In addition to tweeting from Training Camp sessions (@Jamkel89) I will be writing these reviews of the practices, at least from how I saw them. Since so much was happening these posts will be less of a timeline of events, and more just commenting on specific players, and how I think they performed. I will start off each report, though, by listing the players who were inactive and any trends I thought were interesting.
DNP: Adam Vinatieri, Dan Orlovsky, Nate Davis, Taj Smith, Blair White, Peyton Manning, Kevin Thomas, Joseph Addai, Melvin Bullitt, Jeff Saturday, Kyle DeVan, Eric Foster, Ryan Diem, Michael Toudouze, Mike Pollak, Tommie Harris, Antonio Johnson, Ernie Simms, Fili Moala, Brody Eldridge, Jammal Anderson
(Unable to participate due to Veteran Free Agency restrictions as a result of new CBA rules. Players in blue will be able to participate starting Thursday, Aug. 4th)
1st team O-line: LT – Linkenbach, LG – Reitz, C – Richard, RG – Thomas, RT – Ijalana
2nd team O-line: LT – Castonzo, LG – McClendon, C – Kirkpatrick, RG – Williams, RT – Bender
1st team D-line: LE – Mathis, NT – Matthews, UT – Nevis, RE – Freeney
2nd team D-line: LE – Hughes, NT – Ogubu, UT – Gill, RE – Chick
1st team Offense: QB – Painter, RB1 – Brown, RB2 – Carter, WR1 – Wayne, WR2 – Collie, WR3 – Garcon, TE1 – Clark, TE2 – Tamme
2nd team Offense: QB: – Hartline, RB1 – Moore, RB2 – James, WR1 – Gonzalez, WR2 – Gilreath, WR3 – Heckendorf, TE1 – Myers, TE2 – DeVree
Field Goal Drills
2/2 – 25 yard line
2/2 – 30 yard line
2/2 – 35 yard line
*Note: McAfee was also doing practice field goals before the formal practice began and was booting them from the 50 yard line and deeper and making them. His longest one came from 75 yards out and he sailed the ball through with room to spare. This was on a stand, though, and not with a holder, so that should be taken into account. McAfee was also airing punts well over 70 yards during punting drills, and landing them directly down field each time. Baltz on the other hand was getting around 50 yards maximum and was all over the place with his accuracy.
Austin Collie: Collie had very precise routes and was nearly perfect in every drill and scrimmage. This is not surprising, but for those outside media types who believed Collie was too injured to continue playing anymore, it was a good showing that the reports of his demise had been greatly exaggerated.
The highlight of my evening was in one-on-one drills featuring Collie vs. Tryon. In this particular play Collie made the route look like a stop and go route where he runs 10 yards down field, stutter steps then sprints off again down field. In reality, Collie stutter stepped, lunged forward, then came back towards the sideline for an easy catch. Collie sold the go part of the route so well that Tryon was easily 7 yards off of Collie when Collie came back to make the catch. In addition, the throw was made before Collie even made his move, showing that QB Curtis Painter and Austin Collie were very much on the same page. It required complete Collie to have faith that Painter would put the ball exactly in place before he even made his move. It required Painter to have faith that Collie could sell the route AND have the timing down just right to be able to come back to get the ball. This one throw, all around, was just very well executed and gave me confidence in the precision offense the Colts rely upon, especially with Manning still on the PUP list.
Anthony Gonzalez: Gonzalez, like Collie, is coming back off IR. Gonzalez has had knee problems the past couple years and it is always a question if his speed will return like normal. Gonzalez wasn’t blazing by anyone, but he was able to get separation on nearly everyone in the secondary, and made some highly contested catches in one-on-one drills. The only passes Gonzalez was unable to make were 2 from Hartline which sailed very high and wide on deep routes by Gonzalez, and one by Painter which was thrown about a foot too far in front of him to be able to catch. Like Collie, Gonzalez seemed to have his timing down perfectly and ran precise routes. When Manning comes back he will depend on his receivers being completely on top of the ball.
Joe Horn, David Gilreath, Kole Heckendorf, Rob Myers, Tyson DeVree: Horn, along with his fellow backup WRs and TEs, showed quite a lot during practice. They made very fluid catches during drills, had good timing with Curtis Painter despite being relatively new to the system, and ran rather crisp routes. Some were obviously faster than others, but they all did well playing against the secondary in one-on-one drills. Gilreath in particular really impressed me. Despite my initial reservations concerning his ability to catch, he was one of the most fluid receivers on the field, and had a very soft catch, just like high percentage receivers Austin Collie and Anthony Gonzalez. Heckendorf also showed himself to be a competent slot receiver running very crisp routes during practice. Horn impressed me the most of everyone though. While he didn’t do as much as a WR in scrimmages, when he did get a chance he made easy and difficult catches with little struggle while getting good separation from corners and safeties. The reason he had the biggest impression on me is because his speed and routes gave him separation on nearly every play. He was able to move horizontally equally as well as he could speed down field.
Adrian Moten: Moten picked Painter on the first play of the scrimmage as a result of a hit by defensive ends Robert Mathis and Dwight Freeney. In addition to that he blended in very well with starters Pat Angerer, Phillip Wheeler, Gary Brackett, and Kavell Conner. Given Moten’s coverage skills, he could prove very useful, especially in nickle packages.
First and Second team Defensive line: While Mookie and Moala did not play with the first team defense, both groups were able to own the ‘first’ team offensive line with relative ease, let alone the second team. RBs Carter, Evans, and Spann showed problems gaining yards against those lines without dependence on the linebackers that proved costly last year. In addition, had a ‘No hitting the QB’ rule not been in effect, both Painter and Hartline would have suffered significant numbers of sacks. With DeVan, Saturday, and Diem all sitting out of practices even the first team offensive line was in fact more of a second team. With the new CBA being finalized, the offensive line should be more set for the rest of camp.
Devin Moore and Javarris James: While Carter, Evans, and Spann struggled, Moore and James showed promise while working against both defensive lines. While the aforementioned three RBs were struggling to gain yards, both Moore and James had a number of 7-12 yard plays on end arounds where they simply our paced linebackers and corners to the edge and were able to gain significant yardage. James, who is not known for his speed, was specifically impressive as he outran Kavell Conner and picked up 9 yards before Bethea was able to knock him out of bounds.
Curtis Painter: Painter is not a popular QB. In terms of quality, he isn’t even particularly good, but he was very solid in practice. His throws were very powerful, zipping down field with very high velocity and very good accuracy on even most deep passes. The only instances where Painter missed his mark was a couple times when Clark dropped his pass and one time when Painter overthrew Gonzalez by about a foot roughly 45 yards downfield. Outside of the pick by Moten as a result of a hit by the first team defensive line, Painter made good decisions, finding open receivers, and showing confidence in his throws and in his receivers. Still, memories of the ruined season in 2009 haunt fans. With Curtis Painter being named the starting QB for the first pre-season game already, fans will get an early look at him to see if he has indeed matured and developed any over the past year.
Delone Carter: Carter was shaky in receiving drills, and fumbled the ball on the second play during the scrimmage, giving Mathis a fumble recovery for a Touchdown. Now, admittedly, Carter is not known for his receiving talent, and he was running behind the 2nd team offensive line at that point vs. the 1st team defensive line, so all the blame cannot be placed upon Carter, but regardless, Carter wasn’t amazing. There was not a lot of opportunity for him to demonstrate his pass blocking skills, and without a significant presence on the offensive line even his running could not really be demonstrated. Carter goes into the bad category because he didn’t impress with his limited opportunity, but don’t be surprised if this changes next time.
Mike Hartline: Hartline was on the cusp of an interception on almost all of his throws. The only thing that saved him was the fact that the Linebackers weren’t playing for interceptions, just to mirror routes. Hartline also made exceptionally poor decisions. He threw slow passes into tight coverage, and targeted the same player play after play after play, essentially meaning he was very predictable. He also made little or no attempt to challenge the second and third team secondary down field. Hartline may have just had an off night, but with Painter being so crisp, there is very little hope for Hartline at this point. Unless he can make a miraculous advancement in his decision making so as to not constantly dump off to his slot receivers, tight ends and RBs getting mauled by two or three defensive players, expect Hartline to be axed sooner rather than later.
Travis Baltz: Baltz was inaccurate and lacked the power that McAfee demonstrated all day. Very little else needs to be said about him, or can be said. His punts were just of poor quality when compared to McAfee. If the Colts needed a punter, he isn’t so bad as to be an automatic rejection, but given the Colts do in fact have a set punter, Baltz is very much a third wheel.
Benjamin Ijalana, Anthony Castonzo: Both Castonzo and Ijalana got demolished by Robert Mathis and Jerry Hughes. For Castonzo, this was his first day of practices, but was still getting blown apart by his preceding first round counterpart from 2010, Jerry Hughes. Ijalana, the first team RT, was facing Robert Mathis and was getting rough lessons on NFL defensive ends. As rookies, this isn’t so surprising, and as both are currently not projected to be the starters, it is less concerning, but it would have been nice to see either of these guys stepping up into their new roles in a serious way. For Ijalana, Mathis is above and beyond anything he’s ever faced before, and for Castonzo he is still just getting started on the learning curve. How they all react with further instruction will be a major topic of interest, especially if either of these guys look to gain a starting spot by the onset of the regular season.