WESTFIELD, Ind. — The same Jacob Eason the Colts saw Sunday at Lucas Oil Stadium showed up Tuesday at Grand Park.
The decisiveness and confidence that led Eason to complete 15 of 21 passes for 183 yards against the Carolina Panthers led Eason to a crisp, strong practice two days later. And it was no coincidence that Eason immediately stacked a good practice off his impressive preseason debut.
"That was one thing (quarterbacks coach Scott) Milanovich and I were talking about is he's just playing with a little bit more confidence," offensive coordinator Marcus Brady said. "That's the growth of a young quarterback is just continue getting reps, they get that live action, now they're going to feel more comfortable as they move forward."
Eason displayed a good connection with wide receiver T.Y. Hilton during Tuesday's practice, including on a couple of accurate throws to the sideline on which the veteran receiver showcased some mid-season toe-tapping form. That connection was an important thing to see, given Eason and Hilton hadn't thrown together until a couple of weeks ago when Carson Wentz underwent a foot procedure.
And Hilton saw the same thing Brady did with Eason's confidence on Tuesday.
"The game — he really needed to get a game under his belt," Hilton said. "He's putting in the work, putting in the film, putting in time out here on the field and it's just showing off. He's doing great. He's looking good."
While Eason is building trust with his pass catchers, his coaches are building trust with him — with Sunday's game a big factor in that growth.
Coach Frank Reich said he felt his eyes and Eason's eyes were going to the same place most of the time against the Panthers, meaning the quarterback was going through his progressions well and making good decisions (the same goes for Sam Ehlinger, who missed Tuesday's practice with a non-COVID illness).
"Yeah there are two things, eyes going to the same place but then there's also this internal clock like as a former quarterback I'm watching the play and in my mind I'm saying 'ball,' like the ball should be out," Reich said. "Most of the time when I'm in my head saying 'ball', the ball is coming out. There's probably a couple of times where I want to see it get out a tick quicker, those things sometimes make a huge difference in the game, but we're continuing to make really good strides there and a lot of good progress on tape."
And that progress again showed up Tuesday.
"Today you could see the decisions were happening that much quicker, he was seeing it better," Brady said. "I think he's just feeling more confidence in himself, okay, I can play at this level, I can perform in a live situation and you can just feel that from him."
- Defensive tackle DeForest Buckner (foot) and defensive end Kwity Paye (ankle) both returned to practice Tuesday. Also back and participating were tight end Mo Alie-Cox, wide receiver Ashton Dulin and defensive tackle Taylor Stallworth.
- Cornerback Rock Ya-Sin had an interception in a one-on-one drill.
- Also in a one-on-one drill: Cornerback Kenny Moore had an impressive break-up of a pass intended for wide receiver Mike Strachan.
- Two flashes on one play: Defensive end Ben Banogu had a disruptive pass rush and cornerback Holton Hill broke up a Brett Hundley pass during 11-on-11 work.
- The Colts were not in pads on Tuesday but will put the pads back on Wednesday and Thursday ahead of Saturday's preseason game against the Minnesota Vikings at U.S. Bank Stadium.
They said it
"T.Y.'s a guy that's a finesse guy but uses his speed and his size to his advantage. He's a guy that I have to work with all the time because I'm used to facing big receivers. So going against the little guys like him keep me on my toes and on my feet — it makes me use my feet instead of my hands and my physicality. T.Y. just knows his strength and uses it to his best ability." - Cornerback Xavier Rhodes