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Colts' Josh Downs feels prepared for mental, physical challenges of first NFL training camp

Wide receivers coach Reggie Wayne has already seen the impact of Downs being a coach's son. 


WESTFIELD, Ind. – From 1994-2000, Gary Downs learned what it takes to successfully navigate an NFL training camp. The running back spent time with the New York Giants, Denver Broncos and Atlanta Falcons, and earlier this summer, he passed on the lessons he picked up in those stops to his son, Josh – the wide receiver the Colts selected in the third round of the 2023 NFL Draft.

So as Downs has got to work at his first NFL training camp this week, he's kept those words of wisdom in mind.

"My dad told me take every day one day at a time," Downs said. "You can't really count the last day going into the next one because if you get up on your past successes, you kind of fall back. Or if you dwell on your past mistakes then you might mess up the next day."

Gary Downs, after his playing career ended, got into coaching – he's currently the running backs coach for at East Tennessee State. Josh Downs also got the same pre-camp advice from his uncle, former St. Louis Rams and Detroit Lions cornerback Dre Bly

Training camp can be disorienting for a rookie – there's so much put on your plate both mentally and physically, all while you're trying to figure out where to go and the names of staffers you interact with. But Downs feels prepared to handle everything that comes his way over the next few weeks while giving himself the best chance to make an impact on the Colts' offense in 2023.

"He's a coach's son, so he understands some things differently," wide receivers coach Reggie Wayne said. "... All those little things that people don't understand, he's one of those guys that instead of telling him three times, you have to tell him twice."

How Downs handles the mental challenge of adjusting to the NFL – which, on the field, includes where his splits are and pre- and post-snap route adjustments – is important to proving his readiness to play as a rookie. The physicality and speed of the league, too, is a hurdle he will have to clear – but getting to face Kenny Moore II in practice is about as good a trial as there is for Downs.

"Kenny Moore is one of the best slot corners, corners in the league," Downs said. "He's physical. I know I gotta come on my A game every day. He disguises his coverage as well — he's a seven-year vet so he knows what he's doing. Having him out here, it should make the game a lot easier." 

If Downs is able to pass those mental and physical welcome-to-the-NFL tests, the Colts believe his natural ability – which Wayne lauded during the pre-draft process – and feel for how to get open can take over.

He's everything I saw in workouts, Combine," Wayne said. "I'm excited for him. I'm excited to see what he can bring to the table to help us excel."

See some of the best photos of players greeting Colts fans on the first day of 2023 training camp.

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