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2021 Colts Training Camp Journal, Day 8: Young Pass-Catchers Stacking Good Days

The Colts returned to the practice field on Friday after their day off, and the focus continued on the quarterback group. Some young pass-catchers also stacked another positive day.

The Indianapolis Colts returned to the practice field on Friday after taking a players' day off on Thursday.

They were back in helmets and shells so it wasn't as physical of a practice as we've seen throughout the week.

The focus continues to be on the quarterbacks in the absence of starter Carson Wentz. Plus, some pass-catchers continue to turn heads.

All that and more in Friday's Day 8 "Colts Training Camp Journal."

TEAM

— The following players did not participate in practice Friday: QB Carson Wentz (foot), WR Ashton Dulin (hamstring), S Shawn Davis (hamstring), LB Darius Leonard (ankle), 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).

— Starting FS Julian Blackmon was in practice early but didn't last long, as he left for the sideline and was given an ice wrap for his right knee.

— RB Jordan Wilkins (hamstring) returned after missing the last two practices.

OT Julién Davenport, DE Al-Quadin Muhammad, and CB Xavier Rhodes made their return from the Reserve/COVID-19 list this morning. In related moves, the Colts placed WR J.J Nelson on Injured Reserve, ending his season. They also waived QB Jalen Morton and DB Rolan Milligan.

— In 1-on-1 drills pitting wide receivers/tight ends vs. defensive backs, the offense won by a score of 14 reps to 9. I scored an offensive win by catches and defensive wins by any incompletion. Here's how it went: Jack Doyle def. Khari Willis; Zach Pascal def. Anthony Chesley; Mike Strachan def. Xavier Rhodes (penalty); Tarik Black def. Rock Ya-Sin; Farrod Green def. Andre Chachere; Parris Campbell def. Nick Nelson; T.J. Carrie def. Quartney Davis; Holton Hill def. Gary Jennings; Jordan Thomas def. George Odum (penalty); Chesley def. DeMichael Harris; Marvell Tell III def. Nyheim Hines; Dezmon Patmon def. Isaiah Rodgers; Andrew Vollert def. Ibraheim Campbell; Tyler Vaughns def. Tell; Michael Pittman Jr. def. Kenny Moore II; Sean Davis def. Green; Carrie def. Pascal; Davis def. Nelson; Ya-Sin def. Jennings; Willis def. Thomas; Hines def. Chachere; Chesley def. Campbell; Strachan def. Tell

— This group was only wide receiver and tight ends vs. cornerbacks and safeties, but RB Nyheim Hines saw multiple reps. It was the first time I'd noticed him mixed in with the group so far in camp.

— Some of the more notable wins in this series: In WR Zach Pascal's won rep over CB Anthony Chesley, he made a fingertip catch in the back of the end zone while keeping both feet in bounds, and with Chesley draped all over him. In WR Tarik Black's won rep over CB Rock Ya-Sin, he showed good concentration to focus on the ball as Ya-Sin nearly got his hands on the ball. In WR Parris Campbell's won rep over CB Nick Nelson, he absolutely cooked Nelson from the jump and may have never been within five yards of him after his break. In WR Tyler Vaughns' won rep over CB Marvell Tell III, he gained about five yards of separation after the break and caught the ball in the back corner of the end zone for the score.

— Live 11-on-11 periods focused on the offense operating on first and second downs, being backed up to their own goal line, red-zone work, and ended with a four-minute drill.


OFFENSE

— QB Jacob Eason had a nice day on Wednesday, but he came back to earth a bit on Friday. He was 9-of-15 passing (60.0%) in 11-on-11s with 1 touchdown in red-zone work. He threw the touchdown on a rope to Pascal in the back of the end zone. Most of Eason's completions were either short comebacks to tight ends or dump-offs and screens to running backs. It felt like anything attempted downfield was off-target. While focusing on the short game, Eason only completed two passes to wide receivers, both of which were to Pascal.

— During live portions, Eason held onto the ball for too long and even took a would-be safety from DE Kemoko Turay. A small positive: while he didn't draw any defenders offsides, Eason does have a convincing hard count, which he used while backed up at his own goal line.

— Backup QB Sam Ehlinger's day was just okay, but it reiterated the differences between him and Eason. Ehlinger processes things quickly, has a natural feel for defensive pressure, and gets rid of the ball. His arm strength is the main question, but he did have an impressive throw late in practice where he rolled to his left and threw a crisp pass across his body to the right sideline. It fell incomplete, however, as WR Mike Strachan dropped one he definitely should've had.

— Ehlinger's got his favorites among the second unit as he continues to look for TE Farrod Green often. The pair connected three times during live sessions including a red zone touchdown. The two hooked up for a red zone touchdown in the last practice on Wednesday also. Green continually showing up for Ehlinger might make him a tough cut at the end of the preseason.

— Third QB Brett Hundley made quick work of the defense in the red zone, tossing a touchdown to rookie Vaughns in just a couple of plays.

— Strachan did have that drop late in practice, but Friday was the latest in a string of impressive showings. With multiple quality catches, it was probably his best day yet. First, Strachan had a leaping sideline catch in 11-on-11s where he had to keep his feet in bounds. However, his play of the day was in 1-on-1s against top outside CB Xavier Rhodes. Strachan jumped, twisted himself in the air as he snagged the back-shoulder pass with one hand and got both feet in-bounds.

— Like Strachan, Vaughns is another rookie receiver who has shown out consistently in camp. Vaughns continues to display good route running that gets him separation, and quality hands. Ehlinger and Hundley have relied on him when they need a catch made in live drills.

— Maybe WR Dezmon Patmon read yesterday's stock report, because he came back with a nice performance on Friday. He'd been very quiet throughout camp but made a handful of catches on 1-on-1s and live drills today.

— With Davenport's return to the field, he saw his action as the second-team right tackle. He was joined by Will Holden (LT), Jake Eldrenkamp (LG), Joey Hunt (C), and Will Fries (RG) with the second unit.

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DEFENSE

— With the return of Rhodes, and with Blackmon being out, the first-team defense (base and nickel) was as follows: Tyquan Lewis (LDE), Grover Stewart (DT), DeForest Buckner (DT), Kwity Paye (RDE), E.J. Speed (WILL), Bobby Okereke (MIKE), Zaire Franklin (SAM), Xavier Rhodes (CB), Rock Ya-Sin (CB), Kenny Moore II (slot), Andre Chachere (FS), Khari Willis (SS)

— As mentioned, Turay "sacked" Eason in the end zone for what would've been a safety. I didn't note fellow young pass rusher DE Ben Banogu with any sacks today for the first time in what seems like all of camp, but Banogu did continue to apply legitimate pressure on the backfield.

— During 11-on-11s, WILL LB E.J. Speed had an impressive pass breakup against RB Jonathan Taylor at the goal line that saved a touchdown.

— In the final live session during the offense's four-minute drill, DT Chris Williams and DT Grover Stewart mobbed Taylor in the backfield for a tackle for loss.

What did you think of Day 8 of #ColtsCamp? Drop your thoughts below in the comment section!


SPECIAL TEAMS

— There was no field goal kicking on Friday, but CB Isaiah Rodgers and RB Marlon Mack were the kickoff returners. For Mack, it provides him with an extra role that he used to have as a rookie.


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