With one week left in training camp, the Indianapolis Colts got back after it on Wednesday as they went through their 16th practice.
QB Sam Ehlinger returned after missing the day prior with an illness, resuming the backup quarterback battle between him and Jacob Eason as the two split first-team reps. Meanwhile, the edges of the offensive line continued to struggle while the defensive line took advantage.
All that and more in Thursday's Day 16 "Colts Training Camp Journal."
— The following players did not participate in practice on Wednesday: QB Carson Wentz (foot), RB Nyheim Hines (undisclosed), CB T.J. Carrie (knee), CB Marvell Tell III (groin), LB Malik Jefferson (undisclosed), LB E.J. Speed (knee), G Quenton Nelson (foot), DE Kemoko Turay (undisclosed), LB Jordan Glasgow (back), OL Danny Pinter (foot), C Ryan Kelly (elbow), TE Noah Togiai (knee), DE Tyquan Lewis (undisclosed).
— Ehlinger and WR Parris Campbell (both non-COVID illness) returned to the field after missing Tuesday's practice.
— In 1-on-1 drills pitting wide receivers and tight ends vs. defensive backs, the offense won by a score of 13 reps to 6. I scored an offensive win by a catch or penalty, and defensive wins by an incompletion or offensive penalty. Here's how it went: Isaiah Rodgers def. Zach Pascal; DeMichael Harris def. Andre Chachere; Jack Doyle def. Khari Willis; Kenny Moore II def. Michael Pittman Jr.; Mike Strachan def. Xavier Rhodes; Anthony Chesley def. Tyler Vaughns; Farrod Green def. Julian Blackmon; Tarik Black def. Rock Ya-Sin; Dezmon Patmon def. Rodgers; Chachere def. Parris Campbell; Jordan Thomas def. Ibraheim Campbell; Pittman def. Holton Hill; Pascal def. Rhodes; Harris def. Chesley; Andrew Vollert def. Shawn Davis; Black def. Hill; Rhodes def. Strachan; Chachere def. Vaughns; Kylen Granson def. George Odum
— The highlight of this drill was Pittman's win over Hill, where he hauled in a deep, 40-yard touchdown along the right sideline.
— In 11-on-11s, the Colts' offense primarily worked on blitzes, and first, second and third downs.
— Eason and Ehlinger continued splitting first-team reps as they jockey for position in determining who will be Carson Wentz's backup. The two alternated series with Ehlinger starting off.
— Wednesday wasn't Ehlinger's most prolific day, as he finished 12-of-22 passing (54.5%), but he did have a touchdown pass in the red zone near the end of practice to rookie WR Mike Strachan. The main issues appeared to be a lack of cohesion with the pass-catchers on this particular day as well as pressure from the defensive line.
— Eason, meanwhile, had another great day. He didn't pass much, going just 7-of-9 (77.8%), but he made some big things happen in that short sample size. His biggest play of the day was when he found TE Jordan Thomas wide open on an intermediate route that Thomas took into the end zone from about 60 yards out. Eason's confidence and decisiveness as a passer have taken a drastically improved turn over the last week. “I think it organically happens, I think it is true," Colts head coach Frank Reich told reporters about how a young quarterback's confidence builds. "He (Eason) came out here feeling good, feeling a little bit more confident and you could feel that on the field yesterday and you could feel it today. That’s the kind of thing you have to build on and every quarterback goes through it, then you’re going to go through that, and then you’re going to hit another spell. Then you have to be able to bounce back from that spell. It’s all a part of the maturation process with a QB, but Jacob’s showing all the right signs.”
— It's not all jump balls and touchdowns for Strachan, who has been one of the high points of camp. There are growing pains as well. Although he does something positively noteworthy every day (today's red zone touchdown), he did drop a beautifully thrown ball by Eason deep down the left sideline during 11-on-11s. The play would've gone for at least 40 yards had it been complete. After the play, you could see Wentz coaching Strachan up on the sideline, giving him pointers on how to better run the route.
— Rookie DE Kwity Paye missed a little time recently with an ankle injury but he returned on Tuesday, and then looked like the monster we've grown to observe throughout camp on Wednesday. He had three notable would-be sacks plus another pressure. He continues to have his way with the Colts' first-team left tackle, no matter who it is. Today, it was Julién Davenport.
— While All-Pro DT DeForest Buckner is always providing some sort of push to the pocket or pressure on the quarterback, Wednesday he had a nice swatted pass at the line of scrimmage vs. Ehlinger. The ball never stood a chance as it left the rookie's right hand.
— After dominating in joint practices and the preseason game against the Carolina Panthers, DT Andrew Brown kept it up on Wednesday with a sack of QB Brett Hundley. Hundley would also go on to get group-sacked, which I consider being too many defensive participants to credit just one. In this instance, the pocket collapsed and surrounded him. DT Chris Williams also had a quality pressure during 11-on-11s to flush the quarterback out of the pocket.
— I get asked a lot about who would be a gunner or fill a significant special teams role in the event the Colts part ways with WR Ashton Dulin during roster cuts. The Colts had a couple of weeks to figure things out while Dulin recently missed time with a hamstring injury (he recently returned), but I made sure to observe who was acting as punt coverage gunner today: Dulin, S George Odum, CB Isaiah Rodgers, DB Andre Chachere, WR DeMichael Harris, WR Dezmon Patmon, Strachan, CB Anthony Chesley, and CB Holton Hill.
— On the subject of punt coverage, acting as the personal protector, in order, were S Khari Willis and S Shawn Davis. Rodgers and WR Tyler Vaughns returned punts in Hines' absence.
What did you think of Day 16 of #ColtsCamp? Drop your thoughts below in the comment section!
Miss Anything During Camp? We've Got You Covered!
- Day 1: First Look at Wentz, More
- Day 2: Wentz, Eason Make Strong Impression
- Day 3: Eason Gets First-Team Reps, Young Pass Rushers Shine
- Day 4: Eason Starts Slow but Rebounds, Okereke Stars
- Day 5: Eason/Wentz Update, Defense Thrives While O-Line Flounders
- Day 6: Defense Continues Domination
- Day 7: Eason Bounces Back, Banogu On Fire
- Day 8: Young Pass-Catchers Stacking Good Days
- Day 9: Eason, Ehlinger Let Loose
- Day 10: Defense Piles Sacks, Ehlinger Shines
- Day 11: Eason/Ehlinger Split with 1s, Leonard Returns
- Day 12: Light Work, Short Day as Colts Prepare to Host Panthers
- Day 13: Eason/Ehlinger Impress vs. Panthers, Defense Sets Tone
- Day 14: Tempers Flare, Ehlinger Excels Under Pressure
- Day 15: Eason Builds On Sharp Preseason Performance