WESTFIELD, Ind. — The Colts departed Grand Park on Wednesday after 20 practices up on 191st St. And as the team returns to 56th St. — after a trip to Detroit for Friday's preseason finale — they do so feeling some good vibes about where, collectively, they stand.
"Just reminding of the commitment that we made to each other here," coach Frank Reich said of his message to his team after Wednesday's practice. "We had some time here, we had clear vision of where we want to go, who we want to be and how we want to get there. We made a clear commitment to each other on how we were going to do that, that we were going to do whatever it takes to get there. Just reminding us of that message."
The Colts will head to Ford Field to face the Lions in Friday's preseason finale and before returning to the Indiana Farm Bureau Football Center next week, with the focus then shifting toward Sept. 12's season opener against the Seattle Seahawks.
But looking back, the Colts leave Grand Park having answered a handful of questions that popped up before or during training camp. Like:
The Colts also saw strong training camps from their 2021 rookie class (led by defensive end Kwity Paye), rising second/third-year players (like wide receiver Michael Pittman Jr., running back Jonathan Taylor, quarterback Jacob Eason and linebacker Bobby Okereke) and more established veterans (just picking five, which is not a comprehensive list: Wide receiver Zach Pascal, defensive tackles DeForest Buckner and Grover Stewart, linebacker Darius Leonard and cornerback Kenny Moore II).
And, too, the Colts leave Grand Park feeling good about where their depth stands, meaning there will be difficult decisions coming ahead of next Tuesday afternoon's deadline for rosters to be cut down to 53 players.
"We had a little bit of an extended stay. It was a great stay, really mission accomplished as far as what we wanted to do from this segment," Reich said. "It's great to be here in Grand Park. Our team loves being here in Grand Park. The volunteers, the whole setup here at this facility, the city of Westfield – this has been tremendous. Our players love it here. So, really good work. Get packed up here, get out of here, get ready to go play this last preseason game in Detroit to help us make some tough decisions that we're going to have to make to put this team together.
"Thankfully, it's going to be tough decisions."
Eason To Start Vs. Lions, Starters Will Be Held Back
Eason will start his second preseason contest of 2021 on Friday against the Detroit Lions at Ford Field, Reich revealed Wednesday. Reich added he'll go with the flow of the game to determine the rest of the plan for Sam Ehlinger and Brett Hundley.
Initially, Reich was leaning toward playing his starters on Friday but decided against it after talking to Lions coach Dan Campbell, who will not play his starters in the preseason finale.
"Most of our starters aren't going to play," Reich said.
But with those 20 practices at Grand Park — including two physical joint practices with the Carolina Panthers — Reich said he feels good about how prepared his team will be for Sept. 12's season opener against the Seahawks.
""I feel like we've gotten a lot of good physical work," Reich said. "Been here for four weeks, worked really hard. Did get some quality time, got practice, got two days of practice against the Panthers as well. So, I feel like physically we're in good shape."
Wentz, Nelson, Kelly Practice Again
For the third consecutive day, Wentz participated Wednesday in everything but full-team periods of practice while Nelson continued work in individual periods.
"(Nelson) looks good," Reich said. "He's handled the individual stuff that he's done well."
As for Wentz, Reich said: "It's been all positive. Feel very good about where he's at."
Both Wentz and Nelson have had "appropriate amounts of soreness," Reich said, and the next step for both will be going through multiple days in a row of full participation in padded practices.
"I think they're on a good track (to play Week 1) but there's no guarantees," Reich said. "I'm optimistic but again, this is all new to me, this kind of injury, this kind of stuff. I know if their mindset counts any for it, it makes me more optimistic but you've got to deal with the reality of the injury as well."
Center Ryan Kelly saw action in full-team periods for the second consecutive day.
- Safety Khari Willis and wide receiver Parris Campbell both had rest days on Wednesday.
- Wide receiver Mike Strachan returned to practice after missing Tuesday with a non-COVID illness.
- Defensive coordinator Matt Eberflus was back on Wednesday after an absence for COVID-19 related reasons.
- It was an active day for the Colts' pass defense: Linebacker Bobby Okereke, safety Julian Blackmon and safety George Odum all had interceptions; cornerbacks Kenny Moore II, Xavier Rhodes and Rock Ya-Sin all had pass break-ups, as did versatile defensive back Andre Chachere.
- A couple of offensive highlights: Quarterback Sam Ehlinger found wide receiver Dezmon Patmon on a deep shot and hit wide receiver De'Michael Harris for a catch-and-run on consecutive plays in 11-on-11; quarterback Jacob Eason connected with wide receiver T.Y. Hilton on a deep ball and, with a clean pocket, had time to find tight end Jack Doyle for a nice completion in 11-on-11, too.
They said it
"Just getting to know him a lot better and since we're working together, getting to see his work ethic and getting to see how much time and how much he invests into his body to be the best he can is pretty remarkable." - Quenton Nelson on his experience rehabbing with Carson Wentz
The Indianapolis Colts hit the field for their final training practice at Grand Park.