INDIANAPOLIS – A two-hour practice on Tuesday afternoon kicked off the Colts three-day mini-camp to close out the team's offseason program.
The mandatory mini-camp this week is an extension of OTAs, with players still participating in shorts and helmets.
Here are some takeaways from the Colts opening mini-camp practice of 2015:
Day One Mini-Camp Notes
-A consistent T.Y. Hilton was Mr. Reliable on Tuesday. The repertoire of Hilton included a variety of different routes on Tuesday, as he had well over a half dozen catches during 11-on-11 work.
-A deep, sideline connection between Andrew Luck and Donte Moncrief was the offensive highlight on Tuesday. A Darius Butler interception and "return" brought the most chatter from the defensive players.
-Rookie defensive backs D'Joun Smith and Clayton Geathers saw plenty of work on Tuesday, often out there in obvious passing situations (nickel and dime packages). Chuck Pagano said after practice that having NFL officials at these practices should help the rule changes young defensive backs face in making the jump from college.
-The offensive line stayed consistent to what we've seen in recent weeks with Jack Mewhort at right tackle (Joe Reitz filled in later on in practice) as Gosder Cherilus continues to rehab.
-After missing a few of the Colts open OTAs, Bjoern Werner was back working during the individual period of Tuesday's mini-camp session. Speaking of the outside linebacker position, Cam Johnson received some first-team work on Tuesday and will definitely be in the mix for a roster spot at one of the Colts deepest positions.
-Owner/CEO Jim Irsay and Vice Chair/Owner Kalen Irsay were present at Tuesday's mini-camp practice.
Chuck Pagano on the outside expecations for 2015:
"We can't get caught up in what people are saying about us. As soon as we do that, you start getting comfortable and you stop progressing, stop growing."
Bowen's Analysis: It's a story line that any team should be happy to have heading into a season. Many pundits' outside expectations for the Colts fall right in line to how those inside of the Indiana Farm Bureau Football Center have always thought.
Will the Colts react any differently in 2015 being the "hunted" versus the "hunter"? As the expectations for the Colts have grown, Pagano has kept his team even keel with three straight 11-win campaigns. I don't think there's any question that the Colts will be a popular Super Bowl contending pick as more and more season previews debut in the coming weeks/months.
Frank Gore on how he's maintained his production at age 32:
"I like to train with younger guys just to keep myself honest. Training with younger guys, if I'm looking better then them, I should have a great shot at having a good year."
Bowen's Analysis: After missing some of the recent OTAs, the Colts starting running back was back participating on Tuesday. Full pads won't come on until Training Camp, so Gore was relegated to showing off his array of skills in shorts and a helmet.
This quote from Gore is very telling to how the 10-year vet has produced at such an elite level, despite his age. Chuck Pagano talked after Tuesday's practice how the reason the head coach believes Gore has been successful is because the "offseason is a nightmare" for the Pro Bowl back. The Colts will be smart with the reps for the 32-year old Gore, as they lean on him to be their lead back.Andrew Luck on practicing in front of the fans on Wednesday at Lucas Oil:
"It'll be great to be in front of the fans. It'll be great to be at Lucas Oil. It's been a longtime for all of us since being on the field. Nice for the fans to come and watch."
Bowen's Analysis: The roof will be closed and the lights will be on inside of Lucas Oil Stadium tomorrow afternoon. It's a bit of a change of pace for the Colts as they get back inside of their home stadium and in front of their fans on Wednesday for a practice starting at 5:30 and expected to run around two hours.
On a similar topic, Chuck Pagano said in his Tuesday press conference that the Colts are in talks with another NFL team about the possibility of having some joint practices during Training Camp. This has been a popular method for NFL teams in recent years and Pagano said on Tuesday he's a proponent of what can be accomplished in such settings.