#CATweetBag: Colts Camp Edition

Welcome to the 2014 return of the #CATweetbag, or the Cat Wee Bag as it has become known. Today we’re talking Colts training camp, which I was fortunate enough to attend all this week while I’ve visited Indianapolis, Anderson and the surrounding area.

By the way, thank you to all who I was able to meet this week. It’s always a trip I look forward to, and am able to make some great connections with fellow Colts fans. I haven’t met a single person who hasn’t been fantastic, so thank you for your hospitality!

Anyway, on to the Wee Bag. I got a lot of great questions, and I’ve picked a few key ones for today, but I will have the more generic camp questions also included in my training camp overhaul on Monday.

I had some… discussions about this earlier this week on Twitter, and I know Steve was asking this as a joke, but I figure, why not take advantage of it for my own purposes??

Really, it works out well because I can coherently articulate my opinion in a medium that’s not limited to 140 characters.

Basically, it comes down to this: training camp is a partial-speed practice with minimal physicality where reporters/fans see one aspect of a play or drill with little-to-no context, without replay or advantageous viewing angles.

It’s not a conducive atmosphere for analysis. I wouldn’t trust my own opinion of certain players’ abilities after one training camp, much less somebody else’s. I understand that people want daily training camp notes, and they get clicks, but I just don’t think they are valuable. It doesn’t help that I’ll attend camp and see the same exact plays, then read people’s camp notes later and realize that I saw very different things.

For example, one blogger pointed to a play that Loucheiz Purifoy broke up a pass down the sideline on one practice I attended earlier in the week. He even captured the moment in a picture. He noted that the tight coverage on the play was one reason or example of why Purifoy having a good camp.

Now, Purifoy may or may not be having a good camp, but that play was not one he’d want on his highlight reel. On the play in question, Purifoy was beat badly by Josh Lenz, who had about 2 1/2 steps on Purifoy. It should have been a touchdown, really. But Hasselbeck’s throw (I believe it was Hasselbeck, anyway) was way short, and Lenz had to come to an almost complete stop. Purifoy got his hands up (although he didn’t get his head around to see the ball) and was able to knock it away, but it was by no means exemplary, or even good, coverage.

So, sorry if you expected daily camp notes while I was in Indianapolis. I will have a complete rundown of my notes on Monday, but the only analysis of players’ performances will be looking at general trends. Instead, I’d rather focus on how certain players are used, what formations/trends we see from coaches, etc.

This is a question that I think could determine the season. Last year, offensive coordinator Pep Hamilton learned to let Luck loose as the season went along. But, the injuries to guys like Allen and Thomas, along with Richardson’s struggles, kind of forced him to do so.

Will Hamilton revert back to a very run-heavy, conservative offense with Allen back and a (hopefully) improved running back situation? Or will he remember the effectiveness that Luck had in the last four or five games of the season when the offense opened up?

I definitely think that Hamilton has learned to use T.Y. Hilton is more effective ways. If that can spread to the entire passing offense, the Colts would benefit greatly. So far in camp, I’ve seen more short, conservative passing concepts than I personally would prefer, but I think it’s something we’re going to have to see in a game before we can really assess it.

This is a fantastic question, and honestly, I don’t know if I know the answer.

I will say this, however: Marvin Harrison’s injury had a bit different circumstances. Harrison injured his knee in Week 4 against the Broncos, but there was no structural damage to the knee, or so they thought. Swelling, pain and damage to the bursa sac were the reported issues, and Harrison attempted to play against Jacksonville in Week 7, but then wouldn’t play again until the playoffs, where he was clearly affected. In 2008, it was clear that Harrison was no longer the player he was pre-injury.

NOTE: This was another case where the Colts mis-handled an injury and it proved to be a career-ending thing. Could handling it better have prolonged Harrison’s career? I don’t know, and I’m not going to claim that. But… add it to the list of questionable injury situations in Indianapolis. 

With Wayne, I think the clean ACL tear was good for him, in a way. There was never any possibility for him to play at the end of last season, and he could solely focus on rehabbing from injury. Am I worried about him re-injuring himself? Of course. The history of Colts players coming off of season-ending injuries is a train wreck (Ben Ijalana, Austin Collie, Pat Angerer, Vick Ballard, Donald Thomas, Fili Moala*). But he looks good. He looks like the old Reggie, at least in how he moves on the field. The league has come very far in ACL surgeries and recovery.

*In case you forgot, Moala went on the IR at the end of last season with a knee injury. He was reportedly recovered for OTAs, but partially tore his ACL in practice and will miss the entire 2014 season. Moala also missed 10 games in 2012 due to a knee injury.

T.Y. Hilton.

He is phenomenal. His size and potential for injury is really the only thing holding him back. He can run all the routes, his hands have improved tremendously and he’s got one of the most lethal acceleration-top speed combinations in the game.

He’s the one guy, along with Luck, that always gets me excited about this regime. I may even buy a Hilton jersey before I buy a Luck jersey.

He is 100% for real. We pointed at Steve Smith when he was drafted as a target point, so far he’s right on schedule:

TYSteveSmith

All five of my top five would be different qualities of Andrew Luck, so I’ll exclude him for variety’s sake.

1. The depth and overall talent at wide receiver. It’s as deep of a group as we’ve ever seen in Indianapolis, and it’s one of the most talented top threes in the league, if healthy.

2. The Dwayne Allen and Coby Fleener combination. The two combine a perfect blend of skills, at least in my mind. Now it’s up to the coaches to use them accordingly and fate to keep them healthy.

3. The depth/rotational value of the Colts defensive line. It may not be a super-talented group at the top, but adding Arthur Jones to the mix makes the rotation very solid with Jones, Cory Redding, Ricky Jean Francois, Josh Chapman and an improving Montori Hughes. A healthy Fili Moala would be better, but hey, it’s still the best Colts defensive line we’ve seen in a long, long time (not including edge rushers).

4. The potential at cornerback. When healthy, Vontae Davis, Greg Toler, Darius Butler and Josh Gordy are a solid four, with a very high ceiling. There is some inconsistency, and injury history, but they are fantastic athletes with the potential to be a Top 10 group.

5. The dependability of the inside linebackers. While Jerrell Freeman and D’Qwell Jackson are going to get lost behind blockers and pushed around at times, both have good range across the field and tackle well. They should be the leaders of the defense in 2014, and can both play all three downs.

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.

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