INDIANAPOLIS —The Indianapolis Colts on Tuesday hit the practice field for the first time since Sunday's 24-10 loss to the Detroit Lions to open up 2017 preseason play, but this time had some reinforcements.
Head coach Chuck Pagano on Monday hinted at the fact that several players who had been injured and missed recent practices, as well as Sunday's game, could make their return to the field early this week, which is exactly what happened for Tuesday's fully-padded session.
It was a hot, sunny day, but a productive one, Pagano said, as the Colts prepare for their next opponent: the Dallas Cowboys, whom they take on Saturday at AT&T Stadium.
"Nice and toasty – just what we needed coming off a game," Pagano told reporters after Tuesday's session. "Cleaned up the tape and got a good work day in today."
What were the takeaways from the Colts' 12th practice of the 2017 Training Camp?
- As previously mentioned, several players made their return to the practice field on Tuesday, including offensive linemen Joe Haeg and Denzelle Good. Pagano has discussed the importance of continuity when it comes to the offensive line, and with guys like Haeg, who has been playing left guard with the first unit, and Good, a key reserve at both guard and tackle, out of late, back and good to go, that goal becomes a little more tangible. The key now for the Colts will be getting center Ryan Kelly, who suffered an injured foot, back onto the field as soon as possible. Pagano said Monday Kelly was progressing well in his recovery, but there still was no immediate timetable for his return.
- Also making his return for the Colts on Tuesday was inside linebacker Jon Bostic, who was wearing a club-like cast on his hand to protect his surgically-repaired finger. It appears to be the same type of cast Darius Butler wore last year against the Houston Texans. Bostic didn't appear hampered by the cast, and was right back with the No. 1 defense for a good chunk of Tuesday's practice. He was joined at times by the rookie Anthony Walker, who is in place of Antonio Morrison, who continues to deal with an injury.
- Jacoby Brissett was back on the practice field Tuesday after missing some time due to a hamstring injury. Dorsett was having a strong camp prior to sustaining that injury.
- T.J. Green has only been playing safety now for four years (two years in college, and now is in his second year in the NFL), but on Tuesday, Pagano presented him with another challenge: giving cornerback a try. Green played a few reps at corner in Tuesday's practice — at least one of which where he was lined up against T.Y. Hilton — and while he said it was the first time he's ever even tried cornerback in his football career, he said he's all for whatever helps the team and gets him on the field.
- While the Colts were welcoming several players back with open arms, one notable player was absent from Tuesday's practice: safety Malik Hooker. The rookie "dinged his shoulder," according to Pagano, and was held out as a precaution.
OTHER PRACTICE MUSINGS
• Rookie running back Marlon Mack made his return to the practice field on Tuesday, after missing time last week with a shoulder injury. He also did not play in Sunday's preseason opener against the Lions. Mack's speed and big-play ability makes him a weapon — or, at the very least, a nice distraction — any time he's on the field.
• Donte Moncrief, who also has been dealing with a shoulder injury, spent the first portion of practice (stretching and positional drills) with the wide receivers, but then went inside the indoor training facility for the remainder of the session.
• Several offensive linemen were seen snapping with the team's three quarterbacks at the beginning of practice: Deyshawn Bond, Adam Redmond, Jack Mewhort, Haeg and Blake Muir. The Colts need depth at the position with Kelly, the starter, week-to-week with a foot injury, and with veteran backup Brian Schwenke still on the PUP list, also with a foot injury.
• Safety Andrew Williamson made a nice play to earn an interception off quarterback Phillip Walker early in 11-on-11s. The second-year Vanderbilt product was able to maneuver around the receiver and secure the pick right along the right sideline.
• Walker would redeem himself a few plays later, finding Marvin Bracy in the end zone on a well-placed ball — and on a well-run crossing pattern — for the touchdown.
• Quarterback Scott Tolzien got in a little groove in the middle of practice by targeting Hilton, who made big receptions on consecutive plays. Hilton was targeted just once in Sunday's preseason opener before he came off the field for good after a couple series, so one would imagine getting him involved Saturday against the Cowboys.
• Luke Rhodes has been everywhere for the Colts during camp. On Tuesday, however, Rhodes was seen rotating in with the No. 1 defense at inside linebacker, his natural position. The first-year William & Mary product has impressed Pagano, who mentioned Rhodes by name after Sunday's game, saying he "made plays."
• Bug Alert. Bug Howard continues to make plays during his first NFL training camp, and the wide receiver did it once again on Tuesday, diving to make a toe-dragging catch just at the goal line on the left sideline. Did he stay in-bounds? We'll leave that up to the coaching staff — and their eyes in the sky — to decide.**
The Indianapolis Colts today signed free agent wide receiver Justice Liggins and waived-injured running back Dalton Crossan. If Crossan clears waivers, he will revert to the Colts Injured Reserve List.
Liggins, 6-1, 210 pounds, most recently spent time with the Winnipeg Blue Bombers of the Canadian Football League before being released on June 16, 2017. He played in two preseason games with the Blue Bombers in 2017 and caught two passes for 30 yards and one touchdown. Liggins also returned one kickoff for 14 yards. He originally signed with Winnipeg on June 4, 2017.
Collegiately, Liggins played in 36 games (13 starts) at Stephen F. Austin and finished with 102 receptions for 1,166 yards and eight touchdowns. As a senior in 2016, he started 10 games and tallied 49 receptions for 641 yards and three touchdowns. In 2015, Liggins saw action in all 11 games (three starts) for the Lumberjacks and caught 31 passes for 318 yards and four touchdowns. He appeared in eight games in 2014 and compiled 19 receptions for 174 yards and one touchdown. As a true freshman in 2013, Liggins played in seven games primarily on special teams. He also caught three passes for 33 yards.
Chuck Pagano on rookie JoJo Natson's fearlessness as a kick returner:
"It's instincts, it's instincts. I'm not going to coach him not to run hard. It's hard to find a guy that will see a seam and go straight ahead no fear and dodge them. He's tougher than damn nails and they can't get a clean hit on him. His nickname is 'The Flea.' You can't touch the flea."
PLAYER QUOTE OF THE DAY
Vontae Davis on how he would evaluate the play of rookie cornerbacks Nate Hairston and Quincy Wilson:
"Well, you know, they listen. They are taking everything to the field. They are competitive. They work hard in practice. That's stuff you can't teach, you have to have that. I mean, those guys, they are working hard. They are scrappy. They are some young players that play with confidence and that's all you can ask for. Then it's just the learning curve, and can they grasp the defense and put it out on the field on Sunday on a consistent basis?"
TWEET OF THE DAY
CAMP SCHEDULE (all remaining practices closed to the public)
Wednesday, August 16
8:00-10:45 a.m. – Practice
Thursday, August 17
8:00-10:45 a.m. – Practice
Colts Training Camp 2017 - Practice Twelve - PRACTICE HIGHLIGHTS
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