A Rundown Of Today's Happenings At Training Camp
HELLO, OLD FRIEND
TERRE HAUTE – A familiar face returned to the Colts on Tuesday.
That face belonged to defensive end Josh Thomas.
Thomas had not been away from the Colts for long. In fact, he played the past five seasons with the team after originally signing with them out of Syracuse as an undrafted free agent in 2004.
On Monday, Thomas received a call from the Colts front office and on Tuesday he was at the Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology making his 2009 training camp debut.
According to Thomas, the phone call was short, but sweet.
"They asked, 'Do you want to play for the Colts?' I said, 'Sure,'" Thomas said. "I didn't even have to think about it."
Over the years, Thomas established himself as a reliable role player on the Colts' defensive line and saw increased playing time in each of his five seasons, including 10 starts at defensive end over the past two years.
Thomas did not re-sign with the Colts this past offseason, but spent the summer staying in shape, preparing for his sixth NFL season.
Thomas practiced with the Colts on Tuesday wearing a different jersey number (fans will remember him as No. 91, but he now wears No. 60), but not much else about the player and his team has changed.
Thomas said he is in camp to compete for a job, one that he is very familiar with.
"If I get the job, I'll have the same role," Thomas said. "I've been doing this for five years, and it's kind of what I am, and that's cool with me."
Thomas said he felt like he fit right in on his first day back, but will need a day or two to get back into football shape before playing in Thursday's game against Philadelphia.
"Your feet are a little heavy, you're gasping before everybody else, but it's like riding a bike," he said. "It's different than years past because of the defense, so you have to learn a little more. But as far as what it takes to get it done, it is the same stuff."
Head Coach Jim Caldwell said he was happy to have Thomas back with the team, adding the defensive end "has always been a solid performer for us."
"He's a guy who is versatile and has a real good sense of what we do from a defensive standpoint," Caldwell said. "It won't take him very long to get up to speed in what we are doing, and he's kept himself in great shape as well. The big thing is he's a high-energy, high-effort type of guy who has been able to help us over the years."
Now, Thomas hopes he will be able to help the Colts into the future.
"It feels great," he said. "I didn't want to go anywhere else, so it was nice to get that phone call."
DALLAS BACK IN PRACTICE
Thomas was not the only one back on the practice field on Tuesday.
Tight end Dallas Clark worked out with the team in full for the first time in a week after suffering a minor concussion last Saturday during the team's mock game.
"It's tough being out," Clark said after his first practice back. "Especially during camp (or) anytime really. Watching everyone work and get better is not a fun thing. But it was great to be out there (today), and I had a lot of fun."
Clark looked sharp in Tuesday morning's practice, catching everything thrown his way and not shying away from contact.
"He's been doing well," Caldwell said. "He was out practicing this morning and looked good."
As happy as he is to be back on the practice field, Clark indicated he is looking forward even more to playing in his first preseason game of the year and gelling with some of his new teammates.
"You can do a lot in practices, but you don't really get a good feel until you're out there in the games," he said.
On Tuesday, the Colts signed DE-Josh Thomas, who played the past five seasons for the team, and released RB-Walter Mendenhall.
PLAY OF THE DAY
Forty yards away from the end zone, Peyton Manning aired out balls to his receivers running routes deep into the red zone. The drill pitted receivers one-on-one against defensive backs, with the wide outs usually holding the advantage.
The play of the day came when wide receiver Reggie Wayne went against defensive back Nick Graham. Having connected on 52 career regular season touchdowns, the most of any active QB-WR duo in the NFL, Wayne and Manning held a bit of an edge over the third-year cornerback.
And it showed. Wayne ran downfield, hesitated and turned towards Manning, and then resumed his full-out dash towards the end zone. Manning lobbed a ball high into the air as Wayne and Graham positioned themselves for the jump ball. The two leaped at the same time, but Wayne towered over Graham and pulled down the reception with two hands near the goal line.
"I haven't gotten that indication yet. Typically, you can tell, you get that kind of lull, but I think this atmosphere has been productive for us and conducive to winning. The guys believe this is the right thing to do, and when it's time to go, we'll go and move our operation back to headquarters. But this has been a good camp so far." – Head Coach Jim Caldwell on if he senses his players are ready to break camp
QUOTE OF THE DAY
"Hopefully, somebody got a good picture and sends that to (Rick) DeMulling. He's a great one. He helped us win a lot of games around here. (Ryan) Diem, guess his jersey got misplaced in the one-day practice at Indianapolis in the transition. That was a nice selection by him though going 64." – Quarterback Peyton Manning on OL-Ryan Diem wearing No. 64 (former Colt Rick DeMulling's number) instead of his usual No. 71 on Tuesday
The Colts held their final two-a-day practices on Tuesday. At 8:30 a.m. this morning, the team worked out in shorts for two hours. After team and position meetings in the afternoon, the Colts will hold their second-to-last practice of training camp, a two-hour session under the lights at Cook Field at 7:30 p.m.
On Tuesday, partly cloudy skies and cooler temperatures arrived in Terre Haute with the high expected to reach 80 degrees, according to weather.com. On Wednesday, the forecast calls for a high of 83 and a chance of isolated thunderstorms.