INDIANAPOLIS – Another day of tussle-free work between the Colts and Bears took place on Thursday to wrap up two days of practice together.
Colts.com split up again on Thursday. I was back on the normal Colts practice field to watch Andrew Luck and the offense (Steve Andress followed the defense on Thursday afternoon).
What were my takeaways from the Colts offense?
- The highlight from the two days of joint practice came at the end of Thursday's two-hour session. The teams came together on one field for the last period of work, two-minute drills.
Simply put, the Colts were dominant. Dwight Lowery picked off Bears quarterback Jay Cutler on a fourth-down, short of midfield, to start things off. The Colts first-team offense was up next and produced a touchdown drive. Andrew Luck was five-of-six (finding four different pass catchers), including a beautiful touchdown strike to T.Y. Hilton (Hilton also caught the ensuing two-point conversion). Next up were the second units. The Colts second-team defense saw safety Winston Guy pick off Bears quarterback Jimmy Clausen. Backup quarterback Matt Hasselbeck concluded practice by leading a touchdown drive, with rookie Phillip Dorsett catching a fourth-down touchdown.
- Watching the Colts offense work on Thursday, the Bears defense had its moments during the early part of the practice.
Andrew Luck had to scramble on a few plays and take some coverage "sacks". The Colts offense was at its best on Thursday when the situational periods of practice took place (third-down, red-zone and two-minute).
- Vick Ballard received several reps with the first-team offense on Thursday afternoon.
Ballard appeared to have no restrictions as he hopes to play on Saturday for the first time since the 2013 season opener. Ballard took part in blocking drills, 9-on-7 work and in 11-on-11 periods. I'm anxious to see how Ballard looks when he lets everything loose on Saturday night.
OTHER PRACTICE MUSINGS
- I really enjoy watching Josh Robinson run. Maybe it's Robinson's unique body type, but he can really scoot in the open field. He had a nice catch during team drills on Thursday.
- With Frank Gore sitting out much of Thursday's practice, Boom Herron was back taking the bulk of the first-team reps.
- On the Hasselbeck-to-Dorsett touchdown catch during the two-minute drill, Griff Whalen made a terrific one-handed catch along the sideline. Both Whalen and Vincent Brown had impressive catches on Thursday (fitting with both fighting for one of the final wide receiver spots).
- With Hugh Thornton out "week-to-week" due to a knee sprain, the second-team guards on Thursday were David Arkin and Kitt O'Brien. If starting guards Lance Louis or Todd Herremans were to go down, you wonder if the Colts would slide Jack Mewhort back to guard or turn to Joe Reitz/Jonotthan Harrison.
- After Thursday's practice, Bears head coach John Fox said these joint practices probably went better than any other he's done against another team. This echoes what Chuck Pagano said on Thursday morning of hoping to continue to do joint practices going forward.
INJURY REPORT/ROSTER MOVES
-The following players did not participate on Thursday or left practice early: Robert Mathis, Donald Thomas, Nate Irving (participated in the individual period only), Jalil Brown (hamstring) and Quan Bray (groin).
Chuck Pagano on if he would like to do another joint practice:
"I would love to. It's just great work and you get tired, like we said, of pounding on each other. You talk to Coach Fox and his staff and his players and they say the same thing. The message is the same when you talk to everybody. It's a measuring stick for all of our guys to go against somebody else, different skill set, different pass rushers, different protectors, different runners, different wide receivers, all those kinds of things. Scheme-wise you're seeing different concepts in all three phases, so there's a ton of plusses. Again, you have a great group of guys working out there. I think coming off these two days, we're all going to look back on it and say this was extremely beneficial to our development as a football team and they're probably going to say the same thing. It's too close to me. You're two and half-hours or whatever it is. You're too close not to do it. We play Cincinnati ever year in the preseason. It's always the last game, so that makes it difficult to say we're going to practice against you before the last game. It's just not going to work out that way. So we'd love to do it and continue to."
PLAYER QUOTE OF THE DAY
Andrew Luck on Vick Ballard seeing his first playing time this Saturday since the 2013 season opener:
"It would be awesome if he got out there. He is such a warrior. He just does everything right, not a good teammate, a great teammate. Seeing him out on the practice field brings great memories of playing together rookie year and him just (making) clutch plays. He blocks like Frank Gore, gets up there and hits people, He is a stud."
TWEET OF THE DAY