INDIANAPOLIS – The Colts welcomed the Bears to the Indiana Farm Bureau Football Center on Wednesday afternoon for a two-hour practice, in an ideal weather environment.
Colts.com split up on Wednesday with myself heading to the normally used soccer fields next to the team complex (they were maintained and painted to be a football field for these practices) to watch the Colts defense drill against the Bears offense (Steve Andress watched the Colts offense).
What were my takeaways from the Colts defense?
- While it can be hard to determine a "winner" and a "loser" following practice, Bears quarterback Jay Cutler did the deciding himself. "They got after us. They won the day," Cutler said of the Colts following the two-hour practice.
Cutler mentioned a quick Colts defensive front (compared to the Bears front) as an area that gave the Bears offense some trouble. The Colts didn't force any turnovers during team drills on Wednesday but forced numerous throw aways and incomplete passes, with Owner Jim Irsay watching nearby.
- Part of the reason the Colts "won" Wednesday came thanks to the return of cornerback Vontae Davis. Back from a groin injury, Davis took part in the early portion of team drills.
A pass deflection in 11-on-11 drills marked the highlight for Davis getting back to work. Colts fans know very well what a difference Davis makes to the defense, versus when he's off the field. It should be noted the Bears were missing their top two wide receivers on Wednesday (Alshon Jeffery and Kevin White).
- There weren't a ton of big plays (on either side of the ball) from the Bears offense/Colts defense field on Wednesday so, with that, my third takeaway goes to the trenches.
Fifth-round pick David Parry received several reps with the first-team defense up front. Those reps are deserving after the day Parry had on Sunday in the preseason opener (four tackles). The value of these practices was evident when you got to see Parry hold his own against Bears Pro Bowl offensive guard Kyle Long.
OTHER PRACTICE MUSINGS
-The focus for these practices with the Bears will come in situational areas (third-down, red-zone, two-minute). That was the case on Wednesday with both fields following the same practice script. I can't recall many pass attempts from Cutler traveling more than 10 yards.
-Henry Anderson and Trent Cole both made several plays in 9-on-7 drills and in team settings as well. These two newcomers will obviously factor in quite largely in the Colts trying to improve their consistentcy in the run defense department.
-It was fun watching Bears running back Matt Forte run on Wednesday. It's a graceful style that seems so fluid. Forte had some very nice things to say about Frank Gore following practice. The two train together each offseason.
-With the Bears offense on the field I was watching, Chicago head coach John Fox oversaw things (Chuck Pagano and him plan on flipping fields for tomorrow's practice). A difference between the Bears and Colts practices comes from the music Chicago plays throughout their practices (plenty of rap/hip hop from the speakers on Wednesday).
-Robert Mathis was observing Wednesday's practice and had a nice chat with former Colts cornerback Tim Jennings. From 2006-2009, Jennings played with the Colts and has been with the Bears ever since. Jennings was a second-round pick of the Colts back in 2006.
-Credit the coaching staffs for not letting anything escalate from a fight standpoint. On the field I was watching, nothing "fight" noteworthy happened (players were shaking hands with each other after drills) and that's largely due to what Chuck Pagano and John Fox told their teams leading up to Wednesday. This has obviously been an issue in joint practices around the NFL lately. The head coaches and players deserve a pat on the back for keeping things competitive, not combative, on Wednesday.INJURY REPORT/ROSTER MOVES
-The following players did not participate on Wednesday: Robert Mathis, Donald Thomas, Nate Irving (participated in the individual period only), Boom Herron (groin), Donald Celiscar, D'Joun Smith (walk-through only for him as he undergoes the concussion protocol) and Daniel Adongo (quad).
Bears head coach John Fox on how if he views this work with the Colts as a measuring stick:
"I think so, we played them a year ago and lost to them in the playoffs. I pretty much know their roster and what they are capable of. I haven't even seen this side of the ball yet because I was on another field but they are a good football team."
PLAYER QUOTE OF THE DAY
Bears Pro Bowl running back Matt Forte on Frank Gore (the two train together in the offseason):
"A great player, a guy who's been doing it a long time. Frank's not a guy where you have to come out and stay on him to do stuff. He's going to be a hard worker. He's a very gifted running back with his vision and he's quick, so if the hole's there, he's going to find it. They're getting a solid player who's going to be productive, knows how to take care of his body as well. It shows a lot that he's been playing this long.
"I always talk about with Frank is he's got a low center of gravity, but he's still got that low pad level so he can run over you. He's also shifty, so Frank's got a low center of gravity which helps him out breaking tackles. He's got great vision when he hits the hole. In a running back when you look at scouting him, you want a guy who has great pad level and good vision."
TWEETS OF THE DAY