INDIANAPOLIS — Indianapolis Colts quarterback Philip Rivers talked to the local media via video conference after Saturday's training camp scrimmage at Lucas Oil Stadium. What's the latest on his increasing rapport with T.Y. Hilton, his confidence running the no-huddle, being a versatile offensive attack and more?
You can listen to that entire session above, but here are some top takeaways:
» Rivers and T.Y. Hilton just continue to build better and better rapport: It can take some time for a new quarterback to get on the same page with his top wide receiver, as the two navigate the process of feeling each other out not only on the field, but in talking through various situations and approaches in the meeting room. When it comes to Rivers and his new top target, Hilton, however, it's almost as if they've been doing this for a while.
Rivers has constantly targeted Hilton each day since the wide receiver was able to return from the Non-Football Injury list a couple weeks ago, but that was especially apparent in Saturday's scrimmage at Lucas Oil Stadium — the Colts' final official training camp practice this year.
In all, Rivers connected with Hilton six different times on Saturday, including a 47-yard touchdown strike on a bomb down the sideline.
"The best receivers I have been around, they have a great feel for the game, and T.Y. has that, whether it be throttling on a route or being ready for a back shoulder or a little bit of that unspoken communication that you have that we can kind of get on the same page," Rivers said. "We've been able to have some of those type moments throughout training camp. That will only continue to grow."
» Whether running the normal offense or going at a faster tempo, Rivers has the full playbook at his disposal: Sometimes you'll see offenses simply things when they go into their no-huddle or hurry-up attack; for some quarterbacks, the best option is to let him pick from a small list of plays to minimize the time needed to process what's going on around him and focus on the task at hand.
That's not the case for Rivers, however, as he enters his 17th NFL season in 2020. Even if the pace picks up considerably, he's comfortable enough with his knowledge of the playbook, as well as with Frank Reich as a playcaller, to execute any pass or run call to take advantage of the defense.
The Colts showed much more of their hurry-up offense during Saturday's scrimmage, with Rivers connecting on his first six pass attempts. It remains a work in progress with the regular season now two weeks away, but the QB likes the work that's been put in, no matter what tempo the offense chooses to run.
"Frank always compared it to a boxing match. There are times you want to go on a flurry and throw punches, and there are times where you want to sit back and dance a little bit and then you go on another flurry. Then you go back to the corner, regroup and huddle up," Rivers said. "I think the ability to have all those tempos, to be able to change it up week-to-week, quarter-to-quarter, series-to-series can be another tool in our toolbox.
"The way our system is set up and certainly, my experience in it as well along with already a really smart football team is I think the whole playbook is open even in that (quick) tempo," Rivers said. "Sometimes, you go no-huddle and teams have a seven, eight-play package. I think we can run anything in the playbook from a no-huddle standpoint and that even makes it that much better."
» Along those same lines Rivers is confident in varying approaches on the ground and through the air: It's two weeks before the season opener, and every team across the league has optimism at this point. Rivers acknowledged as much on Saturday, but added a touch of realism: "There'll be some three-and-outs and some punts unfortunately throughout games at some point this year."
But, saying that, Rivers is getting the impression that he's heading up an offensive attack that can successfully go after a defense in multiple ways each week.
The Colts had one of the league's best rushing attacks last season, and returns every starting offensive lineman as well as three key running backs, and added another stud this offseason in Wisconsin's Jonathan Taylor. And, after an injury-plagued season a year ago at the wide receiver position, the Colts have health on their side heading into 2020, especially with the aforementioned Hilton as their top target.
Whether it's quick strikes or long, punishing drives, Rivers likes the versatility at his disposal.
"The name of the game is taking what the defense gives you and finding a way to get the ball in endzone. Whether it's a 12-play drive or two or three-play drive, but certainly feel comfortable pushing it down the field," Rivers said. "With our guys up front, they do a heck of a job in protection and the way our offensive staff – Nick (Sirianni) Frank (Reich) and the whole staff – tie the run and the pass game together, they marry everything together.
"I'm not suggesting that we'll not punt and not have any hiccups, but I do feel good about our ability to move the ball in any different number of ways – from run to pass to intermediate to dink-and-dunk to play-action and take shots," Rivers continued. "I think we'll be able to adjust as needed from game-to-game and week-to-week."