2019 #ColtsCamp Notebook, Day 6: Mixing And Matching On Defense

WESTFIELD, Ind. — Today was Day 6 of the Indianapolis Colts’ 2019 training camp practices at Grand Park Sports Campus in Westfield, Ind.

Here were some top takeaways from the day’s session:

TEAM

— The Colts returned to full pads today for their second morning practice of the week. Those who did not participate in Wednesday’s practice: wide receiver Penny Hart, quarterback Andrew Luck, wide receiver T.Y. Hilton, wide receiver Parris Campbell, running back Jordan Wilkins, safety Clayton Geathers, tight end Ross Travis, tight end Billy Brown, linebacker Ben Banogu, defensive end Kemoko Turay, tackle/guard Braden Smith, tight end Jack Doyle, defensive tackle Margus Hunt and defensive end Jabaal Sheard.

— Of those players, the team said Hilton, Geathers and Hunt were having a maintenance day off. Colts head coach Frank Reich did not speak with reporters on Wednesday, but is scheduled to talk after Thursday’s practice.

— With the pads back on, we saw some tough battles in the wide receiver/tight end vs. cornerback/safety one-on-one drills. The offense “won” 15 of the 28 (54 percent) reps, with a “win” meaning the pass was caught or defensive pass interference was called. A “win” for the defense means any other result. Here is how it broke down: Malik Hooker def. Eric Ebron (flag on Ebron); Pierre Desir def. Marcus Johnson; Quincy Wilson def. Krishawn Hogan; Hale Hentges def. George Odum; Steve Ishmael def. Nate Hairston; Zach Pascal def. Kenny Moore II; Khari Willis def. Gabe Holmes; Chester Rogers def. Quincy Wilson; Daurice Fountain def. Jalen Collins; Ashton Dulin def. Marvell Tell III (flag on Tell III); Hale Hentges def. Rolan Milligan; Matthias Farley def. Mo Alie-Cox; Jordan Veasy def. Chris Milton; Krishawn Hogan def. Rock Ya-Sin (Hogan put a double move on Ya-Sin and caught the ball about 30 yards down the left sideline); Shakial Taylor def. Roger Lewis; Isaiah Johnson def. Eric Ebron; Gabe Holmes def. Derrick Kindred (the two battled for the ball, but Holmes eventually ripped it free); Quincy Wilson def. Zach Pascal; Pierre Desir def. Marcus Johnson; Malik Hooker def. Mo Alie-Cox; Nate Hairston def. Steve Ishmael (Ishmael made a nice one-handed catch about 25 yards down the right sideline but couldn't get both feet in); Devin Funchess def. Marvell Tell III; Jalen Collins def. Daurice Fountain; Rock Ya-Sin def. Krishawn Hogan; Hale Hentges def. George Odum; Jordan Veasy def. Chris Milton (Veasy made the catch about 20 yards down the right sideline as he tumbled to the ground); Eric Ebron def. Matthias Farley (flag on Farley); Roger Lewis def. Shakial Taylor.

— The running backs and linebackers also had some one-on-one blocking drills. The linebackers “won” eight of the 13 reps (61 percent), but running back Jonathan Williams brought it for this drill, winning all three of his opportunities against Ahmad Thomas, Anthony Walker and Zaire Franklin.

— The running backs and linebackers then broke off into a coverage drill. The defenders forced an incompletion on two of 10 reps as the backs collectively showed off some quality pass-catching skills.

— In one-on-one drills between offensive and defensive linemen alter in practice, the offense could claim a “win” on 17 of 29 snaps (58.6 percent). Here’s the defenders who could likely claim victory: Al-Quadin Muhammad def. Le’Raven Clark; Tyquan Lewis def. Mark Glowinski; Odum Gwacham def. Jackson Barton; Grover Stewart def. Joe Haeg; Jihad Ward def. Jake Eldrenkamp; Caraun Reid def. Ian Silberman; Lewis def. Silberman; Ward def. Eldrenkamp; Denico Autry def. Quenton Nelson; Gwacham def. Barton; Lewis def. Glowinski and Stewart def. Daniel Munyer.

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OFFENSE

— With Braden Smith out today, and the team waiving guard William Poehls and signing guard Ian Silberman yesterday, we saw different offensive lines today. With the first team: Anthony Castonzo (left tackle), Quenton Nelson (left guard), Ryan Kelly (center), Mark Glowinski (right guard) and Le'Raven Clark (right tackle). Also seeing reps with the first unit were Joe Haeg (left tackle/extra blocker), Josh Andrews (center) and Jackson Barton (extra blocker/big tight end).

— The second unit was Antonio Garcia (left tackle), Jake Eldrenkamp (left guard), Andrews (center), Evan Boehm (right guard) and Le’Raven Clark (right tackle). We also saw Haeg at right guard and Barton at right tackle.

— The third unit line was J’Marcus Webb (left tackle), Daniel Munyer (left guard), Evan Boehm (center), Ian Silberman (right guard) and Barton (right tackle).

— The team began 11-on-11s by working on short-yardage and goal line situations, so there was a lot of different personnel used, especially players who contribute to heavy formations. Also contributing to the diversity of personnel was the amount of players out for maintenance/rest.

— Seeing some first-team reps at the skill positions were Marlon Mack, Nyeim Hines and Jonathan Williams at running back, Devin Funchess, Chester Rogers and Zach Pascal at wide receiver, and Eric Ebron, Mo Alie-Cox, Gabe Holmes and Hale Hentges at tight end.

— There were some big plays bred out of the short-yardage packages, especially coming off of play action. On the second play of the day, quarterback Jacoby Brissett faked the handoff and found tight end Mo Alie-Cox about 15 yards down the left seam. The two would also hook up later in the sequence on a goal-line touchdown pass when Brissett found Alie-Cox alone in the back of the end zone — another player where Brissett faked the handoff.

— In a late session of 11-on-11s, Brissett found Funchess about 15 yards near the right sideline. After the catch, cornerback Pierre Desir slid by while Funchess marched upfield. The play would have never developed that far, as defensive end Justin Houston got to Brissett first, but it was still a nice connection. Later, Brissett and Funchess would connect on one that did count, as Brissett hit Funchess about 20 yards down the left sideline on a back-shoulder throw.

— With the second unit — still in the early 11-on-11 short-yardage segment — quarterback Phillip Walker faked a handoff and hit receiver Zach Pascal wide open down the left side for about a 30-yard touchdown. It's the second day in a row that Pascal has hauled in a deep touchdown.

— The Colts have found a couple of big running backs who can contribute in the passing game as well. Both Jonathan Williams and newcomer Keith Ford have run with attitude between the tackles and have caught the ball seamlessly, both in scrimmages and one-on-ones. Ford also had a big run today where he found great blocking near the boundary on the right side and ran to daylight.

— One of the more entertaining battles of camp has been guard Quenton Nelson vs. defensive tackle Denico Autry. Brissett drew Autry offsides during the short-yardage 11-on-11s, which led Nelson to give an emphatic first-down signal.

— This may have been second-year receiver Daurice Fountain's best training camp practice in his young career. He made a handful of impressive catches, going low, getting his feet in-bounds on the sideline and even catching a ball off of a tip by a defender. He is also very sharp and crisp with his cuts while running routes.

— We now appear to be entering the Krishawn Hogan portion of training camp once again this year. Lat year after Hogan shed his knee brace following ACL surgery, he took off and was impressive. He's flashing again this year as he seems to make multiple big catches per practice including today. He moves very well for his 6-3, 217-pound frame.

— Rookie undrafted tight end Hale Hentges had a big showing in the one-on-ones against safeties. He caught all three of his targets — all of which were downfield — and displayed the ability to not lose any momentum when going in and out of his cuts.

— Before team drills got underway, quarterbacks and centers paired off, with Jacoby Brissett taking snaps from Ryan Kelly, Phillip Walker taking snaps from Josh Andrews and Chad Kelly taking snaps from Evan Boehm.

(via Jake Arthur/Colts.com)

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DEFENSE

— The offensive/defensive 11-on-11s got started with the first live-hitting portion of this year’s training camp. And the coaching staff couldn’t have picked two more pressure-filled situations to get that started, as the team first worked through some 3rd and 1 scenarios before moving over to 1st and Goal from the 1-yard line.

— To start out on 3rd and 1, the team sent out the following defense: Al-Quadin Muhammad and Justin Houston (defensive end); Tyquan Lewis and Denico Autry (defensive tackle); Darius Leonard (WILL), Anthony Walker (MIKE) and E.J. Speed (SAM) at linebacker; Pierre Desir and Kenny Moore II at cornerback; and Malik Hooker and Khari Willis at safety.

— The rookies Speed and Willis got extended reps with the “first-unit” defense today. Speed was especially productive, making multiple stops in the run game. Defensive coordinator Matt Eberflus is trying to throw his young guys in the fire and seeing how they react, and so far, so good.

— Another unit seen during 3rd and 1 work was a nickel package consisting of Gerri Green and Carroll Phillips (defensive end); Lewis and Jihad Ward (defensive tackle); Bobby Okereke (MIKE) and Speed (WILL); Rock Ya-Sin and Jalen Collins (outside) and Nate Hairston (nickel) at cornerback; and Matthias Farley and George Odum at safety.

— When the action changed to a 1st and Goal at the 1-yard line situation, the Indy defense showed more of a goal line formation that consisted of Muhammad, Ward, Grover Stewart and Green up front, with three linebackers — Walker, Speed and Zaire Franklin — and two safeties in Farley and Hooker.

— The defensive line got its paws on multiple pass attempts on Wednesday. One of those pass breakups can be credited to Autry, who knocked the ball straight up in the air. The veteran Houston couldn’t quite find the wobbly football and come down with the pick.

— Leonard continues to shine in pass coverage opportunities. He showed off his elite quickness on a pass attempt to running back Nyheim Hines, reacting to the throw, getting in the lane and knocking the ball down — and letting everybody know about it.

— Eberflus continued to mix things up as practice went on. He had a defensive front that consisted of Houston, Stewart, Autry and Muhammad; linebackers that included Leonard (WILL), Okereke (MIKE) and Matthew Adams (SAM); Desir and Moore II at corner, with Moore II moving inside to the slot and Quincy Wilson playing outside in nickel; and Hooker and Willis at safety.

— In this above formation, we saw Houston absolutely bully his way past left tackle Anthony Castonzo to quarterback Jacoby Brissett for a would-be sack. The play was allowed to continue, however, leading to the aforementioned 15-yard completion to Funchess.

— The defense continued mixing and matching various position groups until the end of practice. Moore II reminded everyone of his prowess as a blitzing cornerback when he logged a would-be sack of quarterback Phillip Walker, putting his finger in the air to credit himself like a basketball player showing the scorer’s table he had committed a foul.

— Ya-Sin collected yet another interception on Wednesday, this in one-on-one coverage against wide receiver Devin Funchess along the left sideline. Ya-Sin was able to turn his head and find the slightly underthrown ball and make the play, setting up some jawing between the veteran receiver and the rookie cornerback.

(via Andrew Walker/Colts.com)

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SPECIAL TEAMS

— The team portion of practice started with a kickoff return period. Those in for the first kickoff return included Anthony Walker, Bobby Okereke, Quincy Wilson, Khari Willis, Matthew Adams, Chris Milton, Zaire Franklin and George Odum on the front line, Marcus Johnson and Mo Alie-Cox as the upbacks and Nyheim Hines as the returner.

— Hines, Zach Pascal, Marlon Mack and Chester Rogers all got work in as kickoff returners Wednesday.

— Later in practice, the kickoff coverage units got in some quality work. Those on the first unit included Matthias Farley, Nate Hairston, Franklin, E.J. Speed, Pascal, Rigoberto Sanchez, Odum, Carroll Phillips, Milton, Willis and Kenny Moore II.

(via Andrew Walker/Colts.com)

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