2019 #ColtsCamp Notebook, Day 8: Wide Receivers Continue Fierce Back-And-Forth Battle

WESTFIELD, Ind. — Today was Day 8 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 came back from an off day Friday with a helmets-and-shells practice on Saturday. Those who did not participate in Saturday’s practice included wide receiver Penny Hart (hamstring), quarterback Andrew Luck (calf), wide receiver Parris Campbell (hamstring), tight end Ross Travis (injury not disclosed), linebacker Ben Banogu (hamstring), center Ryan Kelly (shoulder), tight end Jack Doyle (oblique) and defensive end Jabaal Sheard (knee).

— Those returning to practice Saturday after missing some time included wide receiver Deon Cain, wide receiver Devin Funchess, running back Jordan Wilkins, tackle/guard Braden Smith, tackle Anthony Castonzo, tight end Eric Ebron, defensive end/tackle Denico Autry and defensive end Justin Houston.

— Linebacker Darius Leonard got some attention from team trainers during Saturday’s practice as he dealt with some back spasms, head coach Frank Reich said. Leonard later returned.

— Here’s how one-on-one coverage drills between running backs and linebackers shook out, with a “win” for the offense meaning a completed catch or flag against the defense, and a “win” for the defense meaning an incompletion: Marlon Mack def. Quincy Wilson (who sometimes lines up at dime linebacker); Nyheim Hines def. Ahmad Thomas; Jordan Wilkins def. Bobby Okereke; Jonathan Williams def. Matthew Adams; Zaire Franklin def. Keith Ford; Mack def. Skai Moore; Leonard def. Hines; Wilkins def. Anthony Walker; Thomas def. Williams; Adams def. Ford; Franklin def. Mack; Hines def. Okereke; Wilkins def. Moore; Williams def. Walker; and E.J. Speed def. Ford. Note: there were no officials watching this drill, so it’s possible a couple of the linebackers got away with some holding in their coverage.

— The offensive line came out on top in one-on-one drills against the defensive line, winning 16-of-25 (64 percent) of the reps. Those defenders who were able to “win” and get past their blocker included: Margus Hunt vs. Le’Raven Clark; Al-Quadin Muhammad vs. Antonio Garcia; Caraun Reid vs. Jake Eldrenkamp; Kemoko Turay vs. J’Marcus Webb; Reid vs. Daniel Munyer; Sterling Shippy vs. Eldrenkamp; Grover Stewart vs. Mark Glowinski; Denico Autry vs. Munyer; and Tyquan Lewis vs. Evan Boehm.

— We saw pass catcher vs. defensive back 1-on-1 drills again today, which always yield entertaining results. The offense “won” 15 of the 24 (63 percent) reps, including the first nine reps of the drill. 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. Kenny Moore II; Marcus Johnson def. Pierre Desir; Eric Ebron def. Darius Leonard (Leonard was a bit grabby with Ebron going downfield, and then Ebron had to leap and high-point the ball to make the catch); Daurice Fountain def. Rock Ya-Sin (Fountain hit Ya-Sin with a stutter-double move down the left sideline and then made a jumping back-shoulder catch); Steve Ishmael def. Nate Hairston; Mo Alie-Cox def. Malik Hooker; Hale Hentges def. E.J. Speed; Chester Rogers def. Quincy Wilson; Jordan Veasy def. Jalen Collins; Chris Milton def. Ashton Dulin; Shakial Taylor def. Marcus Johnson; Kenny Moore II def. Krishawn Hogan; Clayton Geathers def. Eric Ebron; Roger Lewis def. Marvell Tell III (before Lewis had even made his cut, one of the other receivers watching shouted, "He's got 'em”); George Odum def. Gabe Holmes; Steve Ishmael def. Pierre Desir (Ishmael ran a go route for a 40-yard touchdown down the right side); Rock Ya-Sin def. Zach Pascal (Pascal initially had the ball on the left sideline but then Ya-Sin got a hand in and stripped it for the incompletion); Khari Willis def. Zach Conque; Quincy Wilson def. Chester Rogers; Chris Milton def. Daurice Fountain (Fountain was running about a 10-yard comeback down the left side when Milton positioned himself in front of him and got the interception); Jordan Veasy def. Chris Milton (Veasy ran a go route for a 40-yard touchdown on the right side); Mo Alie-Cox def. Rolan Milligan; Krishawn Hogan def. Kenny Moore II; Marcus Johnson def. Jalen Collins.

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OFFENSE

— Offensive linemen Anthony Castonzo and Braden Smith were back in the lineup today after missing Day 7 on Thursday, but Ryan Kelly was not, which meant obvious adjustments in the lineup. Here was today's first-team line: Anthony Castonzo (left tackle), Quenton Nelson (left guard), Josh Andrews (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 and Nyheim Hines at running back, T.Y. Hilton, Devin Funchess, Chester Rogers, Zach Pascal and Marcus Johnson at receiver, and Eric Ebron and Mo Alie-Cox at tight end.

— The second unit was Le'Raven Clark (left tackle), Evan Boehm (left guard), Jake Eldrenkamp (center), Joe Haeg (right guard) and Jackson Barton (right tackle). We also saw J'Marcus Webb get some reps with the second unit at left tackle.

— The third unit line was Antonio Garcia (left tackle), Daniel Munyer (left guard), Eldrenkamp (center), Ian Silberman (right guard) and Barton (right tackle). Webb also got reps with the third unit at right tackle.

— A good portion of the first 11-on-11 session was devoted to the hurry-up offense, which we also saw on Thursday. Quarterback Jacoby Brissett quickly got in a groove by relying on his tight ends right away. He hit Ebron on a wide-open pass to the left side first, which went for roughly 10 yards. Brissett then rolled out to his right to find Alie-Cox for a modest gain. Brissett then drew the right side of the defensive line offsides a few plays later using a hard count.

— It was another solid day for a trio of young receivers in Deon Cain, Daurice Fountain and Krishawn Hogan. All three made a handful of catches throughout the day for the second and third units, several of which were more difficult to come down with. Cain has made some flash plays most days he's been able to participate in practice, and Fountain and Hogan are especially coming on more so in the last few practices.

— Today had its share of impressive plays. Early in 11-on-11s in a late-developing play, Brissett found Mack for about 10-15 yards cutting inside off the right seam on what appeared to be an angle route (fake the route outside, cut inside) for Mack. Guys like Mack and Hines can really exploit defenses with this route.

— In 11-on-11s, quarterback Phillip Walker quickly hit Pascal on a flare route on the left side, and a convoy developed in front of Pascal that might have allowed him to get about 15 to 20 yards downfield.

— Sometimes when plays break down, big things can happen. During one of the 11-on-11 sessions, Walker scrambled around to buy time while keeping his eyes downfield as he suddenly whipped the ball across his body and hit Johnson downfield for about a 55-yard touchdown.

— For the third practice in a row, Pascal has come down with a long-distance score. Saturday during 7-on-7s, Brissett found him wide open down the right side for a 50-yard touchdown. Pascal was mostly a possession receiver in 2018, but he's clearly showing off his downfield prowess this summer.

— Jordan Wilkins returned today after missing the last couple of practices and picked up right where he left off. He displayed an uncanny ability to earn yards inside the tackles using his shiftiness and vision.

— The Colts ended practice with some 11-on-11 drills backed up onto the defense's two-yard line. This could have been short-yardage, goal-line work, but it may have also been practicing two-point attempts. The offense cashed in a couple of times, with Brissett first drilling Ebron low where only the tight end could get it, and then running back Jonathan Williams maneuvering his way into the end zone.

— Before team drills got underway, quarterbacks and centers paired off with Jacoby Brissett taking snaps from Joh Andrews, Phillip Walker taking snaps from Jake Eldrenkamp and Chad Kelly taking snaps from Joe Haeg.

— At the beginning of practice in positional drills, the wide receivers did a drill where they were thrown a high pass, and they had to extend/leap for it while wide receivers coach Kevin Patullo and offensive quality control coach Gunnard Twyner wore long pads on their arms and tried to make the completion tougher on the receivers. Naturally, the 6-foot-4 Devin Funchess took to this exercise seamlessly.

— Always stressing the importance of ball security, running backs coach Tom Rathman could be heard instructing the tailbacks, "Pad level low, wrist high!" In keeping their pad level low, it makes it tougher for defenders to not only tackle running backs, but it's also more difficult to affect their grasp on the ball. The runner's wrist being positioned high also forms a stronger hold on the ball.

(via Jake Arthur/Colts.com)

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DEFENSE

— We saw all sorts of defensive combinations on Saturday — perhaps more than usual, even for defensive coordinator Matt Eberflus, who loves to mix it up in camp practices. But one theme noticed throughout Saturday’s practice was how Margus Hunt continued to work in at defensive end with the first unit. With starter Jabaal Sheard out with a knee injury, Hunt gives the Colts a versatile playmaker that has proven he can get it done inside or off the edge. Depending on the matchup, Indy can go with either Hunt or Al-Quadin Muhammad in Sheard’s spot and feel extremely comfortable.

— Others who were consistently with the “first team” on Saturday: Justin Houston (defensive end); Denico Autry and Grover Stewart (defensive tackle); Darius Leonard (WILL), Bobby Okereke (MIKE) and E.J. Speed (SAM) at linebacker; Pierre Desir, Kenny Moore (outside and nickel) and either Rock Ya-Sin, Quincy Wilson or Nate Hairston (cornerback); and Malik Hooker and Clayton Geathers or Khari Willis (safety). Anthony Walker also got reps with the ones at MIKE linebacker.

— When Leonard was out being tended to by trainers, the Colts showed a look of Walker at the MIKE and Okereke at the WILL.

— There were several combinations up front for the “second team” and “third team” defensive lines. Al-Quadin Muhammad and Kemoko Turay seemed to be firmly in place with the second team at defensive end, and as Tyquan Lewis at defensive tackle. Gerri Green got some second-team reps at defensive end, and was joined by Carroll Phillips (defensive end), Caraun Reid and Sterling Shippy (defensive tackle) on the “third-team” line.

— The Colts at one point showed a different defensive formation with three defensive linemen — Muhammad, Lewis and Houston. Willis seemed to be the extra defender at safety with Autry on the sideline.

— Lewis was a monster on Saturday, both from the interior and off the edge. He had at least three big-time rushes of the quarterback, two of which forced quick throws, and he also stuffed a Jordan Wilkins run in the backfield. This staff is high on the second-year Ohio State product, and you can certainly see why.

— There was one play in which Autry, Hunt and Houston all could’ve possibly been credited with a sack of quarterback Jacoby Brissett. I wouldn’t especially want to be at the bottom of that pile.

— Ya-Sin and wide receiver Devin Funchess continue to have some interesting battles on the outside. Ya-Sin had a nice pass breakup on a pass Funchess’ way Saturday, and I’m not quite sure if the rookie had any words for the veteran. They’re getting solid work against each other, regardless.

— Matthew Adams had a nice pass breakup near the line of scrimmage. On the snap, he very quietly and slowly snuck up into a gap in the defensive line and timed his jump perfectly to knock the pass in the air. The ball fell to the grass, but any other day it certainly could’ve ended up in the hands of a teammate.

— When the Colts’ offense started at the 2 1/2-yard line in what could’ve been two-point conversion practice at the end of Saturday’s session, the first defense out there was Houston and Hunt (defensive end), Stewart and Autry (defensive tackle); Desir, Moore II (slot) and Ya-Sin (cornerback); Okereke and Walker (linebacker) and Hooker and Willis (safety). The unit allowed a passing score to tight end Eric Ebron, but Hooker broke up the next pass attempt in a similar spot.

— Safety Derrick Kindred had a pick of quarterback Chad Kelly at the end of 7-on-7 work, but also credit Wilson with the heavy initial coverage on tight end Zach Conque. Wilson was able to knock the ball in the air, and Kindred was there to pluck it for the interception.

(via Andrew Walker/Colts.com)

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SPECIAL TEAMS

— The Colts mostly worked on kickoffs on Saturday. Those who first lined up on the kickoff coverage team included, left to right: Nate Hairston, George Odum, Zaire Franklin, Khari Willis, Zach Pascal, Rigoberto Sanchez, Chris Milton, E.J. Speed, Matthew Adams, Jordan Wilkins and Matthias Farley.

— Those who lined up second in kickoff coverage (left to right): Kenny Moore II, Rock Ya-Sin, Skai Moore, Derrick Kindred, Nyheim Hines, Rigoberto Sanchez, Marcus Johnson, Bobby Okereke, Carroll Phillips, Willis and Quincy Wilson.

(via Andrew Walker/Colts.com)

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