The Blue and White Game

Cass reports from training camp…

  • First of all, Anderson University appears to be a great place to hold training camp. Aside from it being around 1.5 hours closer to my house than Rose Hulman (which is a huge plus), it has a great layout for the practice field with huge bleachers on both sides of the practice field. You can also get a good viewpoint from just about anywhere in the bleachers. On a less bright note, unlike Rose Hulman, the Anderson site doesn’t offer much shade, especially in the bleachers area. I would highly suggest that anyone who goes there brings a hat, sun tan lotion, and at least a couple of drinks unless you’re willing to shell out $2 for bottled water. At least they have a couple of giant fans and a mist spray at their cooling station. Oh, and the student workers weren’t overly obnoxious today like they typically are. Maybe I just caught them on a good day.
  • If you want a decent chance at the autograph tent (5 players sign there for 30 minutes after the morning practices), you will need to get to Anderson University and in line between 6:00 and 6:30. As long as you have someone who can hold your spot in line (bring lawn chairs), you can still see the whole practice.
  • Because the scrimmage itself involves very little special teams, McAfee and Lindholm got most of their day’s work done during warm-ups. In case you didn’t know yet, McAfee is a beast and is continuing to get better. After warming up, he was able to boot punts from his own goal line all the way to the opponent’s 25 yard line with a decent enough hang time. No offense to Hunter the punter, but I never remember him being able to do something like that.
  • McAfee also got some FG work in warmups. For those of you who had hope that McAfee could be a decent backup placekicker or be used on long FG’s, you could possibly get your wish. After going through the normal FG progression, McAfee proceeded to absolutely drill a 60 yard and 62 yard FG with a few yards to spare. Those got quite a few cheers out of the crowd. Lindholm, however, looked fairly inaccurate during his FG progression.
  • Players that I noticed not practicing today: Charlie Johnson, McClendon, Ugoh, Diem, Clark, Garcon, Session. Diem was excused because his wife had a baby, and the rest are either injured or held out for precaution.
  • Got to meet Phil B in the stands. He’s as nice a person as you’d think he’d be from reading his blog. Great guy.
  • The practice is set up as the 1st team offense vs. 1st team defense for one series and it then alternates to the 2nd team after that series.
  • As far as I could tell, the starting offensive line for the 1st team was Jeff Linkenbach-Jamey Richard-Jeff Saturday-Mike Pollak-Adam Terry. I’m pretty sure that this is a sign of the apocalypse or something.
  • This scrimmage did not start well for Peyton. A couple of plays in, he throws a short pass over the middle and completely neglects to see Gary Brackett streaking through that same spot on the field. Gary caught the ball with ease and strolled into the endzone for a pick-6. Not to take anything away from Gary who made a great read to grab that INT, but that one was solely on Peyton. That ball should have never been thrown.
  • On the bright side, when you watch Peyton going to the sideline after that type of play, you can see him cursing himself and getting animated. It’s nice to know that the players really take this seriously and don’t just brush this off as a meaningless scrimmage.
  • It could be that he’s working with the 2nd team, but Curtis Painter looks really awful. He begun his awfulness by almost immediately throwing a pick to Mike Newton, an undrafted safety from Buffalo. It was a nice catch, but both Painter and the intended receiver (didn’t catch who) screwed up the play.
  • That offensive line that I mentioned above is really, really bad. Peyton probably would have gotten sacked on 2/3 of the plays in the scrimmage almost immediately. Good thing Freeney and Mathis have great control. Oh, and the pass rushers looked great.
  • Everybody on the starting defense was out on the field except for Session. It was good to see for once.
  • Hayden looked completely recovered and fluid in his coverages.
  • The defense was forced to call a TO at one point because Wheeler didn’t know what the heck he was doing or where he was supposed to be. I know it’s only training camp, but that’s not exactly encouraging.
  • Taj Smith and Gijon Robinson ended up getting a lot of work with the first offense.
  • Peyton threw a couple trick plays in the middle of the scrimmage. One of them was a simple end-around to Taj Smith. Later on, Peyton did a nice fake handoff to the right and handed the ball off to Collie, who turned it into an end-around to the left. Both were moderately successful (5-7 yards).
  • While I know that you want to hear about exotic defensive coverages that the Colts were trying out, the simple fact is that they didn’t try any. They stayed in a base 4-3 all game, and I can’t even remember them going to a nickel coverage.
  • Peyton had 3 shots at the end zone from memory. One was his patented fade route to the right side. He threw it perfectly (it would still be a difficult catch), but the problem was that Gijon was the one trying to catch it. He didn’t really come close. The next one was along the back line of the end zone to Reggie. Reggie laid out for it and got 2 hands on the ball, but it slipped through and hit the ground. Would have been a great catch. On the last one, the ball just sailed out of the back of the end zone with no real target in mind.
  • Painter threw 2 more interceptions over the course of the game. Both balls were tipped by the receiver and caught by Mike Newton again. Newton is definitely a guy to watch in preseason. If he shines in a couple of the games, he could find his way onto the roster. We could use a backup safety anyway.
  • Vinny was awful today. He has all of his leg strength back, but he needs to work on his accuracy. He made his first FG, a 30 yarder, but hooked two 40 yard FG’s, one left and one right. I am back to not being confident about our kicking situation, although it could have just been a bad day for Vinny.
  • Please pray that we never have to rely on Garrett Lindholm to kick off for us. His one try during the scrimmage barely made it to the 20 yard line! Baby J returned that kick to the 40.
  • Brody Eldridge can catch. Really well. He got a couple looks from Peyton, and the ball just stuck to his hands like glue. He was a great find.
  • Addai and Brown got work with the first team offense. Hart and the others were relegated to the second team. Every running play basically netted 1 or 2 yards because of that horrible line I mentioned.
  • Painter’s one good play of the day was a 30 yard pass to Taj Smith who was being covered by Townsend (the new signing from the Steelers) in a similar way to how Tim Jennings covers people. As Phil B said to me, think of that whenever people start getting hyped up about Townsend and remember that there was a reason that the Pittsburgh secondary sucked last year and he’s suddenly available now. We can use him as depth because we’re sorely lacking in it, but I don’t want to see him anywhere near the starting lineup.
  • Kevin Thomas was one of the players in the autograph tent today (along with basically all the draft picks). What’s most surprising about that is that he didn’t even have a knee brace on. The only thing there is a vertical scar right below his right knee where I assume they operated (no noticeable swelling). He also didn’t walk with any limp that I could see. He was also rather cheerful and upbeat while signing autographs and said that he’s still rehabbing and “getting better every day.” I’m not a doctor, but he doesn’t look like somebody who’s going to go on IR.
  • Robert Mathis was nice enough to drop by the line for the autograph tent and sign for quite a few people, including me. Always nice to see the players accommodating the fans.
  • If you’re going to camp looking for a Peyton autograph, you’re most likely out of luck. Whenever Peyton goes anywhere to sign stuff, you can hear screams from a few hundred yards away and literally everybody in the camp swarms him. You have to be lucky enough to be in the spot Peyton goes to before Peyton goes there.

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