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2021 Colts Training Camp Journal, Day 13: Eason/Ehlinger Impress vs. Panthers, Defense Sets Tone

During the first of two joint practices with the Panthers, the Colts' defense dominated early, and the young quarterbacks both turned in solid performances. (Video via Indianapolis Colts YouTube)

The Indianapolis Colts played host to the Carolina Panthers for the first of two days of joint practices on Thursday, and they responded nicely to a new test.

Both the offense and defense can go back to their rooms tonight with their heads held high after facing a new opponent for the first time since January.

With the Panthers being at Grand Park Sports Campus in Westfield, Ind. for two days, I focused primarily on the defense Thursday and will shift to the offense on Friday.

All that and more in Thursday's Day 13 "Colts Training Camp Journal."

TEAM

— The following players did not participate in practice Thursday: QB Carson Wentz (foot), WR Ashton Dulin (hamstring), S Julian Blackmon (knee), CB Nick Nelson (undisclosed), LB Skai Moore (back), G Quenton Nelson (foot), LB Jordan Glasgow (back), DE Damontre Moore (knee), C Ryan Kelly (elbow), TE Mo Alie-Cox (knee), TE Noah Togiai (knee), DT Taylor Stallworth (hamstring), DeForest Buckner (foot).

— RT Braden Smith (foot) returned to the field after missing the last two practices.

— RB Nyheim Hines (leg), LB E.J. Speed (knee), and OL Danny Pinter (foot) all got banged up and left practice on Thursday.

— In 1-on-1 drills pitting the Colts' wide receivers vs. the Panthers' cornerbacks, the Panthers won by a score of 24 reps to 8. I scored an offensive win by a catch or penalty, and defensive wins by an incompletion or offensive penalty. Here's how it went: Robby Anderson def. Xavier Rhodes; Kenny Moore def. D.J. Moore; Terrace Marshall Jr def. T.J. Carrie; Isaiah Rodgers def. Brandon Zylstra; Holton Hill def. Ishmael Hyman; Rock Ya-Sin def. David Moore; Anthony Chesley def. Shi Smith; Omar Bayless def. Isaiah Rodgers; C.J. Saunders def. Holton Hill (penalty); Micah Simon def. Marvell Tell III; Anderson def. Rhodes; Krishawn Hogan def. Ya-Sin; Trenton Cannon def. Carrie; Kenny Moore II def. D.J. Moore; Hyman def. Hill (touchdown); David Moore def. Rodgers; Marshall def. Chesley; Ya-Sin def. Zylstra; Smith def. Carrie; Simon def. Tell (penalty); Saunders def. Chesley; Bayless def. Rodgers; Cannon def. Hill; Hogan def. Ya-Sin; Rhodes def. Anderson; Rodgers def. Zylstra; Marshall def. Carrie; Bayless def. Tell (touchdown); Hyman def. Hill; Simon def. Ya-Sin; Smith def. Chesley; Hogan def. Rodgers (was cheered on by his son in the front row of the stands. 2017, 18, 20)

— One of the highlights during the drill came from CB Isaiah Rodgers, who allowed WR Brandon Zylstra to run on as he tracked the underthrown pass and intercepted it (much to the delight of assistant DBs coach David Overstreet II). Also, CB Rock Ya-Sin allowed a reception to WR Krishawn Hogan, but then punched the ball out for a forced fumble.

— Another high moment was when Hogan, who is from Indianapolis, went to Marian and was with the Colts in 2017, '18, and '20, made a catch at the end of the drill while his son cheered him on from the front row of the stands.

— In 1-on-1 drills pitting the Colts' defensive linemen vs. the Panthers' offensive linemen, there were so many reps that I decided to provide how many wins I scored for each Colt rather than the result of each rep. I gave a "win" to the offensive lineman if he kept his man from getting to the marker on the field that he's attempting to reach, and a "win" to the defensive lineman if he successfully reached the mark or collapsed the pocket. Here's how it went: DT Andrew Brown (7), DT Chris Williams (5), DT Grover Stewart (4), DE Isaac Rochell (4), DE Tyquan Lewis (3), DT Antwaun Woods (3), DE Ben Banogu (3), DE Al-Quadin Muhammad (3), DE Kemoko Turay (2), DE Kameron Cline (2), DT Joey Ivie

— Brown, Rochell, and Woods looked particularly good in the way they won their 1-on-1s. Brown and Woods especially displayed terrific power while Rochell won with a blend of movement and power. He's begun putting things together a little better in recent days.


OFFENSE

— QBs Sam Ehlinger and Jacob Eason continued to split reps on Thursday, and both had a solid day at the office against a Panthers defense that is plenty capable of making life difficult for QBs. Both were considered especially efficient and productive in the red zone.

— Ehlinger finished 13-of-16 passing (81.3%) (H/T George Bremer) in 11-on-11s with 3 touchdowns (WR Mike Strachan, WR Michael Pittman Jr., Jack Doyle).

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— Eason was 8-of-11 passing (72.7%) with 1 touchdown (Kylen Granson).

— Strachan's latest touchdown was another one worthy of a highlight as he caught a heater in a crowd from Ehlinger in the end zone.

— It didn't take long for guys to take the exception of getting hit by someone else, as Pittman had words with a Panthers defender for bringing him down with an apparent horsecollar tackle.

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DEFENSE

— The Colts' defense set the tone early as they completely smothered the Panthers' offense. The field was littered with tackles for loss and takedowns near the line of scrimmage by the Colts. On one play, Panthers QB Sam Darnold found TE Dan Arnold about 15 yards along the left side and Colts S Andre Chachere was there to pop him and dislodge the ball for an incompletion. Later while the Colts were in heavy coverage, Darnold had all day to throw but couldn't find anyone as he tossed the ball to an open spot on the field, much to the delight of Colts LB Darius Leonard.

— One of the defensive highlights of the day was an interception by Colts S George Odum. Grier launched the ball about 40 yards or so down the left side, and Odum leaped up to make the pick.

— It was another banner day for the Colts' young pass rushers. I had DE Ben Banogu with an unofficial tally of two run stuffs, three quarterback pressures, and a sack. Likewise, DEs Tyquan Lewis and Kemoko Turay combined for a sack and numerous pressures.

— It was a big day for LB E.J. Speed, who is making some noise in the race for starting SAM linebacker. Within a few plays, he got to Panthers RB Christian McCaffrey for a short gain forced out of bounds, and then completely stuffed him afterward. LB Zaire  Franklin, who is competing with Speed for the SAM job, had a run stuff and a sack against Grier.

— Brown and Williams took their intensity into 11-on-11s as well, as they were a fixture at clogging running lanes around the line of scrimmage, and Brown got a QB hit as well.

— Other various plays made by the Colts defense were LB Bobby Okereke, S Khari Willis, Stewart and Rochell with run stuffs, CB Xavier Rhodes with a pass breakup against Panthers WR D.J. Moore, CB Anthony Chesley with a sack on Panthers QB P.J. Walker, and a group sack against Darnold.

SPECIAL TEAMS

— The Colts have had better days on punt returns. Hines suffered his injury during a punt return, and WR DeMichael Harris muffed a punt which was then recovered by Carolina WR Shi Smith.

What did you think of Day 13 of #ColtsCamp? Drop your thoughts below in the comment section!

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