INDIANAPOLIS – For the first time in team history, the Colts will host joint practices with another NFL team at the Indiana Farm Bureau Football Center this week.
The team's home base on the west side of Indianapolis will hold two practices (closed to the public) between the Colts and Bears on Wednesday and Thursday afternoon.
The joint sessions will be the first time in the Chuck Pagano era the Colts have added this wrinkle to their preseason.
"You get tired of beating on one another during training camp, so to have an opportunity, if you can find somebody that'll work with you and want to do some work against you, is a great change of pace," Pagano said earlier this offseason.
"Plus, you get to see from a schematic standpoint maybe a different offense, a different defense from an alignment standpoint. If you're going against an odd front the entire time or whatever, it gives you an opportunity to maybe go against a different look and some different players. I'm definitely a proponent of it."
The afternoon practices will run for about two hours, after the teams hold separate walk-throughs earlier in the day.
Pagano's familiarity with new Bears head coach John Fox played into the practices working out this offseason. The teams' preseason schedules also cooperated with the Bears and the Colts meeting Saturday night at Lucas Oil Stadium (7:30 p.m. EST kickoff).
Chicago comes into Week Two of the preseason without their top two pass catchers in Pro Bowler Alshon Jeffery and seventh overall pick Kevin White.
Pro Bowl running back Matt Forte is, however, expected to make his preseason debut on Saturday night in Indianapolis.
The Bears won their preseason opener last Thursday against the Dolphins, 27-10, however they were outgained 132-49 in the first quarter (when the starters mostly played).
Quarterback Jay Cutler, who hails from Santa Claus, Indiana, was 4-of-7 for 42 yards. By all reports, Cutler has been flawless in protecting the ball during Bears Training Camp, after leading the NFL with 18 interceptions last season.
Heading into this week, Cutler's top passing target will likely be veteran Eddie Royal.
After stints in San Diego and Denver, Royal comes to Chicago knowing what these joint practices are all about.
"They are very competitive," the eight-year vet Royal says.
"(The Colts) are one of the best teams in the league, no questions about it. They were one game away from the Super Bowl. They are a tough team. They made it far in the playoffs so it's going to be a physical challenge for us and one that I'm excited about."
Chuck Pagano is eager as well.
Following the Colts preseason opening loss on Sunday afternoon, Pagano was already looking ahead to what should be an entertaining week.
"Week One to Week Two in the preseason, you are always looking for a big jump. We've got to make a huge jump," Pagano said after the game.
"To be able to go against someone else, with the Bears coming to town, is going to be great. The competition should be great."
Chuck Pagano: "Week One to Week Two in the preseason, you are always looking for a big jump. We've got to make a huge jump." Share on Twitter
Photos from the first preseason game of the 2015 season