Watching the Colts’ morning practice on Wednesday morning was boring and tedious. Unlike other practices, the team worked through drills and situations at a slow speed, focusing on schemes, formations, and fundamentals.
The upside to this kind of practice is that it is much easier to identify and follow which players are on the field, at what times and in what situations, and possibly get a more developed gauge for where the Colts plan to use their weapons. It was with this approach I have tried to glean a small bit of information that may help fans have an idea which direction the team is heading as their first pre-season game approaches.
The Colts spent some time working on a package where the center will snap the ball directly to a running back. The only back to play the “quarterback” role in this package was Mike Hart. The Colts ran and passed using a “wildcat-like” formation, so fans should be prepared to potentially see the team experiment with this package at times during pre-season.
Jamie Thomas continues to get first-team work at left guard. Some may not remember that Thomas was a seventh round draft pick in the 2009 NFL Draft — he spent the entire year on the practice squad. It seems relatively safe to predict that he is destined to make the roster at this point, though he may be competing with McClendon down the stretch.
It also appears that the Colts plan to move their arsenal of receivers, running backs, and tight ends all around the field throughout the year. Donald Brown took a couple of snaps lined up wide-left, where Reggie Wayne usually plays. Collie took snaps wide-left as well. This team will give opponents a ton of looks and will find creative ways to exploit desirable matchups.
Mitch King projects to wear many hats for the Colts. He is destined to spend some time at defensive tackle, defensive end, and as a fullback on offense. King’s competition on defense just got smaller with John Gill’s early exit, and all of his work on offense gives the team a lot of options.
If the Colts do plan to have an “open competition” amongst the three reserve quarterbacks currently on the roster, much of that will play out during pre-season games. Only Manning and Painter get significant time working with their teammates, while Brandstater is resigned only to discuss things with the coaches most of the time, and Hiller gets only a few snaps as an after thought during camp practices.
Similarly, there does not seem to be a great deal of competition at running back. Both Devin Moore and Javarris James are potentially talented runners but both have the look of camp fodder. They get a ton of reps with by offensive units, while last year’s backs are generally treated like protected commodities.
It is also worth mentioning that I do not think Javarris James is a big or strong back in any way. From what I can tell, all three of our current backs look bigger and stronger. He is nothing like Edgerrin, let’s put it that way.
I got a good look at Fili Moala early in practice and had the impression that he is larger this year. If he is, it could be a sign that he is developing and maturing physically, which could go a long way in helping him face NFL competition in the trenches.
Today’s morning practice really makes me anxious for Sunday’s pre-season game against the 49ers. I look forward to seeing which players separate themselves from their competition, in the same way that Mike Hart and Jacob Lacey have done in the past. My guess is that the real players will distinguish themselves more in one game against NFL competition than they have through a couple weeks of training camp practices.