INDIANAPOLIS — The Indianapolis Colts continue their preseason schedule on Saturday, when they travel to take on the Dallas Cowboys.
But for Rob Chudzinski and the rest of the Colts' coaching staff, the team has entered an interesting part of training camp, when there remains a steadfast focus on the field to see improvement out of all 90 players on the preseason roster, but also looming large is the team's 2017 regular season opener against the Los Angeles Rams.
Asked Wednesday about that dynamic, Chudzinski acknowledged how important it is to have every possibility considered when his team takes the field Sept. 10 at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum. But Chudzinski said he'd be doing his players a disservice if that matchup took up too much attention at this point, when so much learning — not to mention competition — remains to be done across the board.
"This is the time in camp where you really get a chance to talk to the guys and really work on their fundamentals and technique and build those for the season," Chudzinski said Wednesday in his weekly session with the media. "This is the time of camp where guys separate and really find out who are those guys that you are going to be able to count on, who are the guys that are popping up out of nowhere that you might not have expected that you can hopefully trust and count on when the season comes around."
The Colts got their first in-game action of the season on Sunday against the Detroit Lions, but found several coachable moments, particularly on offense, in their 24-10 loss. The first-team unit had just 27 total yards, and zero points, in their three drives, while the entire team ran for just 52 yards on 18 carries (for a 2.9 yards-per-carry average).
On Saturday against the Cowboys, however, Chudzinski said overall growth remains the goal. Added production will naturally come as more players get exposed to more situations.
"I'd like to see us clean up," Chudzinski said. "We had a very simple, basic game plan that really was just base stuff that we were running. We had a number of guys who were here for two or three days going into that game and playing.
"I'd like to see growth from that perspective, of guys knowing what to do. It's not just knowing what to do, it's the how to do it," he continued. "So being more efficient in that way, and obviously cutting out some of the penalties and seeing the production show at the end of the day."
Here are more takeaways from Chudzinski's weekly session with reporters on Wednesday:
• On wide receiver Jacoby Brissett, Chudzinski said, "We need him to get back." Dorsett returned to practice on Tuesday after a hamstring injury led to him missing the past few days, as well as Sunday's preseason game against the Lions.
Dorsett has been the Colts' No. 3 wide receiver the past two seasons, his first two years in the NFL, but Chudzinski and head coach Chuck Pagano have discussed since the start of training camp how that spot is wide open for whoever wants it the most. Dorsett has responded with a strong performance in camp — until he suffered his recent injury.
Basically, Chudzinski said Wednesday, the more chances Dorsett can get out on the field — in practices and in games — the better off he is (which applies to anybody else competing for spots).
"There are certain things that we may do a particular day to really highlight certain guys and see how they are going to respond," Chudzinski said. "Today, we had a move the ball period and that was good, seeing who could push through things and who can think when they're tired and it's a hot day like it is today."
• The Colts also have a strong competition at tight end, something that has been accelerated in recent days when No. 2 tight end Mo Alie-Cox underwent a minor knee scope. With Swoope week-to-week, according to Pagano, the four other tight ends on the roster — not counting starter Jack Doyle — now find themselves fighting for No. 1 reps in the team's two tight end sets.
Among those ultimately in the running for the No. 3 spot at tight end is fifth-year veteran Brandon Williams, whose professional career has been highlighted more by special teams play than what he's done with the ball in his hands. In fact, entering the 2017 season, Williams has just six career NFL receptions for 80 yards in 45 career games.
Despite those figures, however, Chudzinski said Williams — who had a 20-yard reception in Sunday's game against the Lions — certainly isn't lacking in his pass-catching abilities.
"I think he's really improved in that facet of his game," Chudzinski said. "He's worked hard on that. We knew he was a strong guy and that he can block. He's shown improvement in the other area and we need that."
The analysis from those producing content on Colts.com does not necessarily represent the thoughts of the Indianapolis Colts organization. Any conjecture, analysis or opinions formed by Colts.com content creators is not based on inside knowledge gained from team officials, players or staff.