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10 Things Learned At Colts Rookie Minicamp

What was learned at three-day rookie minicamp for the Colts?

Tim Warner | Getty Images

INDIANAPOLIS – Welcome to the NFL, Colts rookies.

The 2018 rookie minicamp for the Colts has come and gone.

Three days of practice, ample time in the classroom and even a Friday dinner down at Lucas Oil Stadium, dotted the schedule for the rookies at their 3-day minicamp.

With the rookies now introduced into NFL life, they will join the vets on Monday for the rest of the Colts offseason program.

Here are 10 things learned from the Colts 2018 rookie minicamp:

  • Kemoko Turay Impressing: Frank Reich liked what he saw from the Rutgers defensive end this weekend. Yes, practices are just in shorts and helmets, but Turay’s speed off the ball is evident. The sack numbers from Turay were not too eye popping in college. However, the Colts are adamant they saw some intriguing pass rushing traits out of the 6-5, 253-pound prospect, who will transition from a 3-4 linebacker to a 4-3 defensive end in the NFL. For now, Turay seems to be further along than Tarell Basham was this time last year.
  • Nyheim Hines Loves This Fit: Hines sounds like a veteran. “Just shut up and listen,” was Hines’ answer to a question about the best advice he received coming into this rookie minicamp. Hines reiterated how great of a fit he feels this offense is for his versatile skillset. The 5-8, 198-pound Hines acknowledged that pass protection, and trying to follow in the footsteps of a Brian Westbrook or Warrick Dunn (as a smaller, yet capable, pass protector), is an area where he needs to fine tune. Watching Hines in practice, it’s clear he’s moving at a gear that no one else on the practice field can get to that consistently.
  • Nelson, Smith Setting In At Guard Spots: Any question as to where these linemen will line up in 2018 should have been answered this weekend---Quenton Nelson at left guard, Braden Smith at right guard. While Nelson is not one to expand on virtually any question asked to him in a media setting, he did elaborate on his thoughts about playing with Smith. Nelson talked about how he watched film of Smith during Notre Dame’s bowl preparation for LSU last December. With Smith playing at Auburn, and having gone up against LSU, Nelson saw a lot of his future teammate in scouting the LSU defensive line. Nelson was very impressed by Smith, who started 41 straight games in the SEC. The Colts need for Smith to lock up that right guard starting spot, so this team can grow the future of their offensive line together from Day One.
  • Keep An Eye On Skai Moore: Looking at Moore’s resume, it’s hard to imagine he actually went undrafted. This is a guy who led South Carolina (the SEC school) in tackling 4 different seasons. But a slow 40-yard dash time (4.73) sent the 6-2, 218-pound Moore plummeting into the undrafted free agent pool. He signed with the Colts, knowing full well the glaring need at linebacker. Moore flashed a few times this weekend and could factor into the mix for a 53-man roster spot.
  • See The Saturday Offense Elements: Even watching a non-padded practice, you can see the different elements involved in this Frank Reich offense. Reich had a close eye on the Colts offense during the rookie minicamp. Focusing on the running backs operate and watching a guy like Nyheim Hines move all over the field, you see some signs of multiplicity that the Colts want to incorporate.
  • Trench Activity Still Coming: In non-rookie news, Frank Reich addressed the continued focus of adding players in the trenches. Two new defensive linemen (DE-Chris McCain and DT-Rakeem Nunez-Roches) and one offensive lineman (OT-Austin Howard) were signed this past week. All 3 have a very legitimate shot at playing time in 2018. “This is part of the vision that Chris (Ballard) talked about and I 100 percent agree with coming in and Chris talking about building this thing from the inside-out,” Reich said on Saturday. “I just came from a place where that was a very similar philosophy. And I’ve mentioned here before that up front, we need on the offensive line, we need 10 starters. And on defense, up front, we need 8 starters. That’s really the mentality you’ve got to have. Constantly creating competition there and depth is very important.
  • Graduation Calls: A pair of the Colts’ draft picks had abbreviated rookie minicamps for good reason. Second-round pick Darius Leonard was absent Friday and Saturday because of his graduation at South Carolina State. Fellow second rounder Kemoko Turay left minicamp on Saturday night to walk at Rutgers commencement the following day. Turay, who was born in Guinea and moved to the United States in 2000, is actually the first member of his family to graduate from college.
  • Andrew Luck Working Too: The indoor facility at the Colts complex was a popular place on Friday, Yes, the team’s Phase II offseason program schedule for the week ended on Thursday, but that didn’t stop several veterans from getting their own workout in on Friday. Andrew Luck was indeed one of those players. Yes, there is still the lingering question of when Luck is actually going to start throwing (he still hasn’t), but there’s an obvious change in his upper body physique from spring this year, versus spring last year. He looks like a REAL (NFL) quarterback right now. He definitely looks 6-4 and 240 pounds---his listed measureables.
  • Undrafted Guys Matter: For 19 straight years, the Colts have had an undrafted rookie free agent make their Week 1 roster. Last year, they had 4 (C-Deyshawn Bond, TE-Darrell Daniels, CB-Kenny Moore, P-Rigoberto Sanchez). The two most popular candidates right now are WR-Steve Ishmael (Syracuse) and ILB-Skai Moore (South Carolina). Of the Colts’ 10 current undrafted free agents, 5 are members of the secondary, which could use some upgrades at cornerback. Let’s not forget about the 36 tryout guys from this weekend either. Some might have won a 90-man roster spot this weekend for the rest of the offseason program.
  • 9 Draft Picks Sign Contracts: Just Darius Leonard and Braden Smith are the lone 2018 draft picks who have not signed their rookie contracts. Both are still allowed to participate in the offseason program though. No need to fret, these unsigned deals should not linger much longer. Quenton Nelson inked his contract Friday morning. In true Nelson fashion, here was his response to a question asked about having the relief of signing his contract behind him: “Yeah, I signed my contract.” Okay, then. Quenton Nelson is a man of few words, with his play on the field certainly doing enough talking.
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