INDIANAPOLIS — Watch any Indianapolis Colts practice, and you'll notice it typically starts with the team's quarterbacks and centers working on one of the more simple aspects of the game: snapping the ball.
And while the drill might not look like much, its intent — getting multiple QBs and centers exposure to their various styles of snaps, cadences and pass protection calls — is as important as any other drill done throughout the rest of the session.
For the Indianapolis Colts, that work will go into action on Sunday, when the team opens up its 2017 preseason schedule against the Detroit Lions at Lucas Oil Stadium. Ryan Kelly, the team's 2016 first-round pick and second-year starter at center, will not play after suffering a foot injury during Thursday's training camp practice, and with veteran backup Brian Schwenke also on the PUP list with a right leg injury, that leaves center duties primarily up to rookie Deyshawn Bond and first-year lineman Adam Redmond.
"Next man up," head coach Chuck Pagano told reporters after Friday's practice. "It's always been that way. So now Bond and Redmond and whoever — it's next man up."
The hope for the Colts is that Kelly's absence won't be long — he's expected to miss "maybe a week or two," and Kelly's initial evaluation was "a lot better than we anticipated," Pagano told the Colts' Bob Lamey on Friday — but in the meantime, the team is confident that Bond and Redmond will take advantage of the opportunity presented to them.
Bond was a standout center/guard at the University of Cincinnati, where he played in 48 games with 47 starts from 2013 through 2016. A Freshman All-America second-team selection his first year in college ball, Bond would be named an All-American Athletic Conference second-team choice his junior year, and was responsible up front for protecting one of the more potent offenses in college football.
After going undrafted, Bond was signed by the Colts on May 3, and it didn't take long for those around him to notice his work ethic.
"Deyshawn does stick out in my mind as a guy that was always here and always getting better," Scott Tolzien, who will start Sunday's game at quarterback for the Colts, said of Bond. "You can tell when someone has purposeful, intentional work, and Deyshawn's one of those guys, and it gives you confidence and you're excited for his opportunity because you feel like he's earned that right to have this opportunity. I'm excited for him because he's put the work in."
Redmond, meanwhile, is another youngster hoping to make his mark at center on Sunday. He's a Harvard product, where he played in 31 games and was named to the All-Ivy League first team his senior year in 2015, and was named All-Ivy eagle honorable mention the year before.
The Colts signed Redmond last offseason as an undrafted free agent, and he spent most of the season on the team's practice squad before being signed to a reserve/future contract on Jan. 2.
Tolzien has high hopes that the work with Bond and Redmond — and whoever else might be snapping the ball — will pay off on Sunday, and moving forward.
"There's a lot of work that needs to be put in, both physically and also mentally with checks and being on the same page at the line of scrimmage," he said. "So it is a process, and that's why we go through a QB-center exchange period every day, and it's probably really boring to watch but it's very important for us to get used to everybody's snaps, and they can hear difference cadences from myself to Phillip (Walker) and Stephen (Morris), and just to be able to talk to one another."
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