INDIANAPOLIS — The Indianapolis Colts on Wednesday continued preparing both for Saturday’s third preseason game against the Chicago Bears, as well as their regular season opener against the Los Angeles Chargers. What all did we learn on the day?
Head coach Frank Reich on Wednesday announced that most of the team’s starters will not play in Saturday’s third preseason game against the Chicago Bears at Lucas Oil Stadium.
Traditionally teams have used the third preseason game as a “dress rehearsal” for its No. 1 units, which typically play about a half to get some final in-game reps before the start of the regular season before turning it over to those second and third stringers who are working to win the rest of the jobs on the roster.
But Reich and the Colts recently shifted their focus regarding this third preseason game, instead erring on the side of caution when it comes to the health of their starters, as well as a desire to give more opportunities to those battling for spots.
Colts left tackle Anthony Castonzo said the team’s emphasis on competitive practice settings makes him comfortable about the work they’ve put in heading into the regular season.
“You’ve just got to make your practice reps become like game reps,” Castonzo said. “In the preseason, the games are, at the end of the day, practice because they don’t count towards your record. So you’re just kind of missing out on another practice day.
“I think practice becomes that much more important in terms of finishing practice and making sure that on a rep you finish in the right position, because, you know, sometimes in practice, like, you get your job done and you’re not thinking about finishing the play as much,” he continued. “So that becomes more important because you’re not going to be able to do it at game speed, and practice becomes like a game, basically.”
The Colts were in helmets, shells and shorts on another muggy afternoon on Wednesday. On Tuesday, the team moved things indoors about halfway through practice when a major thunderstorm moved through the area.
Those not seen in the opening portion of practice that’s available to be seen by the media on Wednesday: kicker Adam Vinatieri (knee), quarterback Andrew Luck (ankle), wide receiver Parris Campbell (hamstring), wide receiver Devin Funchess (not disclosed), running back Jordan Wilkins (foot), safety Clayton Geathers (not disclosed), cornerback Nate Hairston (not disclosed), running back Jonathan Williams (chest), cornerback Marvell Tell III (not disclosed), cornerback Isaiah Langley (not disclosed), defensive end Jabaal Sheard (knee) and defensive tackle/end Tyquan Lewis (not disclosed).
Linebacker Matthew Adams, meanwhile, was back on the practice field Wednesday after missing Saturday’s second preseason game against the Cleveland Browns and Tuesday’s first practice back at the Indiana Farm Bureau Football Center.
Vinatieri missed the first two preseason games, the last six training camp practices at Grand Park Sports Campus in Westfield, Ind., as well as the first two days of practice this week as he’s dealt with a knee injury.
But he said Wednesday that he expects to return to practice tomorrow.
“You’ll see me kick tomorrow,” Vinatieri said. “We’re good.”
The Colts have turned to undrafted rookie Cole Hedlund to handle kicking duties the first two preseason games; the North Texas product has knocked in four of his five field goal attempts against the Buffalo Bills and the Cleveland Browns.
“He’s doing a nice job,” Vinatieri said. “He’s really put in a lot of good work and a lot of time, and he’s really honing his craft. I can see just even through the offseason to now he’s really, really matured as far as (being) just really consistent. Looks really good. He’s doing a nice job.”
Like other young kickers he’s shared training camps and preseasons with in years past, Vinatieri believes Hedlund has set himself up well to earn a kicking job sooner rather than later.
“I mean everybody gets film, everybody watches other teams,” Vinatieri said. “So here, there, anywhere, he’s put a lot of great film on, so he’s doing a great job.”