Yesterday, the Colts held a fan-available practice at Lucas Oil Stadium, where about 7,500 fans came to watch Andrew Luck and the 2012 Colts for the fi'rst tme.
With the abundance of eyes watching the practice, we got a few more things confirmed that may or may not have been assumed by Colts fans previous to Wednesday. Of course, as the headline states, these really are only semi-confirmed, as mini-camp is really just, well, mini-camp. Still, it's nice to see things that we've speculated on confirmed by the practice.
Nate Dunlevy was at Lucas Oil Stadium, and has his own notes up but here are a few interesting notes from other members of the media:
- According to Paul Kuharsky, Coach Chuck Pagano specifically said once again that the Colts' will be running a hybrid 3-4 defense this year. Because of this, the outside linebackers/defensive ends Dwight Freeney and Robert Mathis will spend time working with both the defensive line groups and the linebacker groups. Wednesday, Freeney worked with the defensive linemen and Mathis worked with the linebackers. We've all speculated that the Colts would run a hybrid in 2012, as the Ravens did in 2011 under Pagano as defensive coordinator. However, some have stubbornly insisted upon seeing the defense as a strict 3-4, and it's important to realize that we really won't be able to set strict responsibilities in for defenders until we actually see the defense in action.
- In the same piece by Kuharsky, he mentions that Coach Pagano pointedly noted that Seth Olsen's working with the 1st team offensive line is due to the Colts' staff "monitoring and protecting Reitz’s workload as he’s been nicked." This is something that I sepeculated, as did Phil Wilson of the Indy Star. A few people took Reitz' work on the second team on Tuesday as a sign that he was lagging behind Olsen, but anyone who has watched the Colts over the last few years knows that wouldn't make much sense. Olsen was horrid in limited time last season, while Reitz was arguably the second best linemen on the team in 2011. We know that Reitz was limited in OTAs due to ankle problems, and having him work as part of the second unit is a good way to wean him back into rhythm. While he doesn't have a starting position set in stone, he should have the advantage in the competition for the left guard position.
- Nate may want to say more on this later, but the Colts ran far more 2-TE sets Wednesday than they did in OTAs, likely because Coby Fleener is getting up to speed. As I stated on Twitter, I expect the Colts to used Coby Fleener split out a lot this season, almost like a WR (much like the Patriots use Aaron Hernandez. According to our own Nate Dunlevy, this was how Fleener seemed to be used on Wednesday, with Collie and Wayne being the primary receivers. Collie would line up in the slot or outside, depending on where Fleener motioned out to.
- Colts fans aren't entirely incompetent. According to Coach Pagano, the players from last year's team were very grateful for the fans' continued support amidst last year's atrocity. Running back Deji Karim also had great things to say about the fans in Indianapolis, from an opposing player on the Jaguars for the last couple years. Obviously part of this is PR, but it's still interesting to hear. Also, according to Colts Authority reader and friend Jason Owens, WRTV 6 reported that the Colts have less than 1800 season tickets left, meaning they've sold over 1200 in the last few weeks.
- The defensive players, especially guys like Robert Mathis, are having fun with Andrew Luck, at one point chanting Luck's name before the snap. According to George Bremer, Mathis would chant "Andrew," while the rest of the defense responded with "Luck." The fans noticed, and as reader Nick Huffman notes (he attended the practice and noted the defensive teasing): "It's great to see how the veterans -- guys that played with Manning all these years -- are embracing Luck as their new QB." The vets are going to get on Luck for being a rookie, but you can see in their compliments that they're already impressed and ready to move forward with Luck.
- Andrew Luck's arm strength is just fine. According to Kuharsky's notes, Luck could throw the deep ball just fine, and the deep out (requiring zip and accuracy) looked great coming from Luck. Reggie Wayne alluded to it as well, as George Bremer noted (link above), saying that Luck "looks kind of nonchalant, effortless. But he throws a pretty doggone good ball. He has a nice spiral to it, has some zip and he puts it in the right spot. So once we get all our timing down, and we’ll be able to do all that stuff before training camp and throughout training camp, I think we’re going to do some special things.”
If any of you readers were at the mini-camp on Wednesday, please let us know your thoughts in the comments. Those of us unable to make it would love to hear more about how the stadium and experience was, how the practice was, and the general attitude of fans, players, and coaches.
The Colts will conclude their mandatory mini-camp with one more practice today, and then the rookies will have two weeks of time spent in the facility with the coaches, before they're let out until training camp on July 29th.
I think the Luck that we will see at TC will be much better than what we saw at practice and this is understandable. Once he really starts seeing pressure and gets to work on timing with the weapons around him, we will have a better idea of what the early part of this season will look like.
Just one thing to add, he looked excellent going through his progressions, but sometimes took longer than needed but this is probably just something that goes along with mini camp, I expect that it will be much faster when TC comes around.
Dwayne Allen is the real deal. It seemed like he was targeted more than Fleener. Saw Allen catch a TD and jump up on the platform in front of the stands and high-5 a row of kids to great cheers fro the crowd.
Andrew Luck and the receivers were rusty in the early going. Luck was over throwing his guys. Seemed like everyone calmed down by the last half of practice. There's a lot of Wayne in motion plays, and it seemed like he came out of the slot a lot. Of the new guys, Ross, Sambrano, Brazil and Cosby all made really pretty catches.
I will not be disappointed if Darren Evans nabs Carter's spot.
The D-lines did a fair bit of that jump around and confuse you stuff. It looked scary and confusing, fwiw. Bold prediction: Bethea will get sacks this year. He and Hughes got into the back field super fast on a handful of occasions. Nevis was in a boot. Saw Chapman running well without a brace on.
The stadium was beautiful. I walked over from work. Concessions were discounted, and crowd was great. Lots of kids and Andrew Luck jerseys.
@naptown_ninja Was Evans a little banged up? I wasn't there but when they showed him walking off the field it looked like he had a slight limp. It's going to be tough for him to make the roster unless we carry 4.
@smonroe @naptown_ninja Didn't see that, but I did see Collie tweak an ankle at the very end of practice. He got it looked at on the field with media standing around, did his interview and limped off the field. I suspect you're right about Evans. It's the homer in me: I was pulling for him last year too.
Really enjoyed hearing about the defense teasing Luck. Sounds like the team cohesion is going to be fantastic! Luck will thrive on this sort of thing, he understands his position on the team and is much more comfortable in this sort of environment (being one of the guys and "kept in his place") than he is with the hype surrounding him. The team will love Luck and will thrive too. Not expecting a whole lot of wins ths season, but it should be exciting to watch the team develop ... A great ride to get on early and stay on for the next decade and more.