INDIANAPOLIS — What's the latest in #ColtsCamp from the players' perspective? Hear from cornerbacks T.J. Carrie and Rock Ya-Sin in today's edition of "Camp Chatter."
Cornerback T.J. Carrie
» Able to play inside and outside, Carrie takes pride in the challenges at nickel cornerback, especially: Carrie has lined up all over the secondary as he enters his seventh NFL season in 2020, but he really embraces the added challenges and responsibilities in the nickel cornerback spot.
In fact, Carrie has averaged more than 350 snaps per season lined up in the slot over his six-year NFL career, including 326 snaps with the Cleveland Browns last season.
So when Kenny Moore II went down with a groin injury earlier this week, the team feels very comfortable plugging a veteran like Carrie into that extremely important nickel corner role.
"I've been playing a lot in the slot. I just like the versatility that you can do in there," Carrie said. "There are a lot more plays that actually get your number called, a lot of blitzes. There are a lot of zone coverages where you're allowed to steal certain coverages within the offense."
"The more you can do" is a constant theme for all kinds of longtime NFL veterans, and Carrie certainly fits in that mold.
"I think definitely inside has been a unique mix that I have kind of enjoyed playing throughout my career, but I love bumping outside as well depending on teams that we play," Carrie said. "I think that being able to do some things both in and out – I just like the versatility so I continue to try and sharpen my skills at both."
» Carrie enjoys being an active participant in the team's kicking competition: Most NFL kicking competitions are pretty cut-and-dry: whoever makes the most kicks in practices and preseason games gets the job heading into the regular season.
But 2020 has been anything but ordinary, which is reflected in the Colts' kicker competition between Rodrigo Blankenship and Chase McLaughlin.
Without any preseason games and those all-important "live" reps, and the pressure that can bring, Colts head coach Frank Reich and his staff have tried to come up with creative ways to get the most out of the competition — even getting the rest of the team involved.
At camp practices, Nos. 1-49 are attached to one kicker, and Nos. 50-99 are attached to another, and whichever kicker doesn't "win the day," his group has to run sprints in the middle of practice. Saturday was actually the first time that Nos. 1-49, which includes Carrie, had to run this camp.
"It's definitely unique," Carrie said of involving the team into the kicking competition. "You kind of take those things for granted. We had that competition these whole two or three weeks we've been in camp and I think we've had to run maybe five times. Today was the first so I was like, 'Dang, man,' but great kicking competition.
"I think that (McLaughlin) and (Blankenship), they are doing a tremendous job competing against each other, and I think for us as players and teammates we embrace the competition," Carrie continued. "We cheer both of them on because at the end of the day whatever happens we're going to need on or the other and hopefully we can keep both, but in the nature of this business we don't make those decisions. It's always an aim to push one another and to definitely have fun with it."
Cornerback Rock Ya-Sin
» Ya-Sin admitted to being "blind" at times as a rookie, but that's changed heading into Year 2: Picked 34th overall in the second round of last year's NFL Draft, Ya-Sin would go on to play more than any other Colts defender his rookie year. He had what could be considered a pretty normal first season for a player at the cornerback position: lots of ups and lots of downs, but all in all each rep turned out extremely valuable.
Now into his second training camp, Ya-Sin said he's learned to "just count on your preparation, kind of knowing what to expect."
"I feel like coming in last year, you were blind – you've never been through a training camp and have never played through in NFL season," Ya-Sin said. "Now, I kind of know what to expect.
"I just didn't know what I was seeing," Ya-Sin continued when asked if by being "blind," he meant he didn't know what he was seeing or if he didn't fully trust himself. "You just haven't seen it before. Watching film and seeing things on film are different than actually experiencing it in a game. You can watch a million drive high lows on film, but actually seeing it and reacting to it in a game – it's different. Seeing that before now will help me this year being able to react to things faster."
» Facing Philip Rivers in practice every day is giving Ya-Sin quite the education: Sometimes when you're playing against the same teammates in practice day in and day out, things can get quite monotonous. At times, they know what you're going to do, and they know what you're going to do.
But now that Rivers has been brought in to be the Colts' new starting quarterback, it opens up a brand new resource for a young defender like Ya-Sin, who can study one of the game's greatest passers in an up-close-and-personal setting.
"He's seen everything. He's seen every coverage. You can't really fool a guy who has been playing for 16 years. You can't fool him," Ya-Sin said of Rivers. "He knows how to throw receivers open. He's made every throw a million times over so he knows how to throw his receivers open. Even if you have tight coverage, you have to go that extra step to get the ball out sometimes. Sometimes he's going to throw guys open, they are going to catch the ball and you have to get it out late to force incomplete passes. You can't fool him, he is a really smart quarterback.
"He has a nice accurate arm," Ya-Sin continued. "It's just making all of us better on the defensive side of the ball."