INDIANAPOLIS – With the rain finally stopping in the Circle City, the Colts headed back outside for practice on Thursday.
The Colts (4-2) will hold one final practice on Friday before full attention turns away from the practice field and towards Sunday against the Bengals (3-1-1).
Here are a few headlines from Greg Manusky and Pep Hamilton meeting the media on Thursday:
Pep Hamilton on the play and growth of T.Y. Hilton:
"You evolve by playing in games. The intensity and the play speed that you are up against in the games is so different than practice.
"His football instincts are off the chart."
Bowen's Analysis:* *Hamilton loves the line of "you evolve by playing in games." The question was focused on specific improvements from Hilton since last season and Hamilton points to simply more game reps.
The "football instincts" part stuck out to me. Hilton's speed is unquestioned but he continues to show his completeness as a receiver. In just 37 career games, Hilton's receiving numbers are some of the best in Colts history. The combination of Hamilton's assessment and Hilton's physical traits places No. 13 as a current, and future, star with the Colts.
Pep Hamilton on what stats he looks for (besides points scored) to indicate how successful his offense is:
"If there's a specific area outside of scoring points that's really important, we've got to do a better job of protecting the football.
"We can't have the pre-snap penalties. Those are the ones we can control."
Bowen's Analysis: Whenever Hamilton gets asked about the type of identity he wants from his offense, the Colts offensive coordinator always reverts back to the "score first" mentality. This question was prefaced on taking points out of the equation. "Efficiency" was the answer from Hamilton.
This offseason the Colts offense knew in order to improve, converting third downs was something that had to improve. Right now the Colts sit in eighth place in third-down conversions (45.2 percent, up eight percent from last year). Going forward, Hamilton alluded to a pair of facets that the offense needs to clean up to continue to rank among the league's best.
Greg Manuksy on the Colts defense forcing turnovers and winning field position:
"All those years with (former Chargers head coach) Marty Schottenheimer, it was field position and turnovers. If you win that battle, chances of you having a victory are very successful."
Bowen's Analysis: It's pretty remarkable to look at last year's turnover ratio rankings and see the Colts in third despite having the 13th most takeaways (obviously ranked 1st in fewest giveaways).
Fast forward to 2014 and the defense has come up with 12 turnovers already, a number that is on pace for 32 takeaways (which would have been good for third in the NFL last year). Don't overlook the field position factor either with the defense ranking first in the NFL in third-down conversions allowed (29.7 percent).
Here's the injury report from Thursday's practice:
-DNP: Darius Butler (ankle) and Erik Walden (rest)
-That's two missed days in a row for Butler after he did not play against the Texans.
-LIMITED: Mike Adams (ankle), Arthur Jones (ankle) and Hugh Thornton (back)
-For the second straight day, Jones is limited. Does he need a full participation day on Friday in order to see his first game action in a month this weekend?
-FULL: Gosder Cherilus (knee), Jack Mewhort (ankle) and Reggie Wayne (rest)
-After missing the last two games, Mewhort has practiced every day this week.