Rookie Watch: Updates On Drew Ogletree, Alec Pierce, Jelani Woods, Eric Johnson II From Colts Training Camp

The Colts' preseason opener on Saturday against the Buffalo Bills is a key checkpoint in training camp for evaluating the team's 2022 rookie class. 

WESTFIELD, Ind. – Drew Ogletree saw how far apart the linebackers in front of him were and knew: Alright, this pass is coming to me, and it's going to come in high.

What he didn't know was if Matt Ryan was going to throw it to his right shoulder or left shoulder. So when Ogletree turned for the ball, he saw it zipping toward his right shoulder – and then he did this:

Ogletree, the 6-foot-5, 260 pound wide-receiver-turned-tight-end the Colts selected in the sixth round of the 2022 NFL Draft, has flashed a handful of times over two weeks of training camp practices at Grand Park. He's worked his way into the Colts' tight end rotation with the first-team offense and is "definitely further along," offensive coordinator Marcus Brady said, from where he was in OTAs during the spring.

"He has definitely taken a step throughout training camp, is playing very well and you can see why he's taking some first-team reps in there, getting comfortable with Matt," Brady said. "We'll see how it goes, but he's trending definitely up."

Getting those first-team reps – and making plays on them – is boosting Ogletree's confidence as he navigates another jump in competition (he went from playing wide receiver at D-II Findlay to tight end at FCS-level Youngstown State). The next step for Ogletree will be to continue trending up when the Colts kick off their first preseason game of 2022 against the Buffalo Bills. But it's been so far, so good for Ogletree.

"It just seemed like he knew what he was doing right away," head coach Frank Reich said. "There was never any ramp-up time. It just seemed like he fit in right from the start.

"So, now the challenge is to keep getting better from here. You know you come in, you handle it the right way, you look like you belong, but now you have to keep getting better and play winning football, not just play good football. I think Drew is showing that and I'm really happy he is here."

Other notes and observations on the Colts' rookies heading into the preseason opener:

  • Wide receiver Alec Pierce, who recorded a 40.5-inch vertical at the NFL Combine, flashed his go-up-and-get-it ball-winning skills when he high-pointed a deep throw from Ryan for a catch during one-on-ones this week.
  • The Colts are seeing tight end Jelani Woods' arrow pointing up: "I see more and more of him every day," Reich said. "You can just tell he is getting more and more comfortable with the offense. He's playing faster and faster. You can see big, long, speed. You see it out there and the ball is not always going to him but really excited about the upside that he brings, and I'm excited about what he is doing as a blocker. I mean, he's getting better there. I think (tight ends coach) Klayton (Adams) is working hard with him, and it means something to him. So, he is working hard to become a better blocker."
  • Defensive tackle Eric Johnson II has flashed a few times in practice recently – he's looked quick off the snap and disruptive. "It seems like everything is clicking and he's gotten better over time," defensive tackle Grover Stewart said.
  • Undrafted rookie cornerback Dallis Flowers notched an interception of Ryan during a two-minute 11-on-11 period on Monday. Flowers, who ran a 4.40 40-yard dash at his pro day, attended college D-II Pittsburg State and high school at Oak Park-River Forest in Oak Park, Ill. (the latter of which is relevant here because it's the author of this article's prep alma mater, too).

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