INDIANAPOLIS — A couple days into the Indianapolis Colts’ 2018 training camp, wide receiver Zach Pascal had yet to stand out from the pack.
He was initially working near the bottom of the team’s wide receiver groupings, but once they began practicing in full pads, something switched on for Pascal. He began making tough, contested catches look routine — it was not uncommon to see him pry the ball away from one or two defenders — and then started ascending the depth chart.
Injuries to the Colts’ wide receiver corps have opened opportunities for several players, and Pascal has been one to take advantage. Making impressive plays in practice lessened as a surprise, then he began validating his playmaking ability in the Colts’ two preseason games.
In Week 1 against the Seattle Seahawks, he caught a beautiful pass over his outside shoulder for 32 yards. Then in front of a nationally-televised audience against the Baltimore Ravens on Monday night, Pascal made two more plays.
The first such play was late in the fourth quarter, the Colts down 20-13 and looking to make a comeback. Quarterback Phillip Walker threw a back-shoulder pass down the left side to Pascal for 17 yards to cut 3rd and 18 down to 4th and 1.
That drive resulted in a Colts interception, but Pascal would pick up where he left off on the following drive, scoring his first-career NFL touchdown on another impressive connection with Walker — this one from nine yards out. Pascal had to get separation from his defender, jump, adjust to the ball and made it down with both feet in bounds.
The score brought the Colts within one point of Baltimore, but they were unable to convert their following two-point attempt.
Despite putting some nice plays on tape Pascal is not yet satisfied. After all, with the team's cutdown from its 90-man roster to its 53-man regular-season version looming in just nine days, Pascal doesn't want to leave any stone unturned,
"I feel like I could've done way better," Pascal said. "I feel like there's always room for improvement.
“As far as me making plays in practice and camp, I'm just thankful for the opportunity the Colts are giving me, so I'm just trying to make the best of it.”
At this rate, “making the best of it” is going to put some serious visibility on Pascal’s game.