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2020 #ColtsCamp Notebook, Aug. 22: Michael Pittman Jr., Rock Ya-Sin Continue Competitive Battle; DeForest Buckner Returns

The Indianapolis Colts had yet another competitive training camp practice on Saturday morning at the Indiana Farm Bureau Football Center, as the team got one step closer to its 2020 season opener against the Jacksonville Jaguars. What were some of the top takeaways from the day?


INDIANAPOLIS — The Indianapolis Colts had yet another competitive training camp practice on Saturday morning at the Indiana Farm Bureau Football Center, as the team got one step closer to its 2020 season opener against the Jacksonville Jaguars. What were some of the top takeaways from the day?

» Among those returning for the Colts on Saturday were defensive tackle DeForest Buckner and defensive tackle/end Denico Autry. Buckner — who was more of a limited participant on Saturday — had missed two practices with a hand injury, while Autry sat out on Friday with an ankle injury.

» Among those not participating in Saturday's practice: wide receiver Chad Williams (unknown), cornerback Kenny Moore II (groin), safety George Odum (unknown), cornerback Isaiah Rodgers (unknown), running back Bruce Anderson III (unknown), tight end Xavier Grimble (unknown), long snapper Luke Rhodes (unknown), tight end Ian Bunting (unknown), guard Chaz Green (unknown), tackle Braden Smith (foot), tackle Andrew Donnal (unknown), wide receiver Marcus Johnson (unknown), tight end Jack Doyle (neck) and defensive tackle Sheldon Day (knee).

» The Colts were pretty thin at the tight end position throughout the day, down to just Trey Burton, Farrod Green and Mo Alie-Cox, who is still working his way back to more of a full load after returning from the Physically Unable to Perform (PUP) list on Friday. Tight end Andrew Vollert, claimed off waivers by the Colts on Friday, is on the exempt list until Monday.

» With the long snapper Rhodes out Saturday, the Colts still ran out their kicking and punting units as usual, but with an emergency snapper: tight end Trey Burton. Rodrigo Blankenship connected on 4-of-7 kicks, while Chase McLaughlin was 3-for-7. While it won't be used as an excuse, there is something to be said about a sudden change in the snapper-holder-kicker operation that can throw timing off. It's good to get this practice in now because you never know what can happen throughout the season.

» Head coach Frank Reich today mixed up the way the two kickers were getting their reps in. After not attempting any field goals during team action on Friday, Reich had McLaughlin kick three field goals early in Saturday's practice, and then Blankenship attempted three. The next two field goal opportunities saw the two kickers alternating chances from the same distances.

» One last kicking-related item: we now know part of the kicking competition includes attaching Nos. 1-49 to one kicker and Nos. 50-99 to another, and whichever kicker isn't able to "win the day," his group has to run a mid-practice sprint. On Saturday it was Nos. 1-49 lining up to run for the first time all camp; cornerback Rock Ya-Sin, running back Jonathan Taylor and quarterback Chad Kelly (yes, even the QBs had to run) all paced the group.

» Almost like clockwork, the very first play of 11-on-11s was quarterback Philip Rivers connecting with wide receiver T.Y. Hilton on a well-placed back-shoulder pass, just out of reach of cornerback Xavier Rhodes.

» And, again like clockwork from this first week or so of camp, Tyquan Lewis came through in a big way on the very next play, crashing from inside to log a tackle for loss on a Marlon Mack rushing attempt. The third-year Ohio State product would have another big run-stuffing play later in the day on third down, putting up his fist to signify fourth down and then confidently walking off the field before being greeted with a fist bump by defensive line coach Brian Baker.

» Autry also had a big day coming off the edge for the Indy defensive line. Early on, he knocked down a Rivers pass attempt to running back Nyheim Hines, and later he showed off his active hands to bust through off the right side against Le'Raven Clark and stop Mack in the backfield.

» But on the very next play, perhaps the offense learned its lesson, as Rivers took advantage of an aggressive defense by quickly tossing to a wide open Zach Pascal, who grabbed the pass over the top for a huge gain. There was a similar play later in practice, as quarterback Jacoby Brissett used the play action to find Burton on the other side of the field for a big chunk.

» Rookie wide receiver Michael Pittman Jr. and second-year cornerback Rock Ya-Sin continue to have really competitive battles lined up out wide. In one 11-on-11 drill on Saturday, Rivers found Pittman Jr. on the quick in against Ya-Sin, who slipped, giving Pittman Jr. room to immediately turn around and get a big chunk of YAC (yards after catch). Those two also split victories in their two 1-on-1 reps, with both reps featuring lots of physicality, much like this pass breakup we saw tweeted out by @Colts from Friday's practice:

» Second-year wide receiver Artavis Scott did his best Superman impression on one passing play late in 11-on-11s, diving all out to haul in a Brissett pass, with cornerback Travis Reed in coverage. Scott had 245 receptions for 2,458 yards and 19 touchdowns during his college career at Clemson, finishing first all-time in school history in receptions and fifth in receiving touchdowns, and after spending the last three seasons in the San Diego/Los Angeles Chargers organization, mostly on their practice squad, he's hoping to make the most of his new opportunity in Indy.

» Two late defensive plays caught my eye: first, safety Donald Rutledge had a nice effort on a pass play from quarterback Jacob Eason to fullback Roosevelt Nix; Rutledge came flying in at just the right time to punch the ball out of Nix's hands for a likely incompletion. Later, Eason tried to go with the jump ball along the sideline to the 6-foot-4, 225-pound Patmon, but cornerback Jackson Porter was all over the receiver and knocked the ball away.

» The Colts utilized both fields for simultaneous 11-on-11 action for the first time in camp on Saturday, pitting the No. 1 offense against the No. 2 defense on one field, and the No. 2 offense against the No. 1 defense on the other field. Second-year veteran Taylor Stallworth was seen getting in some reps at the one technique during this period; the 6-foot-2, 305-pound South Carolina product has played in 18 career games with the New Orleans Saints (2018-19) and has 13 total tackles, a sack and a fumble recovery to his credit.

» The wide receivers and tight ends had a 9-6 advantage over the defensive backs in their 1-on-1 reps on Saturday. The 2020 sixth-round pick Patmon hauled in a couple nice receptions in his two reps against cornerbacks Lafayette Pitts and T.J. Carrie.

» Today was the Colts' fifth of 11 scheduled fully-padded practices of camp before the start of the regular season. They're scheduled to have two more the next two days, with Monday's practice their first of two of the week at Lucas Oil Stadium (those sessions are closed to the public), before the players get an off day on Tuesday.

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