WESTFIELD, Ind. — The Colts are nearly halfway done with training camp practices — nine down, 10 to go at Grand Park. And right at the top of the list of players who've stacked good days after good days so far is first-round pick Kwity Paye.
One the last week and a half, we've heard coaches and teammates describe how impressive Paye's been in Westfield. On Saturday, after another disruptive, impactful practice from the No. 21 overall pick, we heard from coach Frank Reich, too.
"Man, he looks good," Reich said. "He looks fast, really taking to coaching well, relentless effort, really a lot of talent but really a smart player.
"You can see him translating the things that we're coaching and teaching, you can see him translating those things to his pass rush and you can see the natural — you always saw the natural power but today I saw speed. I saw speed, which we knew he had, but as a rookie it takes you a second to play fast. And I'm starting to see him play faster and faster."
Paye said he's been working on honing his speed rushes during training camp. He's always had the power aspect to pass rushing, but said he's learning to trust his quickness at the snap and his ability to win with speed.
So far, those efforts look like they're paying off.
Saturday's QB check-in
Jacob Eason made a number of good plays during Saturday morning's practice, including a couple of strikes to wide receiver Parris Campbell in 11-on-11 work. One of those plays stood out to Reich in that Eason was able to use his arm strength to zip a completion outside the numbers.
"Jacob's biggest jump is there's been times in the pass game where I can see him getting through the progressions faster, which is good, and that's normal, that doesn't surprise me," Reich said. "But it's just reps. And then today, he made a big time throw on a stop route to the left under a little bit of pressure.
"And that's what you like about Jacob, he can make those throws outside the numbers. But what I've seen some progress in is seeing the stuff inside and feeling comfortable and confident working through a progression and working inside receivers where there's more bodies and you gotta know where everybody's at. So making good progress."
Reich has consistently expressed how pleased he's been with sixth round pick Sam Ehlinger's progress during training camp, too. But for now, the Colts will stick with their plan at quarterback with Carson Wentz out following a foot procedure on Monday -- so with Eason running the No. 1 offense and Ehlinger with the twos.
"Sam's getting a lot of reps. They'll keep competing," Reich said. "It's a competition. Right now we're comfortable with the plan we have to have Jacob in the driver's seat right now, knowing that Sam's getting plenty of reps and we're taking note to how he looks, and he looks good. But Jacob's making good progress as well."
- Safety Julian Blackmon and tight end Kylen Granson did not practice due to knee issues, with Reich saying their absences were more precautionary than anything.
- Defensive tackle DeForest Buckner did not finish Saturday's practice with a foot issue, which Reich quickly noted is "unrelated" to the procedures Wentz and Quenton Nelson underwent earlier in the week. Like with Blackmon and Granson, the Colts were playing things safe with the 2020 All-Pro.
- Linebacker Darius Leonard has yet to practice in training camp following an offseason ankle procedure. Reich explained the strategy for getting the fourth-year linebacker back on the field as "Just taking that extra step, going that extra mile plus to make sure he's ready to step back out there."
- Wide receiver Michael Pittman Jr.'s one-on-one reps have become a must-watch staple of training camp. The second-year wideout has had some tremendous, competitive battles with the likes of Kenny Moore II and Xavier Rhodes over the last few days, although a highlight Saturday was Rhodes nearly picking off a deep throw to Pittman in that drill. Still, Pittman continues to have an excellent training camp.
- Running back Jonathan Taylor again flashed his well-rounded skillset on Saturday in more ways than just rushing attempts. Taylor had a handful of impressive reps in pass protection, including one in 11 on 11 work in which he stuck his nose into a turbo-boosting Ben Banogu to allow Eason to get a throw off. Later, Taylor protected Eason by stopping Paye from getting near the quarterback in a full-team goal line rep.
- Cornerback T.J. Carrie flashed a few times with an interception in one-on-one and a pass break-up in 11 on 11.
They said it
"Sam's really been impressive. Very good grasp of the offense very quickly. With limited offseason work has really come in and worked hard, done extra work. Scott Milanovich and Parks Frazier have done a great job getting him up to speed. But credit goes to Sam. He comes in and handles himself well. He's kind of got that — he's kind of got something about him. It's not too big for him. You can feel that and he's handling himself well." — Head coach Frank Reich on quarterback Sam Ehlinger