INDIANAPOLIS — It’s one last hurrah before a little break.
Then the madness really begins.
The Indianapolis Colts this week are holding their mandatory veteran minicamp at the Indiana Farm Bureau Football Center, where the team is scheduled to have three days of practices on Tuesday through Thursday before getting about a month and a half off to recharge the batteries prior to the start of training camp.
Veteran minicamp helps get the players ready for the grind of training camp. They reported today for physicals and are allowed two on-field sessions per day from Tuesday through Thursday; one session can be a practice, while the other can be a walkthrough.
The rest of the days are spent in the weight room and in meetings with coaches.
The primary difference between minicamp and training camp, however, is that just like OTAs, players will not be wearing shoulder pads — only helmets and protective knee and elbow pads are permitted — and no live contact is allowed.
Last week, the Colts wrapped up their 10th and final 2019 OTA session, which provided a blueprint into what to expect heading into head coach Frank Reich’s second season.
So what are some of the key storylines to keep an eye on heading into this week’s minicamp?
» Position battles: Minicamp stands as the last chance for players to make a good impression on the coaching staff heading into training camp. Accordingly, it would be no surprise if the competition at various position groups really begins to heat up this week. And because of various injury situations, several players have been receiving added reps at their respective positions all throughout the offseason program, which could continue this week. As of now, the more notable position battles are happening at wide receiver on offense; at linebacker, cornerback and safety on defense; and don’t forget about the kick and punt returner spots on special teams.
» Luck’s availability: Quarterback Andrew Luck suffered a calf injury during Phase 1 of the offseason workout program, and he’s been held out of all on-field activities since that point as a precaution. Reich said last week he was hoping to get Luck back on the field for this week’s minicamp, but he also added that he wasn’t going to sweat it if, by chance, Luck isn’t cleared to participate over the next few days. “I had a conversation with him the other day before this week when we made the decision (to hold him out last week),” Reich told reporters. “So just playing it out, he and I sat there and said, ‘If this plays out that we don’t take a snap, it’s OK.’ It’s not earth shattering, it’s not a big news story as far as what we’re doing as a team and what we’re doing offensively.” Should Luck be held out at all this week, the team will continue to turn to Jacoby Brissett for its first-team work; Brissett had an especially strong performance in last Tuesday’s practice that was open to the media.
» Other injuries: Several other Colts players were held out of various OTA practices due to their respective injuries and recovery timelines, many of whom, Reich said, were being kept off the field merely as a precaution. Those players included Luck, wide receiver Penny Hart, wide receiver Deon Cain, wide receiver T.Y. Hilton, wide receiver Parris Campbell, safety Clayton Geathers, cornerback Rock Ya-Sin, safety Rolan Milligan, tight end Ross Travis, defensive tackle Jihad Ward, linebacker Darius Leonard, linebacker Skai Moore, defensive end Kemoko Turay, tight end Jack Doyle, tight end Eric Ebron defensive end Jabaal Sheard, safety Matthias Farley, linebacker Matthew Adams, defensive end Jegs Jegede and cornerback Chris Milton. Of those players, Cain (knee), Travis (knee), Leonard (ankle), Doyle (hip), Ebron (groin) and Geathers (knee) are likely expected to make their returns during training camp as they work their way back from respective procedures.
» Rookie development: It’s been about 40 days since the start of rookie minicamp, the point at which every first-year player starts to get acclimated to life as an NFL player. Like every year, some rookies learn — and apply what they’ve learned — at different paces. We saw several different rookies begin to make their mark on the field during OTAs, so who will take another step forward this week in minicamp? And this notion goes beyond the Colts’ 2019 NFL Draft class; undoubtedly each year about this time an undrafted rookie really starts to rise above the rest to ultimately make the Week 1 roster. Who will be that player — or those players — this time around? It’ll be exciting to keep track this week.