3rd and 5 scenario, running back Jonathan Williams appeared as if he was running the exact same way, but then cut inside to take advantage of the over-pursuing defenders and easily get into the end zone.
— Those who think T.Y. Hilton is just going to take it easy in his eighth NFL season are sorely mistaken. First, there’s Hilton the leader: he pulled Rogers off to the side at one point Tuesday and helped him nail down his footwork on particular technique. Then there’s Hilton the worker: Hilton was doing an individual drill off to the side in which one coach (in this instance, offensive quality control coach Gunnard Twyner) used a towel to hold one of Hilton’s arms back while another coach (Kevin Patullo) threw him a pass that he had to catch with both hands. This helps train your body to get used to physical corners who are known to get away with holding an arm down as the play is developing.
(via Andrew Walker/Colts.com)
— The first-team defense opened up in the nickel package, featuring: Muhammad (LDE), Autry (DT), Hunt (NT), Houston (RDE), Walker (MIKE), Leonard (WILL), Pierre Desir (LCB), Quincy Wilson (RCB), Kenny Moore II (nickel CB), Malik Hooker (FS) and Clayton Geathers (SS). The defense then appeared to go into a dime formation, which featured Muhammad and Houston at end, Lewis and Autry at tackle, Leonard at linebacker, Desir, Wilson, Moore II and Geathers at corner/upback, with Hooker and Khari Willis back at safety.
— Also getting first-team reps at various points were rookie linebacker E.J. Speed, and safeties George Odum and Matthias Farley.
— There was a lot of dime formation work today, so there were quite a few substitutions, especially among the corners and safeties. Most, if not all of the defensive backs got some work with the second and third units.
— Arguably the best defensive play today was made by Desir, who stood his ground as running back Hines approached on a stretch run to the right, and Desir stretched his arm out and pulled the ball out of Hines' grasp; Desir also recovered the fumble. Later in practice right before the end, quarterback Jacoby Brissett would loft a fade into the end zone for receiver Chester Rogers, who nearly came down with it but was stripped by Desir.
— Desir wasn't the only defensive back playing heads-up football today. Willis made a play early in 11-on-11s in which receiver Zach Pascal ran a shallow comeback, and Willis flew in and broke up the pass.
— Another rookie making a play: After getting some action with the first unit, Speed promptly shut down an outside run play to the left, flying out from his WILL spot to make contact with the runner and help force them out of bounds.
— In positional work at the beginning of practice, the cornerbacks were working on picking up trips/bunched receiver sets. This is important to focus on before the season because offenses that run those looks can terrorize a defense with them if they're not prepared.
(via Jake Arthur/Colts.com)
— Kicker Adam Vinatieri was perfect on the day, going 9-of-9 on field goal attempts, connecting from 25, 28, 33, 37, 41, 45, 50, 54 and 58 yards.
— The special teams unit focused on punts today. The gunners were Krishawn Hogan, Rock Ya-Sin, Marvell Tell III, Jalen Collins, Shakial Taylor and Ashton Dulin. Lining up as the punt protectors were Willis and Jordan Wilkins. Pascal, Hines and Rogers were today's punt returners.
— Tight end Jack Doyle and center/guard Boehm got some work as long snappers today, both off to the side, and then Boehm during a part of live field goal drills. It's important to have a backup ready as an emergency option in the event that regular long snapper Luke Rhodes were to miss time.
(via Jake Arthur/Colts.com)