Colts Week Two OTA Notebook: Defense Wins The Day
Colts Week Two OTA Notebook: Defense Wins The Day
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INDIANAPOLIS – The Colts are back from their holiday weekend and picking up Week Two of their OTA sessions.
An overcast day on Wednesday saw the defense take full advantage of a first-team offense again without Andrew Luck.
Here is a notebook look from Week Two of OTAs:
- The Colts again opened up in a nickel defense on Wednesday with the following 11 guys ‘starting’: DE-Justin Houston, DT-Margus Hunt, DE-Al-Quadin Muhammad, DT-Denico Autry, LB-Zaire Franklin, LB-Anthony Walker, CB-Quincy Wilson, CB-Pierre Desir, CB-Kenny Moore, S-George Odum and S-Malik Hooker. With a couple of guys banged up at linebacker, that opened the door for Zaire Franklin and even EJ Speed to get some first-team action on Wednesday.
- The Colts began Wednesday in a three wide receiver set with the following 11 guys ‘starting’: LT-Anthony Castonzo, LG-Quenton Nelson, C-Ryan Kelly, RG-Mark Glowinski, RT-Braden Smith, TE-Mo Alie-Cox, WR-T.Y. Hilton, WR-Devin Funchess, WR-Chester Rogers, RB-Marlon Mack, QB-Jacoby Brissett. It was the same starting offense we saw last Tuesday during the first OTA session of the spring.
- Andrew Luck (calf strain) will miss his second straight week of OTAs, with the Colts holding sessions again on Thursday and Friday. Reich said the Colts still anticipate Luck to participate in some part of the remaining offseason program, which only has two weeks left (one more week of OTAs next week and then a minicamp from June 11-13). Reich said the calf strain injury occurred when Luck was working out earlier this spring. “I would anticipate so,” Reich said about Luck taking part in some spring team activity, “But, again, I’ve personally had that same issue and it creeps up, if you don’t let it heal right. But if you let it heal, it’s fine. We are just playing it safe.” Reich says the injury has forced Luck to modify some of his workouts, but No. 12 has done a little bit of throwing and there are no issues in his shoulder area. “Everything upper body wise is 10-out-of-10,” Reich said of Luck.
- Honestly, Wednesday’s practice highlight was a very spirited jawing session between Jacoby Brissett and Devin Funchess after some apparent miscommunication between the two. Some profanity was exchanged, with Marlon Mack having to hold back Brissett from Funchess. It was an unusual site at a Colts practice to see two guys on the same side of the ball confronting each other, especially involving a quarterback. This occurred right after Brissett had thrown two interceptions in a three pass sequence. The two never appeared to talk through their disagreement through the remainder of practice, with Funchess and Brissett standing at opposite ends of the offense, when it was time for reserves to take the field for 11-on-11 work. During Funchess’ time in Carolina, there were questions about the maturity of Funchess, who just recently turned 25 years old. This sort of disagreement happening in a full-padded, scorching hot Training Camp practice isn’t that out of the norm. But it definitely is for a May 29 session in shorts and helmets. Brissett struggled to find Funchess on Wednesday, especially compared to their connection last week.
- The defense easily won the day on Wednesday and Frank Reich confirmed that after the fourth OTA session of the spring. "I thought today we did get a lot of hands on the ball," Reich said after practice. "The defense won the day today, if that would be fair. So that’s good, and it will go back and forth like that. I thought they did a good job. I thought they played really disciplined and then made the plays that came their way.” Wednesday had a heavy red-zone focus, with the likes of Chris Milton, Nate Hairston and Quincy Wilson all making noticeable on-ball plays. Milton, who had a very nice day, and Hairston each had an interception of Jacoby Brissett.
- It was an erratic day for Brissett, who threw two interceptions in a three throw stretch and misfired on a couple of red-zone opportunities. This is not the side of the Brissett we often see out of him when he’s led the first-team offense in the past.
- At punt returner, Chester Rogers and Parris Campbell got the bulk of the work, with the Colts also giving Nyheim Hines and Zach Pascal a look. Rogers looked much more natural than Campbell on Wednesday. This is a key battle to watch in determining the exact role for Campbell as a rookie/and whether or not Rogers will definitely make the team in 2019. Campbell did not return punts in any of his four seasons at Ohio State.
- When the Colts divide up into their starters on one field and their reserves on the other field, in 11-on-11 sessions, the rookies are almost exclusively with the reserves. On Wednesday, we did see occasional first-team work for Parris Campbell (in very specific designed plays to allow Campbell to touch the football) and EJ Speed, with the injuries at linebacker.
- For a second straight week, rookie Ben Banogu worked as a defensive end, and not at linebacker. This will be something to watch the rest of the spring. Do the Colts like their numbers at linebacker to keep Banogu more at defensive end, or will we see some interchanging from him in that hybrid LB/DE role? FWIW, we have still yet to see the Colts defense play several reps in a normal 4-3 base defense, with 3 linebackers on the field. Bobby Okereke is taking the second-team reps at MIKE linebacker.
- Wednesday was also a chance to catch up with a trio of injured Colts: Jack Doyle (hip), Deon Cain (knee) and Clayton Geathers (knee). Doyle said he is fully healed from his lacerated kidney and is currently rehabbing the off-season hip surgery he had. Doyle said he is now back up to his playing weight, after losing 20 pounds following the procedure on his kidney. Cain said he is running routes in his ACL rehab and remains on schedule to return to practice for the start of Training Camp for his return to practice. Geathers had an off-season ‘cleanup’ on his nagging knee injury, which is why the Colts have held him out of the first two weeks of OTAs. “Last season I was fighting the knee, so I got a cleanup and it’s been good ever since,” the veteran safety said on Wednesday.
- We also heard from Chad Kelly for the first time this spring. Kelly, the nephew of Jim Kelly, has had a troubled past, the latest stemming from an October 2018 arrest. If words mean anything, Kelly sounded sincere on Wednesday and made no excuses for his past issues. “At the end of the day, you have to put in enough work for those guys to trust you because it’s going to take some time, of course because of things that have happened in the past,” Kelly said on Wednesday. “But I’m up for the challenge to prove to these guys that I’m dedicated to this and I want to do whatever I have to do to be a great teammate, a great leader, because that’s what quarterbacks do. I’m up to this challenge.” Kelly, who has been in Buffalo living in his parents basement since his October arrest, says the Colts have things in place set up for him to be a better person. “I truly see it’s a genuine thing and I appreciate everything Mr. Ballard has done for giving me this chance and has talked me throughout this process…In order to change your ways, you have to cut some things out. You can’t be hanging around the same people and you can’t be doing the things that you thought you could get away with. I’m thankful for this opportunity. I’m up for the challenge to prove to these guys that I’m dedicated to this and I want to do whatever I have to do to be a great teammate, a great leader, because that’s what quarterbacks do.”
- The IU football coaching staff, including head man Tom Allen, was present for Wednesday’s OTA session. IU running backs coach Mike Hart was in attendance. Hart played for the Colts from 2008-10.
- Reminder, here’s a look at some of the injured guys expected to be dialed back this spring. On Wednesday, guys sidelined included: LB-Matthew Adams, WR-Deon Cain, TE-Jack Doyle, Matthias Farley, TE-Eric Ebron, S-Clayton Geathers, LB-Darius Leonard, QB-Andrew Luck, DE-Jabaal Sheard, TE-Ross Travis.
- Some of the guys that dealt with injuries, but participated on Wednesday included: WR-T.Y. Hilton, S-Malik Hooker, DE-Justin Houston, CB-Chris Milton, LB-Anthony Walker, DL-Jihad Ward, RB-Spencer Ware. There should be zero concern about Hilton’s ankle issues from 2018. He took part in all team drills on Tuesday.
- The Colts will have 6 more OTA sessions over the next two weeks, before a three-day mandatory minicamp ends the offseason program June 11-13.
Deon Cain says he is running/running routes.
Quite eager to get on the field for Training Camp. pic.twitter.com/JkJOsNDoB6
— Kevin Bowen (@KBowen1070) May 29, 2019