A Rundown Of Today's Happenings At Training Camp
AN EVENING WELL SPENT**
TERRE HAUTE – Colts fans screamed for Peyton Manning as he came off the field following yet another successful touchdown drive. Manning slapped fives and spoke with a few teammates on the sidelines before looking up into the stands, where fans were still going wild over his deep pass to Anthony Gonzalez in the end zone.
With a smile, Manning waved his right arm up-and-down, politely hushing the crowd.
After all, this was not the fourth quarter of a regular season game – this was an offensive drill during the third day of training camp.
Like years in the past, the atmosphere during the Colts' night practice was electric at the Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology. On Wednesday, about 3,300 fans packed the stands to watch the Colts put on the pads and go through their sixth practice of camp.
"The fans, the lights and everything just creates a great environment and atmosphere to come out and see where we are at," Colts tight end Dallas Clark said. "Guys get amped up a bit and play with that extra gear – it's a little different than waking up and playing in the morning."
The team began with individual drills and eventually worked their way up to live special teams action, a simulated two-minute drill and some 7-on-7. With the pads on for the second time in camp, the players said it felt good to be able to go out and play in front of fans with some intensity.
"It wasn't full out, but the (coaches) threw us a bone and we'll take that and run with it," defensive end Robert Mathis said.
As many of the players did, Mathis spent time after practice signing hundreds of autographs for fans who lined the field and stood there for hours hoping to catch a glance of their favorite players.
"They are just showing appreciation," Mathis said. "My way of showing appreciation is signing autographs. I might not be a highly-heralded guy, but they love me and I love them."
Mathis, a seven-year veteran, said he was impressed with the turnout Wednesday night and has always looked forward to the team's evening practices in front of the fans.
"The Colts have grown ever since Coach (Tony) Dungy got here," Mathis said. "This used to be a basketball town, but now people show us a lot more love and we appreciate it."
TIME TO GO TO WORK
For some, it is a cliché. But at Colts Training Camp, players and coaches really do eat, drink and sleep football.
A regular day tends to unfold something like this: breakfast, morning practice, lunch, meetings, afternoon practice, dinner, meetings, more meetings and sleep.
The schedule can be something of a reality check for young players, especially considering some are coming off their summer vacations.
But there are smiles all around camp as the Colts go to work. Rather than mind the schedule, the players are embracing it.
"You just take it in stride and when things start to get overwhelming, you just take a deep breath and you'll be alright," Colts rookie running back Donald Brown said.
Brown is one of several rookies getting acclimated to NFL life and trying to absorb as much information as possible over his three weeks in Terre Haute. And according to a few of the veterans, the team's new guys are doing a great job of just that.
"Everyone is responding well and we have great rookies who are following the veterans and we have veterans who are doing a great job of being leaders," Colts tight end Dallas Clark said.
Colts Head Coach Jim Caldwell said Wednesday night there is a lot of work left to do in camp, but he has been pleased with his team's overall improvement early on.
"Coach Caldwell is doing a great job of trying to keep our legs fresh and not putting too much on us," Colts defensive back Tim Jennings said. "Camp has been great. Over three days we've got a lot done."
As for Brown, he will continue to eat, drink and sleep football over the next three weeks and work towards "getting better everyday."
"I think we are making strides," the rookie said. "I'm just trying not to make the same mistake twice."
PLAY OF THE DAY
One-on-one drills give players a chance to stand out individually. On Wednesday night, defensive back Tim Jennings and wide receiver Reggie Wayne both had their moments of glory.
The drill had Peyton Manning throwing passes to his receivers, who were in single coverage. On one of the first plays, Jennings made an incredible jump on a ball down the sideline and snatched the ball before Wayne could make a play on it.
A few players later, the two squared off again. And this time, Wayne got revenge. Manning pump-faked, and despite tight coverage from Jennings, hit No. 87 on a deep fly route for the score.
"It gives us a chance to really focus in on a lot of the detail work that you might not get an opportunity to do at other times. We slow it down. It's almost like a meeting on the field, but still they can get their landmarks, they can still get all of the nuances in regards to each and every position. It gives (Special Teams Coach) Ray (Rychelski) an opportunity to kind of talk to them and spell it all out, show them where the ball is going to be. It is a great time period for us, but the real key is to be able to focus and concentrate, and I think they are doing a good job of that." – Colts Head Coach Jim Caldwell speaking on Thursday about the importance of special teams practices
QUOTE OF THE DAY
"I'll tell you what, with the veteran group we have – is Reggie doing something behind me? Of course he is … Reggie is a goofball is what it comes down to. He's the best." – Colts tight end Dallas Clark talking about Reggie Wayne, who snuck up on Clark in the middle of a TV interview
Coming off last night's practice, the Colts held a special teams practice at 3:30 p.m. Thursday. On Friday, the team will meet on the practice field twice, once at 9:30 a.m. and a second time at 3:30 p.m.
Blue skies and sunshine were abundant in Terre Haute on Thursday. The high was 82 degrees, according to weather.com. On Friday, the weather should be more of the same with the forecast calling for partly cloudy skies and a high of 83.