INDIANAPOLIS — What's the latest in #ColtsCamp from the players' perspective? Hear from tight end Trey Burton, wide receiver Parris Campbell, defensive tackle/end Tyquan Lewis and linebacker Anthony Walker in today's edition of "Camp Chatter."
Tight end Trey Burton
» Burton has familiarity with Frank Reich, making his transition to the Colts "easy:" Reich became the Philadelphia Eagles' offensive coordinator in 2016, and Burton was one of his top tight ends for two seasons before Reich took the Colts' job and Burton signed a free agent deal with the Chicago Bears.
But in those two years in Philly, Burton came to realize just how important the tight ends were in Reich's schemes. In 2016, his first season under Reich, Burton was targeted a career-high 60 times, catching 37 passes for 327 yards and his first-career touchdown; the following year, Burton logged 23 receptions for 248 yards and five scores as a major piece to the Eagles' Super Bowl LII championship run.
Burton would go on to have the best season of his career in Chicago in 2018, catching 54 passes for 569 yards and six touchdowns, before enduring an injury-plagued season last year and ultimately being released by the team earlier this offseason. The Colts were happy to pick the veteran tight end up, and Burton said the transition back under Reich has been a smooth one.
"The tight end position has put up a lot of stats, really productive the last couple years with Frank and even when we were in Philly and before that," Burton said. "We're all well aware of that and we're excited to just do our part to help us win."
» Burton has been impressed early on with new quarterback Philip Rivers: Burton has had some relatively young quarterbacks throwing him the ball throughout his career, so when he signed with the Colts, he knew this time he'd be entering an offense with one of the more experienced quarterbacks in league history.
Signed by the Colts in March, Rivers is entering his 17th NFL season in 2020, and simply put: he knows how to grab control of the offense in any setting.
Burton, a former collegiate quarterback himself, can certainly appreciate that approach.
"The thing I'm most impressed by is just his control of the offense – just the ins and outs of everybody's position," Burton said of Rivers. "It's really impressive. Definitely animated, very serious at times, but also knows how to have fun."
Wide receiver Parris Campbell
» Simply put, Campbell is having fun again after an injury-plagued rookie season: Campbell had a little bit of hype surrounding him last year, when he was selected by the Colts in the second round out of Ohio State. While just about everyone on the team knew of his electric abilities with the ball in his hand — and his 4.31 40-yard dash speed — Campbell would go on to have an extremely frustrating rookie season.
Playing in just seven games, Campbell last year would be sidelined by injuries to his hamstring, abdominal area, hand and foot, and finished with 18 receptions for 127 yards and a touchdown.
Campbell worked hard to get back to full health this offseason, however, and considering the fact he is now much more comfortable with the playbook, he can just go out and play football and not worry about anything else heading into his second season.
"Every time I step on that field I thank God that I'm able to do things that I love," Campbell said. "very day I get to wake up and go to work and do something I love. Absolutely, I'm having a blast out there just being able to play freely, no injuries, no setbacks. It's definitely fun to just be out there again."
» Campbell has appreciated Rivers' fire through this point of camp: The young receiver doesn't need much motivation this season, especially after his injury-plagued rookie year. But he said the veteran Rivers adds "his own type of spark" that keeps everybody around him fired up and ready to go.
"I would say he's demanding excellence," Campbell said. "He's demanding just winning, period. Every time we step on the field with him, you can see that fire in his eyes in the huddle."
And while Campbell is yet to play an actual game with Rivers at quarterback, he's already got a good idea what that will look and feel like.
"Those practice reps, they seem like game reps when you're in a huddle with him," Campbell said. "You can just kind of feel his aura giving off that – just demanding excellence and just demanding and holding us at a high level."
Defensive tackle/end Tyquan Lewis
» After two injury-filled seasons to start his career, Lewis is feeling better than ever — in more ways than one: Lewis was looked at as the Colts' three-tech of the future when he was selected in the second round of the 2018 NFL Draft out of Ohio State, but he would miss the first half of his rookie season with a toe injury, and then last year he could never quite build any momentum due to an ankle injury.
All that missed time, all those missed opportunities, took a took on Lewis — both physically and mentally. But he said he made sure to take time this offseason to take care of both his body and his mind, and now?
"I'd definitely say this is the best I've felt physically," Lewis said. "This offseason gave me a lot of time to reflect on my body and things like that. Just doing the right things, eating right, coming out here – just changing the way I think and everything. This is definitely the best I've felt."
It has certainly showed through the first few training camp practices, as Lewis has certainly been one of the more consistently active defensive linemen.
» Lewis is able to be a versatile piece of front because he's a student of the game: While Lewis perhaps primarily is lining up inside for now, he's also been utilized plenty off the edge for defensive coordinator Matt Eberflus.
That kind of versatility can be extremely valuable, and Lewis knows it; that's why he said he's always tried to keep up on the responsibilities for every player on the field for the defense so that he's never caught flat-footed.
"Ever since like high school, I think, I've always written down every position for almost every player," Lewis said. "I take notes on everything. I just look over it consistently and I just get a good grasp of information. I take it and I just apply – go through it in my head before each play. That's basically how I apply it to the plays and to the game."
Linebacker Anthony Walker
» Walker compares new safety Tavon Wilson to a key defensive leader on the 2018 team: Wilson signed a free agent deal with the Colts one week ago, but he's already making quite the impression on his teammates.
He comes in already one of the most experienced players on the unit, with his 110 career games played; in his time with the Detroit Lions (2016-19) and New England Patriots (2012-15), Wilson has recorded 331 tackles (255 solo), 16.0 tackles for loss, 5.0 sacks, 19 passes defensed, eight interceptions (one returned for a touchdown), one forced fumble, six fumble recoveries and 26 special teams stops.
Walker said Wilson reminds him a lot of safety Mike Mitchell, who was a midseason pickup by the Colts in the 2018 season and was credited with bringing a much-needed veteran presence to the secondary, helping the unit play much better overall during Indy's run to the postseason that year.
Wilson already has a couple picks in practice, and has been a resource for the younger players, too.
"(Wilson is) a savvy veteran, a guy who understands the game to the smallest detail," Walker said. "Definitely happy to have him in our locker room right now. A lot of the young guys are learning from him, but he's a playmaker as well."
» Walker loves the competitive back-and-forth with Rivers: Rivers has been known to get under the defense's skin from time to time throughout his lengthy NFL career, but now that he's in Indy, while he's had his fun with the defense from time to time, Walker has appreciated Rivers' day-to-day approach.
"One thing I like (is Rivers) comes over before every team period at the beginning of practice – at the beginning of the first team period – and me and Darius (Leonard) are doing our handshake. He comes over, he does his handshake with Darius and does his handshake with me," Walker said. "So we understand that we're teammates first. This is great competition and everything like that, but we're trying to get each other better so we can go out there and execute on Sundays."
That being said, there are still some competitive moments between No. 17 and No. 54.
"We've had walk-thru battles," Walker said with a smile. "Going live in practice or whatever it is, me and him have our little trash-talk. We just give each other the eye like, 'You got us on that one, or I got you on that one.' It's always fun to see us go back and forth with each other."