WESTFIELD, Ind. – After ramping up for six days, the Colts on Tuesday put the pads on for the first time in this year's training camp.
"It's always different, the intensity level, how things move around you, when there's actual contact," quarterback Matt Ryan said. "Football starts today."
Head coach Frank Reich thought Tuesday's practice – which focused primarily on installing red zone plays – was "clean" and "competitive." A few highlights:
- Linebacker Bobby Okereke had an active day with a pass break-up in seven-on-seven, and then another in the end zone when he swatted a ball out of tight end Mo Alie-Cox's hands during 11-on-11.
- Cornerback Brandon Facyson broke up a pass in tight coverage in an early one-on-one drill.
- In 11-on-11, linebacker Zaire Franklin blew up a run play, while cornerback Kenny Moore II stopped a quick pass to running back Jonathan Taylor for what looked like little or no gain.
- German defensive back Marcel Dabo picked off a pass during a seven-on-seven red zone period, while undrafted free agent linebacker Sterling Weatherford had a pass break-up in the end zone during 11-on-11.
- Some offensive highlights: Following a pump fake, Ryan hit wide receiver Michael Pittman Jr. for a deep completion in seven-on-seven, while running back Nyheim Hines' speed, acceleration and agility showed up on run and pass plays during red zone drills.
- Reich said the defense is usually ahead of the offense during the first padded practice, but commended the Colts' defense for its execution on Tuesday. Also notable is the Colts were installing red zone plays, which usually are schemed to beat a specific opposing defense in a given week. The Colts, then, aren't scheming plays they install to beat their own defense.
- Tuesday's practice ended with a best-of-three two-point conversion period, which the Colts' defense won – meaning the offense had to run.
One other observation from Tuesday's practice: During a special teams period, Ryan went up to wide receiver Alec Pierce on the sideline and had what looked like a detail-oriented discussion with the rookie.
- After chatting with Pierce and doing some ball-placement demonstrations, Ryan found the 2022 second-round pick twice for touchdowns in seven-on-seven.
- "There has to be an open dialogue," Ryan said. "If we're going to be the team we want to be, we've got to be accountable to each other, we've got to be open, honest and grow together."
- "He holds everybody accountable to the same standard whether you're the first guy on the depth chart or the last guy, everybody is held to that same standard," wide receiver Ashton Dulin said. "That just brings us all together as a room and it elevates everybody's game. He'll quiz you out of the blue at a random moment — walking down the hallway, what do you have on this play. It's fun. He's great to be around. Great leader, great person and we couldn't be happier to have him."
- Ryan has those discussions with everyone – wide receivers, running backs, tight ends, defensive players – and said those conversations are extremely important at this stage of the NFL calendar.
- "We've got to grow, and we've got to come together," Ryan said. "We can't wait. It's got to be now. And so every opportunity you get, you've got to take advantage of."
On Tuesday, the Colts put the pads on for the first time at 2022 Training Camp