Colts Finish First Session of OTAs: Notes from Wednesday’s Practice

Fun story: I wrote out this entire piece long-form and had it all nice and pretty looking with a lot of extra comments and analysis… and then my laptop overheated and everything died and went to be with all the other pieces I've lost over the years in Blogger Purgatory. 

Normally, I'd sit down and re-write it, as I'd put the thought in and whatnot already, I just need to re-type everything. But seeing as how it's now 2 AM and I'm still recovering from the Pacer's choke job in Miami, you're just going to get the notes without a lot of long form analysis. It's probably better this way anyway. How much of that analysis means anything when we're talking OTAs? 

Don't answer that. It might depress me. 

Anyway, on to the notes. 

The first thing out of everybody's mouths (and/or Twitter accounts) after Wednesday's practice was the impact of Greg Toler, who apparently was making quite a few plays. 

I don't have to tell you how much a healthy, impactful Greg Toler will improve this secondary. The corner position in particular is thin, and Toler's ability to stay on the field and carry the load of a full-time starter (for the first time in his career) will be critical. 

Tom James compared Toler to Jerraud Powers after the day, noting the differences in their builds: 

There are no pads or anything as of now, but Toler's activity is encouraging at this point. 

Another corner who got mentioned by name was undrafted free agent Daxton Swanson.

Swanson, along with fellow UDFA Sheldon Price, had a good rookie mini-camp, and both look to be possibilities for one of the final roster spots at cornerback. 

Cassius Vaughn and Josh Gordy both are replaceable, and could be overtaken by one of the UDFA corners in camp. To Vaughn's credit, he had his own impressive play today, and has the advantage of playing a surprisingly high amount of snaps in 2012. I'd put money on Josh Gordy if anybody to be replaced by a rookie corner. 

Andrew Luck had himself a pretty decent day in red-zone drills, throwing touchdowns to a variety of targets on the day. 

But, it wasn't all good for the second-year quarterback, who was intercepted by newcomer LB Kelvin Sheppard in those same drills. 

While the 4:1 ration is more than acceptable for Luck, red zone performance is something to keep an eye on as we go through camps and the preseason. The 11-on-11 redzone drills are a camp favorite, and considering the Colts' relative struggles there last season (21st in the league in TD %), they certainly will be working on it. 

I expect significant improvement, with Luck's development and the overall efficiency of the scheme rising with Hamilton's changes, but will be keeping an eye out for it all the same. I'll have a piece up tomorrow (WARNING: BLATANT SELF PROMOTION ALERT) about Luck and other QB's red zone performance in 2012, so be on the look out for that too. 

Several Colts were not practicing today, for various reasons. For that information we go to the always dependable Mike Chappell: 

Personal Soap Box Note:

I'm not a huge fan of new comers like Landry and Thomas skipping OTAs (yes, I'm aware Thomas was at previous sessions this week). They're new to the team and I'd prefer them to take every chance they had to familiarize themselves with their teammates, coaches, playbook, etc. 

It's not a huge deal. It's a personal preference thing. 

I'd prefer them to be there. They'd obviously prefer not to be. I don't think it's asking much to swing by Indianapolis for a couple of weeks during the summer after the contracts that both of those guys got signed to, but I digress. 

It's only OTAs, after all. 

/end soap box rant

There are a few very nice videos on concerning the practice, with interviews with Cory Redding, Andrew Luck, Bjoern Werner and Antoine Bethea among them. Here are a few notes from the interviews:

  • Redding says he was very impressed with some of the young players on defense, namely Toler, Bjoern Werner, Montori Hughes, and Josh Chapman. The most surprising name drop though? C.O. Prime, the undrafted free agent linebacker from Canada, who was one of the first names Redding mentioned. 
  • Redding also mentioned that the Colts' energy was incredibly high this week and that Chuck Pagano actually had to calm the players down during OTAs. Luck mentioned the same thing, regarding the energy on the team. 
  • Luck says he likes that his group of running backs play with a "chip on their shoulder," specifically mentioning Ballard and Brown. On a side note on the running backs, RB Coach David Walker is happy with a rotation of Ballard/Brown as the 1-2 punch, but a clear #3 option has not emerged, according to Tom James.
  • Werner mentioned how impressed he was with the defensive cohesion as a whole, saying they had a lot of fun as well as having each other's back, something he was glad to see after just a few weeks together. 
  • Bethea brushed aside the mention of Landry not being there, citing Landry's previous experience in a similar defense in New York. "We'll get it done when he gets here."
  • Bethea also talked a lot about how the defense has progressed since last season. Personally, he said "my head was spinning at this time last season," and that the defense as a whole is "miles ahead" of where it was in 2012. 

One other minor note: the primary punt returners today were T.Y. Hilton and LaVon Brazil, with no mention of seventh round draft pick Kerwynn Williams. 

Again, it's only OTAs, and there's no reason to be alarmed, but Williams needs to make an impact on special teams if he's going to make the roster and get on the field in 2013 (barring injury). Of course, there's always kick returns as well, but I'd like to see him making an impact in both spots if he's going to be a difference maker. 

Well, that ended up being almost as long as the original anyway. Hopefully you find it helpful, entertaining, informative, and whatever other adjective your hear desires. 

If not, well, I can't help you. Or maybe I could, but I'm just choosing not to. 

Don't judge me if any of this sounds like late-night rambling. After all, that's exactly what it is. 

66 days until training camp.

Kyle J. Rodriguez

About Kyle J. Rodriguez

A film and numbers guru, Kyle writes about the NFL and the Indianapolis Colts for Bleacher Report, Draft Mecca and The Football Educator, and is a co-founder and associate editor of Colts Authority. Kyle also is a high school sports reporter for the MLive Media Group in Michigan, covering high school sports across the state.