Once again the Colts opened up the morning practice with some special teams drills before they broke down into position groups. Kicker Adam Vinateri made all five of his field goals attempts along with a point after try.
As the team divided up into its position groups, a welcoming sight joined the defensive backs in cornerback Kevin Thomas. The Colts 2010 third-round pick missed the entire season last year with a knee injury and has been nursing a quad injury throughout the early part of training camp.
The offensive line's first unit during Monday's practice included Jeff Linkenbach at left tackle, Joe Reitz at left guard, Jeff Saturday at center, Mike Pollak at right guard and Ryan Diem at right tackle.
With Dwight Freeney sitting out the morning practice, newly-acquired Jamaal Anderson ran with the first team along the defensive line. To Anderson's right were defensive tackles Fili Moala and Antonio Johnson with Robert Mathis at the opposite defensive end spot.
The two-hour practice began to pick up tempo when the offense and defense came together for some 11-on-11 work. Quarterback Curtis Painter was five-for-seven during this session, finding tight end Dallas Clark on three of those completions. Fellow quarterback Dan Orlovsky took the other reps during the 11-on-11 and the seven-year veteran was three-of-four throwing. The highlight from the running game came from Joseph Addai on a run straight up the middle.
The afternoon practice consisted of a special teams walk through involving punting. Coach Ray Rychelski used a tennis ball during the walk through and went over various formations and rules regarding downing the ball. On the opposite end of the field, offensive line coaches Pete Metzelaars and Ron Prince worked with the five rookie offensive lineman: David Bedford, Anthony Castonzo, Ben Ijalana, Jake Kirkpatrick and Mike Tepper.
When the Colts linebacker corps jogged onto the practice field for the 11-on-11 session Monday morning it was a game of follow the leader. At the front of the pack was the captain, linebacker Gary Brackett, who has manned the middle of the Colts defense for the past six seasons. In close pursuit behind their captain were outside linebackers Pat Angerer and Kavell Connor. The two second-year linebackers might be young in experience but learned valuable lessons during their rookie campaigns.
Angerer and Connor formed one of the most productive defensive rookie combinations in all the NFL in 2010. Angerer finished the year with 88 total tackles, which was good for fourth among all first-year players. On the other side of defense was Connor and his 57 tackles, which placed him 14th among all rookies.
On a Colts defense veterans scattered with veterans, it's the two outside linebackers that are ready to take the next step.
"It's definitely a blessing to get that kind of experience in your first year and coming this year I am going to get better and improve on everything that I didn't last year," Connor said.
Angerer started the final 12 games in the 2010 season and finished third on the team in tackles.
Three times in 2010, Angerer recorded double-digit tackle games and the Iowa product knows he is worlds ahead of where he was this time last season.
"It's like not having to use a GPS around town," Angerer said. "Instead of using a set GPS where to go, you start taking short cuts and kind of know where to go faster so it helps out a lot."
A seventh-round pick out of Clemson, Connor started 10 games in 2010 and led the Colts with eight tackles in their AFC Wild Card game against the New York Jets.
"I feel more comfortable with the defense and more accustomed to the speed of the game," Connor said.
Despite only being in their second season, head coach Jim Caldwell said having any game experience can go a long way in developing young talent.
"Any time you have good veteran depth, guys that have games under their belt, it makes a big difference because they understand speed of the competition," Caldwell said. "It makes you feel a lot better because you know when they're going in they aren't going to make a lot of young mistakes due to inexperience, so you feel good about that."
"They are also the right kind of people (Kavell Connor and Pat Angerer.) They run hard. They tackle. They're good leaders and both the guys are guys that don't say a word, they just practice and play. So, they're fun to be around. They are real professionals. That's the word I could use and that I could use on a number of cases out there on our team, but those two guys are certainly two guys who understand and get it and have been functioning well thus far."
With the Colts electing not to re-sign linebacker Clint Session, early signs in training camp could point to the two second-year pros alongside Brackett in 2011. However, they know when it comes to a vocal leader on defense that role belongs to number 58.
"I mean we (Connor and Angerer) haven't done enough to be outspoken," Angerer said. "I got to get better at football before I start speaking my mind."
PLAY OF THE DAY
Even though special teams was the sole focus of the afternoon practice they also stole the show in the morning. A plethora of Colts stormed through the middle of the punt coverage unit and blocked Pat McAfee's punt through the back of the end zone during special teams drills. Special teams coach Ray Rychelski had the situational punt snapped from just in front of the end zone, which forced the punt unit to get the kick off in a quicker time than normal. The punt block unit took advantage of this and blocked McAfee's punt out of the end zone.
PLAYERS WHO DID NOT PARTICPATE IN AFTERNOON PRACTICE INCLUDE:
TE-Brody Eldridge (Knee)
DE-Dwight Freeney (Rest)
LB-Cody Glenn (Neck)
WR-Kole Heckendorf (Foot)
DT-DeMario Pressley (Hamstring)
OG-Jamey Richard (Calf)
DB-Chris Rucker (Ankle)
LB-Ernie Sims (Appendectomy)
OG-Jaimie Thomas (Back)
OT-James Williams (Foot)
On the cornerback competition:
"Right now I think it's good and healthy and spirited competition. We have a good sense of what Jerraud (Powers) can do. He's been a very fine player for us, and (Jacob) Lacey as well. Then there's some guys like Kevin Thomas that we don't know much about because he was with us of all about half of an individual period before he was hurt last year, but today he looked like he was moving around and feeling good. Justin Tryon obviously played for us last year so we know a little bit about him. He's a good cover-man and he's working on some of the things that he's maybe not so good at. We have a good balance of guys, a good nucleus, and then Chris Rucker who's down, but hopefully he'll be able to come back tomorrow and get after it a little bit."
QUOTE TO NOTE
Quarterback Dan Orlovsky on the quarterback competition with Curtis Painter:
"My biggest thing is to go out learn and compete. I don't know the exact situation. Obviously, Curtis is the back-up right now, that's my assumption, but I am just going to go out and compete. I have been in Curtis' shoes before, so I know what it is like. I am just going to go out there and compete and go play and play well and make it hard on the coaches."
Tight end Rob Myers (rib) was waived-injured.
Monday's question is: Who holds the Colts record for most seasons with at least 10 touchdowns. Name the player and how many years he accomplished this.
Tuesday's practice sessions are 9:30 a.m. and 3:30 p.m. The morning practice is scheduled for an hour and fifteen minutes and will be in shorts. The 3:30 session is scheduled to run until 5:15 with the Colts in shells during that practice.
WHO'S COVERING THE COLTS
Monday saw a pair of national writers out at Colts practice. Jason Cole of Yahoo! Sports and Paul Kuharsky of ESPN.com took in both practices. Colts preseason TV play-by-play man Don Fischer also was out at practice Monday morning. Fischer has been the club's preseason voice on television since 1994.
The weather in Anderson on Monday was partly sunny with a high of 84 degrees. The low was 70 degrees. The forecast for Tuesday is a chance of thunderstorms in the afternoon with a high temperature of 86 degrees and a low of 62.
FOR THE FANS
COLTS CITY remains a popular destination point for training camp attendees. Colts city elements include: interactive inflatables, sponsor booths, giveaways and register-to-win ticket opportunities, Colts In Motion traveling museum, Colts Express Retail Trailer, cheerleader autograph session, opportunities to learn about and support charities in the community and appearance by Blue (the official mascot of the Colts)
COLTS CITY OPEN:
Tuesday, August 9 9 a.m. to 12 p.m. and 2:30 p.m. to 6 p.m.
Wednesday, August 10 9 a.m. to 12 p.m. and 5 p.m. to 10 p.m.
Tuesday, August 16 9 a.m. to 12 p.m. and 5 p.m. to 10 p.m.
COLTS CITY CONCERT SERIES:
Wednesday, August 10 'Living Proof' from 5 p.m. to 7:15 p.m.
Tuesday, August 16 'Clayton Anderson' from 5 p.m. to 7:15 p.m.
Fireworks show following the conclusion of the 7:30 p.m. practice
Friday's trivia question was: Peyton Manning holds the record for the most consecutive completions by a Colt in the regular season. Name how many completions it was and the two teams the streak (the completion streak stretched over two games) was set against.
The answer is 23 completions and Manning accomplished the feat on December 14, 2008 against Detroit and continued it on December 18, 2008 @Jacksonville.