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Colts Training Camp Practice Notes: Why A Jacob Eason Check Down Stood Out To Offensive Coordinator Marcus Brady

The Colts held their eighth training camp practice of 2021 on Friday. Here's everything you need to know about the day's action at Grand Park. 

WESTFIELD, Ind. — The biggest thing Colts offensive coordinator Marcus Brady looks for in a young, inexperienced quarterback is how he recognizes things before and after the snap. 

"When we're watching film, we're asking before the play even starts like, 'What do you see?'" Brady said. 

That could be the defensive front's alignments, the width of the safeties or a number of other things. Being able to recognize those things will help a quarterback better process what's in front of him pre and post-snap. 

So with that in mind, a play quarterback Jacob Eason made that may have looked mundane to the naked eye actually stood out to Brady during Friday's practice. 

"One of the plays today we were most excited about is how quick he got to the check down to the (running) back," Brady said. "We didn't get the right coverage, he got to the back and the back had space to get a big gain. Once quarterbacks start realizing that and they can get to their progressions faster and understand if it's not clean, get it off to your back. Six, seven, eight yards, that's going to keep moving — if it's not moving the chains it's going to put us in easier downs."

Granular stuff like that check down will all be part of the progress Colts coaches want to see out of Eason as he runs the first-team offense with Carson Wentz (foot) out. There were some other good moments for Eason on Friday — like a zippy strike through traffic to Zach Pascal for a touchdown in 11 on 11 work — but there are plenty of little things that go into making a successful quarterback, too. 

"Some of these coverages that Flus (Matt Eberflus) is throwing out are new to them," Brady said of his young quarterbacks. "Now that they are seeing it, they are able to recognize it, even some pre-snap and it's just quickening up their reads."

Getting up to Speed

Third-year linebacker E.J. Speed has taken full advantage of the opportunity he's got in the "hot spot" of the Colts' defense with Darius Leonard (ankle) out during the early portion of training camp. Speed, playing will linebacker, has had a number of pass-breakups over the last week and a half at Grand Park, including two in 11 on 11 work during Friday's practice. 

Leonard, of course, is the Colts' starter at will when he returns. But defensive coordinator Matt Eberflus mentioned the need for good depth at that spot, since when Leonard missed time in 2020 Anthony Walker — who signed with the Cleveland Browns as a free agent earlier this year — slid over to will, with Bobby Okereke taking over for Walker at mike. 

So Speed's strong start to camp certainly is helping bolster the team's linebacking depth. But Speed, too, may compete with Zaire Franklin for reps at sam linebacker when Leonard gets back on the field.

"(Speed's) length being the way it is — Darius is the same way — they do get their hands on a lot of footballs in that area, because a lot of routes and route concepts are thrown in that area," Eberflus said. "That's why we call it the hot spot. … He's really good at that technique, we're excited about where he is."

Grover a monster in the interior

One of the most consistently impressive players over the Colts' first eight training camp practices has been defensive tackle Grover Stewart, who's wrecked plenty of run and pass plays at Grand Park. The fifth-year veteran had 27 run stops in 2020, per Pro Football Focus, good for eighth-most among NFL defensive linemen. 

And if the early stages of training camp are any indication, Stewart just might have another gear in him in 2021. 

"Grover is a special guy. His effort is his mainstay and what he hangs his hat on," Eberflus said. "And Grover really is taking over that spot and is a force in there."

Quick hits

  • Safety Julian Blackmon exited practice with a knee issue.
  • In Blackmon's place stepped Andre Chachere, who's listed as a cornerback but has the flexibility to play outside corner, nickel and safety. "He's a versatile athlete, and that's something you look for in the bottom part of your roster," Eberflus said. "If you're not the one, two but if you're the three, four, five at that position you gotta have that position flex and that's what he has. He's done a good job." 
  • There were some really fun red zone one-on-one reps between wide receiver Michael Pittman Jr. and cornerback Kenny Moore. Both players had a win, with Pittman snagging a touchdown on one and Moore swatting away the throw on another. 
  • The Colts were not in pads on Friday but will hold padded practices Saturday and Sunday at Grand Park. 

They said it

"I just try to trick myself into thinking I'm a cheetah. And I just try to run as fast as I can until I get tired." - Defensive end Ban Banogu on how he's consistently played fast in training camp

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