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Training camp notebook: Colts dial up physicality in first full week at Grand Park

The Colts were in full pads on Tuesday, and finished the morning's practice with a live contact period.


WESTFIELD, Ind. – Shane Steichen continued his intentional, steady build-up plan for the Colts with a full-padded practice Tuesday morning at Grand Park – one that ended with a full-team live contact period.

As in: Tackling was allowed.

For the most part, the players on the field for that live contact portion were rookies, including quarterback Anthony Richardson (who kept his red quarterback non-contact jersey on).

"(We) wanted to get the young guys in there live and see where they're at physically," Steichen said.

The Colts have methodically increased their players' workloads over the last week. Last Wednesday's camp curtain-lifter was a snappy one-hour practice mostly focused on red zone installs so players wouldn't have to run the length of the field on Day 1. After downshifting to a walkthrough on Thursday, the Colts ramped up activity again Friday and Saturday last week before an off day Sunday.

Then on Monday, the Colts practiced in shoulder pads; Tuesday's practice was the first with full pads of training camp.

"Really liked the intensity of practice," Steichen said. "And with anything – training camp gets harder and harder and harder, and how can we do hard better? That's what I told the team at the end of practice, that it's going to get hard and we have to do hard better."

While the Colts' focus has been on being smart with early-camp workloads, those five practices have been crisp – with very few operational mistakes – and competitive.

"I think it's a lot of fun when you compete and make it feel real," quarterback Gardner Minshew said. "These camps, they get long and these practices day after day. It's great to have the juice and competition, and the brotherly competitive spirit that we have going on out here. That makes it a lot of fun, and you need a little bit of that (expletive) talk to kind of get you woke up some days."

News, notes and observations from Tuesday's practice:

  • Quarterback Anthony Richardson was back, as expected, after missing Monday's practice following a procedure on his nose Sunday. He took all of the reps with the first-team offense after Minshew took those on Monday.
  • Steichen thought Richardson had a "solid day," with a highlight a well-layered throw with touch to tight end Mo Alie-Cox deep along the far sideline.
  • The Colts opened practice with three plays of goal line work for Richardson and Minshew apiece. Richardson began by throwing his first pass out of the end zone – after identifying nothing was open – before he handed off twice. Defensive tackles DeForest Buckner and Grover Stewart stuffed those run plays to keep the offense out of the end zone.
  • Minshew threw touchdowns on all three of his goal line plays, completing passes to wide receiver Josh Downs, tight end Kylen Granson and wide receiver Mike Strachan.
  • Linebacker Zaire Franklin set the physical tone for the second straight practice when full-field 11-on-11 began. The veteran diagnosed a run play and got downhill on it – and if it were in a game, it would've been a thumping hit in the hole.
  • Franklin later broke up a pass during an 11-on-11 period.
  • Linebacker Segun Olubi picked off Minshew for a pick-six and the first takeaway of camp for Gus Bradley's defense.
  • In seven-on-seven, Strachan came down with an impressive go-up-and-get-it grab, while Minshew found wide receiver Ashton Dulin for a deep completion down the far sideline.
  • Late in practice, Richardson threw accurately and on time to wide receiver Isaiah McKenzie and tight end Will Mallory for completions, while Minshew hit McKenzie for an explosive catch-and-run and showed nice touch on a completion to wide receiver Breshad Perriman.
  • Cornerbacks JuJu Brents (hamstring) and safety Julian Blackmon (hamstring) remained sidelined. "They're progressing well," Steichen said. "Hopefully, they'll be out there sooner than later but they're both doing a good job with the rehab."

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