WESTFIELD, Ind. — Today was Day 9 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:
— The Colts were back in pads Sunday after a helmets-and-shells practice on Saturday. Those who were not seen participating today included wide receiver Penny Hart (hamstring), quarterback Andrew Luck (calf), wide receiver Parris Campbell (hamstring), cornerback Kenny Moore II (maintenance day off), safety Clayton Geathers (maintenance day off), tight end Ross Travis (injury not disclosed), defensive tackle Jihad Ward (injury not disclosed), linebacker Ben Banogu (hamstring), linebacker Darius Leonard (injury not disclosed), center Ryan Kelly (shoulder), tight end Jack Doyle (oblique), defensive end Jabaal Sheard (knee), defensive tackle/end Denico Autry (maintenance day off) and defensive end Justin Houston (maintenance day off).
— Running back Jonathan Williams, wide receiver Devin Funchess and center Josh Andrews each received attention from team trainers during Sunday’s practice. While their injuries and immediate statuses are unknown, head coach Frank Reich is next scheduled to speak to reporters on Monday.
— The offense and defense split “victories” in the one-on-one drills pitting pass catchers against defensive backs, with each side getting 15 wins (a win for the offense is a catch or a penalty on the defense; a win for the defense is the exact opposite). Here’s how the reps shook out: Zach Pascal def. Pierre Desir; Quincy Wilson def. Marcus Johnson; Steve Ishmael def. Nate Hairston; Mo Alie-Cox def. Malik Hooker; Jordan Veasy def. Chris Milton; Chester Rogers def. Jalen Collins; Daurice Fountain def. Desir; Hale Hentges def. Matthias Farley; Ashton Dulin def. Rock Ya-Sin; Khari Willis def. Gabe Holmes; Marvell Tell III def. Roger Lewis; Krishawn Hogan def. Hairston (using a nifty double move); Rolan Milligan def. Alie-Cox; Rogers def. Collins; Johnson def. Shakial Taylor; Isaiah Johnson def. Zach Conque; Wilson def. Veasy; Desir def. Pascal; Hentges def. Farley; Hairston def. Ishmael; Milton def. Roger Lewis; Fountain def. Collins; Ya-Sin def. Johnson; George Odum def. Hogan; Wilson def. Dulin; Rogers def. Hairston; Milton def. Veasy; Derrick Kindred def. Holmes; Lewis def. Ya-Sin; Desir def. Ishmael.
— Perhaps the play of the day Sunday came from Bradley Powers, who helps the team out on the sidelines during practices. Quarterback Jacoby Brissett took a snap and couldn’t find anyone open as he rolled out, so he threw away a pass to the right sideline. Powers, who was already holding one football in his left hand, leapt up and snagged the Brissett pass with his right hand, sending the crowd behind him into a frenzy.
— Running backs coach Tom Rathman will never not be a stickler on the details, and that’s evident with each drill he has his players do. One of the more popular drills for the fans nearby is one in which the backs get low and drive their shoulder into a sled, push it back and, while remaining low, spin off. Rathman didn’t like what he was seeing the first few turns, repeating the need for his guys to stay low and run behind their pads … until Jonathan Williams stepped up. Williams powered into the sled with great leverage, producing a different-sounding “pop” noise. “Everybody see it? That’s what it sounds like!” Rathman told his other backs.
— With Ryan Kelly (shoulder) out for a second straight day on Sunday, the team once again utilized Josh Andrews as its first-team center. Andrews also seemed to get banged up late in practice, and he would be replaced by Jake Eldrenkamp. The rest of the usual starting offensive line — left tackle Anthony Castonzo, left guard Quenton Nelson, right guard Mark Glowinski and right tackle Braden Smith — remained.
— The 11-on-11s on Sunday started with the offense backed up to its own goal line. These are usually prime running situations, but the team did show off a three tight end set in this scenario, lining up Eric Ebron in the slot to the left, Hale Hentges out wide to the right and Mo Alie-Cox along the right edge of the offensive line. In other words: expect the unexpected with Frank Reich and his love of tight ends.
— Speaking of Hentges, he made two nice grabs in one-on-one drills against safety Matthias Farley, both of which required a ton of concentration to haul in. The undrafted rookie out of Alabama continues to shine with the opportunities he does get.
— Daurice Fountain has put together a solid last week or so, which continued on Sunday. First, he logged 25 yards on an on-target throw from Brissett, who was able to use the play to get the offense out of the shadow of its own goal post. After trying to draw the defense offsides with multiple hard counts, Brissett found Fountain with the out route. Fountain — who also snagged about a 30-yard reception from Chad Kelly later in 11-on-11s — is making a nice push heading into the team’s first preseason game against the Buffalo Bills on Thursday.
— The unquestioned star of Sunday’s practice was wide receiver T.Y. Hilton. It seems like everything Hilton does at camp is spectacular, and he had a couple more doozies today. First, Brissett found Hilton on a fly route for what could’ve possibly been a very nice 69-yard touchdown play (there’s a chance cornerback Quincy Wilson, who was in coverage, would’ve taken him down near the goal line). Then, a little while later, Brissett found Hilton over the top for a 25-yard touchdown; No. 13 was draped in coverage by cornerback Pierre Desir but still was able to run the fade pattern perfectly and somehow find the ball and come down with the catch.
— A second-unit offensive line seen Sunday included J’Marcus Webb at left tackle, Evan Boehm at left guard, Eldrenkamp at center, Joe Haeg at right guard and Le’Raven Clark at right tackle. A third-unit line included Antonio Garcia at left tackle, Daniel Munyer at left guard, Haeg at center (splitting reps with Eldrenkamp), Ian Silberman at right guard and Jackson Barton at right tackle.
— In 7-on-7 work, Brissett completed 4-of-6 passes, connecting with Marlon Mack, Chester Rogers, Deon Cain (for about 40 yards on a fly route) and Hilton.
— Phillip Walker was 4-of-5 in 7-on-7 work, completing passes to Nyheim Hines (twice), Alie-Cox and Cain. He was also intercepted once by Rolan Milligan.
— Chad Kelly was 3-of-4 in 7-on-7s, connecting with Jordan Wilkins, Ashton Dulin and Steve Ishmael.
(via Andrew Walker/Colts.com)
— The first-team defense opened up 11-on-11 drills in their base defense, featuring: Al-Quadin Muhammad (LDE), Margus Hunt (NT), Tyquan Lewis (DT), Kemoko Turay (RDE), Bobby Okereke (LB), Anthony Walker (LB), E.J. Speed (LB), Pierre Desir (LCB), Quincy Wilson (RCB), Malik Hooker (FS) and Khari Willis (SS).
— The team's first-team nickel package featured: Al-Quadin Muhammad (LDE), Margus Hunt (NT), Tyquan Lewis (DT), Kemoko Turay (RDE), Bobby Okereke (LB), Anthony Walker (LB), Pierre Desir (LCB), Quincy Wilson (RCB), Nate Hairston (nickel CB), Malik Hooker (FS) and Khari Willis (SS).
— The team's first-team dime defense featured: Al-Quadin Muhammad (LDE), Margus Hunt (NT), Tyquan Lewis (DT), Kemoko Turay (RDE), Bobby Okereke (LB), Pierre Desir (LCB), Rock Ya-Sin (RCB), Quincy Wilson (upback), Nate Hairston (upback), Malik Hooker (FS) and Khari Willis (SS).
— Rather than designate linebackers as MIKE, WILL and SAM, we're listing them just as LBs today, as there were several players switching back and forth between two or three of the spots throughout the 11-on-11s.
— Sunday brought even more important first-team reps for rookie defenders Bobby Okereke (MIKE/WILL), E.J. Speed (SAM), Khari Willis (SS) and Rock Ya-Sin (RCB). These guys appear to be getting a legitimate shot at earning roles in the defense. They may not be depended upon to perform immediately like last year's rookies, but they're already impressing enough to earn those snaps.
— Right away in the first 11-on-11 session, Turay fired into the backfield, and as Jacoby Brissett rifled off his pass, Turay swatted the ball. In general, the defensive line did a good job of getting its hands into passing lanes, swatting down at least a few passes at the line of scrimmage. This led to a couple of near-interceptions.
— With the pads back on today, the defense decided to crank up the physicality. Early in 11-on-11s, nose tackle Grover Stewart came through on a run play and shoulder-charged Jonathan Williams, knocking him to the ground and forcing a fumble which was picked up by cornerback Jalen Collins. Williams was evaluated by team trainers after the play.
— That wasn't the only standout effort made by either Stewart or Collins on the day. Shortly after, quarterback Phillip Walker threw a pass about 15 yards toward the left sideline, and Collins laid out for it and broke up the pass. Not long after, Stewart powered through the trenches to sack quarterback Chad Kelly for a would-be safety.
— Defensive end Carroll Phillips was very active today. I first noted his presence during positional pass-rushing drills, and then he came up with a couple of would-be sacks later on in 11-on-11s, just a few plays apart.
— On one of the positional drills, defensive backs and linebackers joined forces as they backpedaled roughly 10 yards and then shot forward toward a hypothetical target. This drill practices the ability to stay with your man in coverage and immediately drive to the ball when thrown.
— Shortly after the previous drill, the cornerbacks continued working on this in greater detail. The drill would start with the cornerback hitting (with both hands) a simulated receiver in press coverage. Defensive backs/cornerbacks coach Jonathan Gannon instructed, "Hit him before he's ready to be hit." They had markers 15 and 20 yards downfield, angled toward the sidelines that the corners had to backpedal/shuffle toward, while keeping their eyes forward, and then fire forward when they hit the marker. At the top of the backpedal before making their cut forward, Gannon would continually shout to the corners, "Tighten it up!"
(via Jake Arthur/Colts.com)
— Kicker Adam Vinatieri, punter Rigoberto Sanchez and long snapper Luke Rhodes were among the first players out on the field for Sunday’s practice. The crowd gave the trio a rousing ovation, but the future Hall of Famer Vinatieri was mostly the subject of their affection. “O.G.!” shouted one fan. In an act of modesty, Vinatieri decided to point out Rhodes and Sanchez instead.
— There was quite a bit of special teams action that took place today, with Vinatieri being the main attraction. He connected on 3-of-5 field goal attempts, converting from 28, 39 and 53 yards and missing from 28 (hit the uprights) and 48 (wide left).
— Also kicking today was rookie Cole Hedlund, who went 3-of-4. He converted from 33, 41 and 47 yards, and missed wide right from 52 yards out.
— Special teams also worked on punts today. Seeing action at gunner were Ashton Dulin, Krishawn Hogan, Shakial Taylor, Marvell Tell III, Reece Fountain, Roger Lewis, Chris Milton, George Odum, Marcus Johnson, Nate Hairston, Rock Ya-Sin, Matthias Farley. The punt protectors were Rolan Milligan, Jordan Wilkins, Khari Willis, Nyheim Hines, and the returns were Chester Rogers, Nyheim Hines, Zach Pascal.
(via Jake Arthur/Colts.com)