The Indianapolis Colts took advantage of the setting sun to get in two hours of work on Wednesday night. During that time they focused a lot on goal-line offense and passing routes, kick returns, and spent the last 40 minutes or so scrimmaging 11-on-11.
Overall, there was a lot of reasons to be excited about the preseason getting under way and only a few reasons to hesitate or be worried.
[media-credit id=2 align="aligncenter" width="346"][/media-credit]The first team offensive and defensive units look really good. Our secondary is stronger than I have ever seen it, and gave Manning and company fits a lot of the time.
Reggie Wayne looks absolutely phenomenal. It looks like he is in great shape, is running deadly accurate routes, and made it extremely difficult for the Colts corner backs to cover him.
Pierre Garçon, Austin Collie, and Anthony Gonzalez have all impressed at different points throughout training camp. Gonzalez was not participating in practice but did not have a sleeve on his leg and just stood around resting.
Taj Smith continues to compete heavily with players like Blair White and Samuel Giguere to earn a roster spot. It is clear that he is a perfectionist and gets frustrated when he makes little mistakes. Not every pass his way was caught — some were overthrown — but he looked really comfortable out on the field and poised to make it really hard for the Colts to say “no” again this year.
One of the highlights from the evening practice involved an altercation between Philip Wheeler and Reggie Wayne. Wayne made a catch on a short crossing pattern and did not attempt to run after he secured the pass. Wheeler had already committed to laying a hit and drilled Wayne when he was not expecting it (the pop was loud enough for all fans to hear it). Wayne was visibly irritated and threw the football at Wheeler’s chest, leading Wheeler to shove him. It all came to an end quickly but excited the players and the crowd.
I would say that nothing in the altercation will have any greater meaning, or is a cause for concern. I think it is great to see the players mixing it up a bit — getting excited and worked up — we need more of that on this team, so long as no one gets hurt as a result.
Joseph Addai looks very quick, mobile, and poised to pick up where he left off last year. When Addai gets to the hole and sees daylight, he is scary quick with his jukes and moves to shake oncoming defenders.
Deshea Townsend has looked like a player fully capable of taking snaps on defense if he is needed. Whatever concerns fans had about secondary depth should be lessened by Townsend’s presence. He may not be a player that should start regularly, but in spot duty I am confident fans will be happier with him than they seemed to be with Tim jennings.
I focused on Jerry Hughes when the second team defense took the field. He was not able to secure a sack but did get good penetration on a passing play that forced Painter to roll out to his right and get rid of the ball quickly. I would like to see him get more opportunities but think his best chance to shine is in preseason.
Each of our potential kick and punt returners give reasons to be confident during their camp opportunities. Brandon James seems to be the player getting the most work and attention from the coaching staff. Giguere and Fisher are also obviously talented and capable as returners. Blair White seems like a bit of a stretch to me, as he drops too many punts and kicks when he is back to field them.
One of the more frustrating things about camp is that it is so difficult to get a good read on individual players. Generally, players spend only chunks of time on the field during 11-on-11 drills. This means that all Colts fans who want to see which young players stand out will need to watch all of the preseason games. The men will separate themselves from the boys in those contests.