ANDERSON, Ind. —The pads will remain on for the Indianapolis Colts players for at least one more day in training camp.
With Sunday's preseason opener against the Green Bay Packers in Canton, Ohio, just three days away, the Colts coaches want at least one more opportunity to gauge their players' physicality as they finalize plans for all four quarters of the game.
They'll do just that under the Anderson, Ind., sun Thursday, shifting back to early-afternoon practices after the team conducted its first — and only — night training camp practice Wednesday at Anderson University.
Thusday morning, meanwhile, saw the weekly media availabilities for offensive coordinator Rob Chudzinski and defensive coordinator Ted Monachino. Colts players T.J. Green, T.Y. Hilton and Quan Bray were also out chatting with the media.Rob Chudzinski on if Denzelle Good is the "front runner" at the right guard spot:
"I wouldn't use that phrase for that right now. ... He's still coming back from an injury and working through some of that from being out in the OTAs and last spring."
Walker's Analysis:* *Good has, without a doubt, grasped a majority of the first-team reps at right guard in recent practices, but it's clear that Chudzinski and the coaching staff feel this race is far from over. There are five preseason games this year, potentially giving the coaches an extra four quarters of football to determine who will join left tackle Anthony Castonzo, left guard Jack Mewhort, center Ryan Kelly and right tackle Joe Reitz as the starters up front.
So while Good has been primarily working with the first-team offense and Hugh Thornton — who was listed as the starter at right guard on the Colts' initial unofficial depth chart earlier this week — has primarily been with the second-team, don't forget that Thornton, too, is coming back from injury after missing most of the offseason workout program. You'd believe he still has at least a little more time to stake his claim for a starting spot.Ted Monachino on thedevelopment of his younger defensive players:
"The game is starting to slow down for them after six practices."
Walker's Analysis: For the rookies and younger players on the Colts' roster, the potential mental stumbling blocks that come with the first week or so of training camp are starting to dissolve. Sure, mistakes will still be made, but Monachino is starting to see that proverbial light bulb going on for many of these players
So with much of the technique down — the actual physical expectations of playing their positions — the younger players now have to shore up their communication skills on the field. Sunday's game against the Packers will be huge not only in a sense that it's the first actual game action of the season for these guys, but at some point the staff can just throw the youngsters out on the field in the third and fourth quarter and see how they read and react to everything happening around them.Rob Chudzinski on tight end Mo Alie-Cox's development:
"You see the understanding, the football understanding, start to come around where he's doing things that aren't necessarily drawn up the way it is on the play, and he's making adjustments that you'd expect from somebody who's played the game quite a bit."
Walker's Analysis: The Colts know they have two solid tight ends atop their depth chart in Dwayne Allen and Jack Doyle. Beyond that, however, are opportunities for some younger, less experienced guys to try to earn the No. 3 spot (or the fourth spot, if the team elects to keep that many tight ends).
Swoope has appeared to be the primary candidate for that No. 3 job. His story — being a converted basketball player that had never played a down of football in his life prior to getting to the Colts — has been told many times, but it's obvious by Chudzinski's comments that things really are starting to click for Swoope. Now he's no longer worried about always doing what is asked of him in the playbook; he's better at just playing out there, and not thinking so much.
Swoope still has a ways to go, obviously, but he's got the approval of his coordinator.