INDIANAPOLIS — After an off day for the players on Tuesday, the Indianapolis Colts got back after it Wednesday with their seventh fully-padded training camp practice at the Indiana Farm Bureau Football Center. What were some of the top takeaways from the day?
» Today was the seventh of 11 scheduled fully-padded practices so far throughout training camp, and it was perhaps the muggiest day of camp. It's good for this Colts team to get used to those conditions, though, as it opens up its season on the road in Jacksonville on Sept. 13. The average high temperature in Jacksonville on that date is usually in the mid-80s, with about 90-percent humidity.
» The Colts had several guys returning to the field today after extended absences, including tight end Jack Doyle, running back Jordan Wilkins, cornerback Isaiah Rodgers and guard Chaz Green, who made his training camp debut after working his way back from an undisclosed injury. Also making his Colts debut was tight end Dominique Dafney, who was signed as a free agent just before the start of practice.
» The team announced that wide receiver Parris Campbell was involved in a minor car accident on Tuesday and is now in the league's concussion protocol. Also among those who also did not participate in Wednesday's practice: cornerback Kenny Moore II (groin), safety George Odum (unknown), fullback Roosevelt Nix (unknown), tight end Xavier Grimble (unknown), defensive end Ben Banogu (ankle), defensive tackle Taylor Stallworth (unknown), wide receiver Marcus Johnson (unknown) and defensive tackle Sheldon Day (knee). Long snapper Luke Rhodes, who has missed a little time of late but participated in Monday's scrimmage at Lucas Oil Stadium, was not wearing shoulder pads today, and did not participate in special teams drills.
» Today's practice seemed to have a clear theme offensively: throw the ball down the field. While we saw a little of that in Monday's practice at Lucas Oil Stadium, a good majority of those pass attempts were quicker throws, mostly to running backs and tight ends. But today, quarterback Philip Rivers seemed to make a concerted effort to get some bigger chunks down the field, stepping up in the pocket to find tight end Trey Burton on his very first pass attempt of 11-on-11 action and moving forward from there, with other notable big plays to Daurice Fountain and, later, Dezmon Patmon.
» Burton, by the way, was clearly a favorite target of Rivers' today — pretty much like the rest of camp. His highlights today included a nifty one-handed snag for a gain of about 20 yards.
» Rock Ya-Sin had a real solid, physical practice today. In 11-on-11s, he had a near pick early on stepping in front of a pass attempt to Burton, and then he had a real nice pass breakup on wide receiver Zach Pascal, who at first seemed to come down with the catch until Ya-Sin had a well-timed punch to knock the ball to the grass. Ya-Sin also had a really solid 1-on-1 rep against wide receiver Ashton Dulin, also earning a physical PBU on the play.
» Speaking of physical corner play, Xavier Rhodes had a big knock on rookie wide receiver Michael Pittman Jr. in a late 11-on-11 session, using a very well-timed hit to ensure an incompletion in the middle of the field. Rhodes has said the cornerbacks in this defense have to look at themselves more as linebackers in some instances, just because of the emphasis on tackling and being physical. It showed on that rep for sure.
» Denico Autry had a nice effort to jump up and knock down a Rivers pass attempt. The ball was knocked backwards and caught by … Rivers himself, who took off down the field for a brief moment. Rivers, for the record, technically has zero receptions in his previous 16 NFL seasons with the San Diego/Los Angeles Chargers, but has been credited with two targets and -9 receiving yards.
» Speaking of veterans catching passes, defensive end Justin Houston logged an interception during 11-on-11s today, as Rivers tried to find running back Jonathan Taylor on a high lob over the offensive and defensive lines. Houston read the play beautifully and was sitting right there to snag it, drawing loud cheers from his defensive teammates.
» In 7-on-7 action, Rivers found T.Y. Hilton on a little crossing pattern, and Hilton was able to outrace everyone to the sideline, where he seemingly went into another gear. Hilton clearly still has that burst that has made him one of the best big-play wide receivers in the NFL since he was selected by the Colts in the 2012 NFL Draft. Also in 7-on-7s, new cornerback Andre Chachere had a nice interception of quarterback Jacoby Brissett.
» In 1-on-1 drills pitting the wide receivers/tight ends against the cornerbacks/safeties, the pass catchers earned a 13-5 advantage. Second year wide receiver Artavis Scott had a couple nice reps against T.J. Carrie, while Xavier Rhodes continued chirping at Pittman Jr., on whom he forced two incompletions.
» First on the practice field by a longshot on Wednesday was Rivers, who was getting in some early sprints after a players day off on Tuesday. The 38-year-old vet has admitted he's never been a huge fan of stretching — "I touch my toes one time and throw one football and I am ready to kick it off," he told local reporters recently — but as a guy who has started 235 consecutive games heading into the 2020 season, he clearly knows how to get his body ready. "There is a time when I'm starting to feel that I need to bear down on that a little bit," Rivers said about buying into a few tweaks fitness-wise and nutritionally when he joined the Colts. "So there are some things there that we are doing. It's those things where – yeah, I don't want to go crazy and go, 'I'm going to be someone totally different than I've been.' I don't think that would serve well for me or the team. But where are some tweaks where this could be a little bit of an improvement? Maybe it allows you to be stronger in the last quarter of the season. I'm a little stubborn when it comes to some of that because thankfully I have been out there for 200-something in a row. I don't want to all of a sudden change that because physically I have been able to be out there every Sunday, but at the same time what makes me feel the best every Sunday and give myself a chance to perform the best I can for our team?"
» There was a new sign on display today; on the side of the indoor practice facility facing the fields, it reads: "Indianapolis Colts … Sacrifice: Give to gain … Aretas: Excellence through competition … Focus: Be here now."
» The Colts have two more practices at the Indiana Farm Bureau Football Center this week before wrapping up this portion of training camp Saturday with their second and final scrimmage at Lucas Oil Stadium.