INDIANAPOLIS -- A light comes on at some point for every rookie making the transition from college to the NFL: Hey, all I have to do now is focus on football.
For Colts' first round pick Kwity Paye, that light came on quickly. His job is just to play football — not to play football and go to class, too.
"It's like, now I wake up and be like, 'Man, I have no school. I have nothing to do but focus on football.' It's fun now," Paye said. "Just to be able to focus on one thing, yeah that's cool."
For Paye, there's no question what he's going to do to fill those hours he used to devote to class at Michigan: Reviewing notes, diving into the playbook on his iPad and staying on top of his game so he's as ready as possible when training camp rolls around.
"I feel like I always took pride in what I did on the football field," Paye said. "Now I just get to be a better version of myself because I have more time in the day to really hone in on my craft."
Quick Hits From Thursday's Practice
Solidifying a couple things we've heard and seen over the last few days…
- Zach Pascal estimated earlier in the week Carson Wentz could throw the ball "80, 100 yards for sure." Take those numbers for what you will, but the point is the ball explodes out of Wentz's right hand and he can get quite a bit of distance on his throws. Those two things were abundantly clear on Thursday.
- For the second straight practice open to viewing, Parris Campbell looked quick and fast.
- Kylen Granson made an athletic, difficult catch in the end zone during some red zone work.
Here's how coach Frank Reich summed up the last two weeks of work at Colts HQ:
"It's been a good two weeks. Really pleased with the work that we've gotten done with the players and the coaches. It's kind of mission accomplished. We really wanted to lay a foundation, talking about that you can't really skip any steps as far as the level of preparation. I felt like the two things that we were able to get done was, again go back over in detail the fundamentals and techniques per position that are really important to us – why they're important, work those things out, work hard, improving at those and really creating a foundation for the eight weeks that now the players will have to work out on their own.
"Secondly, we were able to just solidify things in our scheme. Like every team, we make adjustments and adapt every year in all three phases and we've made quite a few adjustments. We have a new quarterback in Carson (Wentz) this year. You guys know how we roll, we play to the strengths of our personnel. We have some different things we are doing there and have had a good chance to get some of those things worked out. We feel really good about that.
"Really credit the players and the coaches for the quality of work, the level of focus for the last two weeks."
And safety Khari Willis similarly praised the last few weeks of workouts:
"I think we've been getting a lot of good work – putting in our defenses, tweaking some things, improving our system here, getting the new guys acclimated, building chemistry both on and off the field. We've been spending a lot of time together off the field. I think that has been one of the main things I'll take from it.
"On the field we're getting a lot of mental reps, a lot of film, a lot of back and forth from players to coach, coach to player on how we can be better and how we can win ball games. I think that's the main thing all of us are here for. I think we've been definitely doing that."
Rookies Make Good First Impressions
Highlighting a few quotes from Colts veterans about the rookie class…
- Defensive lineman Tyquan Lewis on Kwity Paye and Dayo Odeyingbo: "They are young students of the game. Kwity is fast and explosive off the ball. You can just tell by his first step he's a great young player coming up. Dayo, even though he's not doing much right now, you can see him on the sideline watching film and always doing something and like working to get better. Even though he's injured, he's still working."
- Tight end Jack Doyle on Kylen Granson: "He's been impressive. I guess this is just my second day with him, but he seems like a great guy, easy to talk to. (He's) smooth in running and seems to have a good knowledge of just football in general. We obviously haven't spent a ton of time with him yet, but first impressions, he's been impressive."
- Willis on Shawn Davis: "Shawn has been real good to work with. He asks questions, he's always up front looking, listening. You can see how he's taking everything in, getting mental reps, asking questions. I only have been with him for a week and a half and I feel like I've known him a little bit longer than that. The more we continue to grow the more I'll be able to tell you. But as far as right now he seems very studious and very, very focused kid."
Hot Rod vs. Eddy Money?
The Colts signed kicker Eddy Pineiro, who spent the last two seasons with the Chicago Bears, earlier this month. He'll compete with Rodrigo Blankenship, but Reich said the competition won't be nearly as wide open as it was in 2020, when Blankenship beat out Chase McLaughlin to win the Colts' kicking job.
"Not quite like last year, it's open competition but Hot Rod, he's the incumbent," Reich said. "Everything has to be earned. Hot Rod had a good season for us last year, so that's obviously taken into consideration. He'll have to earn it again this year, but it is open competition."
Blankenship made 32 of 37 field goals (86.5 percent) with a long of 53 yards as a rookie in 2020. Pineiro spent all of 2020 on injured reserve, but in 2019 emerged from the Bears' kicking battle to make 23 of 28 tries (82.1 percent) with a long of 53 yards.
The Indianapolis Colts returned to the field for their seventh practice during OTAs.