A Rundown Of Today's Happenings At Training Camp
TERRE HAUTE – The game might have been, but not all was lost during the Colts' preseason opener.
While the scoreboard always is his top concern, Head Coach Jim Caldwell said he was able to take away several positives from the team's disappointing loss to the Minnesota Vikings on Friday.
"I could go down the line and name 30-40 guys that did a pretty nice job," Caldwell said. "Sometimes (performance) doesn't show up that way in the box score, but overall, we had a lot of guys who played pretty well."
Unlike the regular season, when coaches are consumed with the team's week-to-week grind, Caldwell said the preseason gives coaches an opportunity to better evaluate an individual player's performance.
"When we looked at (individual) performance, we felt we had a number of good performances," Caldwell said. "But overall, the feeling (from Friday's game) wasn't good in terms of where we are and how we played."
Caldwell said some of his younger players showed their inexperience Friday.
"We saw some guys, who are fairly young, in their first time out that didn't perform out of the blocks extremely well," Caldwell said. "But as time went on, they settled down and were able to come together and perform decently. Not at the level we like. We had a few spurts here and there, (but) we were not consistent enough."
Among the positives from the game, Caldwell singled out punter Pat McAfee, who averaged 49.9 yards on seven punts, and said the rookie "hit the ball well under pressure, which was his first time in that situation."
In addition to McAfee, the Colts coach was pleased with another aspect of the team's special teams unit.
"We had a number of guys in our coverage unit, particularly in our punt coverage, running down the field and making plays," he said.
Linebacker Gary Brackett, the team's defensive captain, said that after watching the game film, the loss was not as bad as it might have seemed.
"I think there are a lot of positives to take away. Some guys had real good performances," Brackett said. I think (Jacob) Lacey did a great job. The safeties played almost a full game and those guys hung in there and they fought well. Some of the things we can clean up … I think a lot of (our problems) are really just coaching film. You can coach on it and we can get better come Thursday."
Like Caldwell and Brackett, defensive end Dwight Freeney said he was disappointed the Colts did not get the victory last Friday, but knows there are bigger concerns than winning and losing at this point in the season.
"It would be great (to win), but that is not the most important part," Freeney said. "We want to make sure guys get a feel of how it is during the game and that type of style."
NEXT IN LINE, PLEASE
When injuries strike, the Colts do not panic.
Credit the cool demeanor to the team's "Next Man Up" theory. If a Colts player goes down, the player behind him steps up and fills in. If that player goes down, then the next player is called upon, and so forth.
"Whoever shows up, we coach them hard and get them ready," Caldwell said. "We'll have a cohesive group that will be ready to go when it is time to kick it off (Thursday)."
Most of the team's minor injuries suffered in training camp have struck the defensive side of the ball. On Monday, Caldwell announced that veteran defensive tackle Raheem Brock would be sidelined for the immediate future with an injured hand.
"Raheem is going to have to have surgery, so he is going to be about 2-4 weeks, but we anticipate he'll be back for the first game of the year," Caldwell said.
With Brock out, the Colts will turn to another defensive lineman and expect him to pick up where the eight-year veteran left off.
Freeney said it can be tough for a defense to gel when key players are getting injured, but nonetheless he expects Brock's replacement to "step up and go out there and make plays."
"You have to go out there and be troops together and go out there with the pieces you have," Freeney said.
Brackett said that while everyone benefits from the team's practices, the older players are familiar with how the Colts do things and will be ready once the regular season rolls around, even if they have had to sit out a practice two.
"(The injuries) gives the opportunity for some of the young guys to step in and get some quality reps with the one-unit while it's going fast," Brackett said. "You can't take that away."
"Later in the season, if the same thing happens – guys go down and we need those guys to step up – it's good for them to get those reps in right now."
On Monday, the Colts waived offensive lineman Brandon Barnes and signed defensive tackle John Gill.
Gill (6'3", 302 pounds) practiced with the Colts on Monday. At Northwestern, Gill started 42 of 48 career games and ranks ninth on the school's all-time sacks list.
PLAY OF THE DAY
Rookie defensive back Jerraud Powers has a knack for appearing in the "Play of the Day" section.
And we can now add Monday's practice to his growing highlight reel.
With the ball spotted on the 36-yard line during Monday's 7-on-7 drills, Powers made an alert play on a short pass thrown towards the sideline.
The ball was intended for tight end Jamie Petrowski about eight yards down the field. But the pass was thrown too hard and zipped through the tight end's hands. Powers, who had been in pursuit while the ball was in the air, quickly snatched the deflected pass. Barely breaking stride, the rookie raced down the sideline, with the ball in tow and the end zone in sight, before a coach's whistle blew the play dead.
"I like training camp, to be honest. I like the captive audience. I like the opportunity to spend a lot of time honing our craft, so I don't mind it at all. But all good things come to an end. I'm not sure the players feel that way, but we'll be headed out of here on Wednesday and continue to focus on getting a little bit better." – Head Coach Jim Caldwell on if he is looking forward to training camp ending
QUOTE OF THE DAY
"No. When you're on the field, you zone everything out and you just focus on the moment." – Colts running back Donald Brown on whether he could hear the fans during Friday's contest
The Colts practiced in full pads for two hours Monday morning (8:30 a.m.) before returning to the gridiron for an offensive and defensive walkthrough at 3:30 p.m. On Tuesday, the team will hold their final two-a-day practices of training camp. In the morning, the Colts will practice in shorts at 8:30 a.m. and in the evening the team will workout inside Cook Stadium at 7:30 p.m.
Monday was warm and humid in Terre Haute with a high of 85 degrees, according to weather.com. Tuesday's forecast calls for scattered thunderstorms with temperatures peaking at 81.