A Rundown of Today's Happenings at Training Camp
TURNING IT UP A NOTCH
TERRE HAUTE – One of the most recognizable sounds in football – on the same level as a referee's whistle and a quarterback's bark for an audible – was back at Colts Training Camp on Tuesday.
The sound in reference was the crack of football players colliding with one another, as the Colts practiced in full pads for the first time Tuesday morning.
"We got some valuable time in terms of contact in individual drills and also special teams," Colts Head Coach Jim Caldwell said. "We learned a little bit more about (the players) and trying to get ourselves in game conditioning."
Like every NFL team, preventing injuries during training camp is a top concern, if not the main one, which is why the team tries to avoid delivering full-out hits during these early practices.
"It's a fine line," Caldwell said.
In most camp drills Tuesday, defenders made contact with ball carriers without bringing them to the ground. Instead, the defense tried to wrap them up and halt their forward progress. Often times, as Caldwell noted, collisions cannot be avoided and that familiar crack resonates across the field.
The Colts coach said he prefers not to whistle plays dead immediately because he wants his players to "run it out so we can work on our pursuit."
He added that he was pleased with the team's morning practice (the afternoon featured a special teams practice) and the fact that the Colts were able to get in full pads for the first time without delivering too many serious licks.
"A guy might anticipate someone is stepping in a little different direction so you'll sometimes get a pretty heavy collision," Caldwell said, "And that can't be avoided…but for the most part we try and make certain (our players) get in position to make the big hits but not necessarily have to deliver them all the time."
A DEFENSIVE STATE OF MIND
Several Colts players have described their team's new defensive coordinator, Larry Coyer, as "old school."
That may be true – as Coyer is entering his 45th year of coaching on the collegiate or professional level – but there is nothing elderly about the coordinator's defensive scheme.
Coyer spent the past two seasons in Tampa Bay and served as the team's assistant head coach in 2008. But this offseason Caldwell brought Coyer to Indianapolis hoping to improve the team's defense, particularly the Colts' ability to stop the run. But do not expect to see a completely different defense, Caldwell said.
"I'm not certain you are going to see a marked difference in terms of our alignments and personnel," he said.
The coach said the team has always preached rushing the passer and having several defenders run to the ball. And as always, Caldwell said, speed will be a big factor of the team's strategy.
"It's a core value that we certainly want to maintain," he said.
Two days into training camp, the Colts players are already starting to get a better feel for Coyer's defense.
"Its not too much of a change," Colts safety Antoine Bethea said, "but a little tweak here and there."
Bethea said the new defense will keep opponents on their toes and the Colts will offer something "teams haven't seen in the past."
"With this new defense you really don't know what you're going to get from us," Bethea said.
But the results will not come without hard work. Bethea said Colts players have had to work overtime this summer.
"Before, you could probably leave a meeting, go to your room, lay down and go to sleep," he explained. "But now you have to get that extra 30 minutes or hour to get in your playbook. Or get up early if you need to and get with a coach to iron out all the things that are unclear to you. Overall it's going to make you more aware of all the things you need to do out there."
Colts linebacker Gary Brackett said the play-calling will be similar, but with a new coordinator comes "a little different terminology."
Brackett, the defensive team captain, said players are turning to him and other team leaders for help learning the new schemes.
"Guys have to step up," he said. "Everybody has to be on the same page."
PLAY OF THE DAY
When you are going against Peyton Manning in practice, you are not going to get a lot of chances to showcase yourself as a defensive player. But Colts safety Melvin Bullitt took advantage of one of those rare opportunities.
The play began with Manning stepping back in the pocket and locking onto tight end Dallas Clark, who was streaking over the middle. Manning fired a pass, but Bullitt was in perfect position and soared into the air to pull down the interception. Bullitt even ran the pick back a couple of yards before coaches whistled the play dead.
"Well, it is a pretty strong and heated competition. We are looking for the one guy who certainly distinguishes himself consistently, that's a key. And that group of guys are doing a great job right now." – Colts Head Coach Jim Caldwell on the battle for the team's third wide receiver position
QUOTE OF THE DAY
"The coaches are going to lean on the players, the players are going to lean on the coaches, it's one big family out there. You can't just put it on the coaches and the players can't just put it on the coaches, we're just one big family and we are going to depend on one another to get it done." – Colts safety Antoine Bethea on the team learning a new defense
The Colts had their first practice in full pads Tuesday morning (8:30 a.m.) followed by a special teams practice at 3:30 p.m. On Wednesday, the team will practice at 9:30 a.m. and 7:30 p.m.
Storms hit Terre Haute on Tuesday after the morning practice. The high was 83 degrees, according to weather.com. Severe thunderstorms hit the Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology in the afternoon, but the Colts were still able to hold their special teams practice outdoors.