WESTFIELD, Ind. – Frank Reich figured the crowd that assembled at Grand Park to watch the Colts practice on Saturday night was one of the biggest he's seen in his five years as head coach here. The stands and sidelines were packed with juiced-up Colts fans for a crisp, up-tempo practice – and players and coaches absolutely felt that energy.
"It felt like high school football again," smiled cornerback Isaiah Rodgers.
There were plenty of highlights from the practice, starting with one that's become familiar over the first few days of training camp: Quarterback Matt Ryan's connection with wide receiver Parris Campbell.
- Ryan and Campbell first connected on a well-timed, well-executed completion during seven-on-seven that displayed anticipation and detail from both players.
- Then, on consecutive plays during 11-on-11, Ryan found Campbell on a deep shot and an in-breaking route.
- Yesterday, Campbell talked about how his "bread and butter" meshes with Ryan's. Once again, we saw that on Saturday.
- "I mean, we have seen Parris Campbell absolutely light it up," wide receiver Michael Pittman Jr. said.
On defense, another guy who's made some flash plays early in camp did again Saturday: Cornerback Isaiah Rodgers.
- Rodgers had an impressive interception on a 50/50 jump ball early in practice in one-on-one work; later in the same period, he ran step-for-step with speedy running back Nyheim Hines across the field to break up a throw.
- The third-year cornerback also broke up a pass during seven-on-seven.
- Rodgers' growth since joining the Colts as a sixth-round draft pick in 2020 has been steady from Year 1 to Year 2 – and in 2021, Rodgers' 72.2 passer rating allowed when targeted ranked 13th among cornerbacks with at least 300 coverage snaps, per Pro Football Focus. He made a handful of plays during OTAs and minicamp this spring, and those've carried over to training camp.
- "I think it's just a confidence thing for him," Pittman said. "He's always been that (playmaker) — he's super fast and he can make up any type of separation. And he's just learning to use that in the base way possible for his style of play. I think we're just seeing him finally just be him."
Other observations and notes from Saturday's practice:
- Cornerback Brandon Facyson picked off a pass during one-on-ones and, like Rodgers, has had an impactful camp so far. Notable: Facyson, a five-year veteran of Gus Bradley's scheme, is constantly having conversations with and demonstrating technique to his teammates when he's off to the side during practice.
- "I told those guys, anything they need from me, I'm not one to keep it to myself," Facyson said. "I'm just not that type of person. I want all of us to be great and at the end of the day, anything they need from me, they can ask me any type of question and I'll try my best to put it in terms of how we can just mold together and be an amazing defense."
- Wide receiver Alec Pierce opened practice with impressive separation that led to a downfield reception in one-on-ones. "He's a smart kid and he's not really messing up," Pittman said, "which is really great for a guy that young going up against Kenny Moore Stephon (Gilmore)."
- Pittman battled Gilmore and came down with a 50/50 ball during seven-on-seven.
- Ryan took off and scrambled a couple of times, a reminder that he's not a statue in the pocket. Last year, Ryan rushed 40 times – his highest total since 2010 – and gained 82 yards; for context, Philip Rivers rushed 97 times for 89 yards over the final six seasons of his career.
- Quarterback Nick Foles found wide receiver Ashton Dulin for a diving catch over the middle during a late 11-on-11 period.
- Tight end Mo Alie-Cox left practice after tweaking his knee in a collision with Gilmore. Reich said he didn't think the issue was serious and that Alie-Cox left practice more to be safe.