INDIANAPOLIS — The Indianapolis Colts today held their final training camp practice of the year at the Indiana Farm Bureau Football Center before Saturday's second and final scrimmage at Lucas Oil Stadium. What were some of the top takeaways from the day?
» The Colts returned to the practice field this morning after deciding to use Thursday to discuss and work towards making a lasting social impact and inspiring change in their communities. Today was the final actual training camp practice the team is scheduled to hold at the Indiana Farm Bureau Football Center. The Colts have their second of two practices/scrimmages at Lucas Oil Stadium tomorrow, followed by a day off for the players before officially beginning preparations for their Week 1 matchup against the Jacksonville Jaguars on Monday.
» The Colts had several returners at today's practice after multiple-day absences: fullback Roosevelt Nix, tight end Xavier Grimble, defensive end Ben Banogu, defensive tackle Taylor Stallworth and safety George Odum, who was wearing a red no-contact jersey. Among those not participating on Friday: wide receiver Zach Pascal, wide receiver Parris Campbell, cornerback Kenny Moore II, wide receiver Marcus Johnson and defensive tackle Sheldon Day.
» The opening 11-on-11 session ended with back-to-back completions to the Colts' top two draft picks this year: first, quarterback Philip Rivers found running back Jonathan Taylor all alone in the flat, and he sprinted up the sideline for a huge gain. On the next play, Rivers found wide receiver Michael Pittman Jr. — who had a nifty double move to evade cornerback Rock Ya-Sin — over the middle. Taylor would later add a 10-yard touchdown reception from quarterback Chad Kelly during a red zone drill.
» A fired up T.Y. Hilton made a nice, physical play to haul in a Rivers pass on a comeback route against cornerback Xavier Rhodes late in practice. Hilton caught the pass, stood still for a second and then chucked the ball out of bounds. Hilton and Rivers definitely seemed to be engaging in some healthy dialogue with Rhodes throughout today's practice.
» The Colts were adding in more situational work today. The second 11-on-11 session had the offense backed up to its own 1-yard line. A highlight included a Rivers completion of probably 20 to 25 yards to tight end Trey Burton, who created enough separation from linebacker Darius Leonard to not only make the catch, but have some room for some significant yards after the catch.
» Also in this situation, cornerback Tremon Smith had a nice play to disrupt a would-be reception by tight end Farrod Green over the top from Jacoby Brissett; the throw was very well-placed between three defenders, but Smith came in at the last second and knocked the football out for an incompletion.
» Safety Khari Willis had an exceptional effort to break up a would-be touchdown pass from Rivers to tight end Mo Alie-Cox in the front of the end zone. Working from the 10-yard line, Rivers' throw was right on the money to the big tight end, but Willis was able to poke the ball out of his grasp with one final effort as they went to the ground.
» There was a ton of communication today that could be overheard before the snap and after the play between the defensive players. While communication is a critical tool for any unit, defensive coordinator Matt Eberflus said it will be emphasized even more this year, particularly in the back end.
» If there's a break in the action, or a special teams drill going on, you can almost bet on Hilton working on something off to the side with new wide receivers coach Mike Groh. Hilton loves any sort of drill work that he can squeeze in five minutes at a time. Oftentimes he'll have offensive quality control coach Jerrod Johnson hanging onto one of his arms or using some other tactic to get in Hilton's way, but he still has to figure out a way to haul in the throw from Groh.
» Quarterbacks coach Marcus Brady got in on the action during QB accuracy drills today. Brady showed he's still got it by getting the ball into a few of the various nets set up all over the end zone. Of the four Colts quarterbacks, Brissett seemed the most on target on this day. Brady, by the way, had a seven-year career as a quarterback in the Canadian Football League with the Montreal Alouettes (2006-08), Hamilton Tiger-Cats (2004-05) and Toronto Argonauts (2002-03); he finished as Cal State Northridge's all-time leader with 1,036 completions, 1,677 attempts, 12,445 yards and 109 touchdowns.
See all the battles on the outside as the Indianapolis Colts wide receivers and defensive backs battled during training camp.