I wasn't born in Indiana. I never lived in Indiana. The closest connection to Indiana that I have is the fact that my grandmother grew up there before moving to Arizona after marrying my grandfather.
But, after moving to Michigan back in 2004, I've made the trip down to the Indianapolis area several times. Each trip has been different, but each has been fantastic, and this trip has been no less so far.
It started with skydiving on Sunday morning, Big Hoffa's (A fantastic barbecue recommendation from reader and friend Heath Matthias) on Sunday night, lunch with Bleacher Report colleague Tyler Brooke on Monday, Colts' training camp on Monday afternoon, and dinner with Nate Dunlevy and his family on Monday night.
Let's just say it's been a busy couple of days.
I'll have up a few different posts about the trip and the Colts' training camp, starting with some basic notes and news from Tuesday's camp.
I spend most of my time watching for different lineup and player combinations during training camp, which is what I consider to be the most telling part of the preseason practices. It's very difficult to find anything valuable in training camp, with teams playing without much contact and trying new things so often. One of the things training camp IS good for, however, is finding out how coaches are viewing certain players, depending on where they practice, what formations they're used in, etc.
- With Jerrell Freeman sitting out practice with a shoulder injury and Pat Angerer still on the PUP, both inside linebacker spots were open on Monday, and the Colts are trying just about everybody there. Kavell Conner and Kelvin Sheppard are the two main guys still, but Justin Hickman got a surprising amount of snaps with the first team, and Josh McNary was used a few times as well.
- Emmett Cleary has been used as the second-team right tackle for most of camp, but he was lined up at right guard (with Linkenbach at tackle) on the second team today.
- As he has been for most of camp, Bjoern Werner was in on the nickel defense along with Robert Mathis. Walden started with the regular 3-4 lineup, with Werner playing the rush OLB on the second team.
- Marshay Green ran with the nickel second-team defense, along with Josh Gordy and Cassius Vaughn. He seems to be the frontrunner for the "Darkhorse CB to make the roster" right now.
- Delano Howell was consistently with the second team at safety (along with Joe Lefeged). With John Boyett hurt, that spot was open, and Howell seemed to be locked into that spot, the Colts hay have found a great group to run plays by in 2013.
Here are some more general notes from the day:
- I knew the Colts were moving people around a lot, and Monday was no exception. The offense never lined up in the same formation twice in a row, and the offensive line has embraced Robert Hughes as one of their own.
- Watching Fleener (who is towering on the field) next to Kerwynn Williams (who is diminutive) was hilarious. They ended up standing next to each other a few times, and it was great every time.
- Jabin Sambrano disappointed me today with at least one drop and a quiet day despite multiple targets.
- Moment of the day: When Lanear Sampson's potential touchdown was called out of bounds, the offense exploded with frustration. Reggie Wayne went down to talk to the ref who was closest, and the discussion lasted a good 10 minutes.
- Defensively, the Colts showed a lot of different pre-snap looks, including moving the safeties around a lot. It looks like Greg Manusky will once again be disguising things throughout the season, something he did all of 2012. While it can help at times, it also ended up leaving Bethea in an-in-the-box-SS role more often than I would like, something that happened while paired with Zbikowski a lot last year (which was a bad role for Bethea). One of the most important moves this year is allowing Bethea to play his natural FS role vs forcing him into a strong safety role.
That's it for today, but I'll have another post or two up over the next few days.
Kyle, I enjoyed talking to you and Tyler when my son and I sat behind you at training camp last Monday. It was really great to meet you!
Rating Kyle's visit to Indy on a scale of 1 to 10: (1 being Preseason game 4 against the Bengals and 10 being 2006 AFC Championship Game)
Dunlevy Dinner 10 (Tales of Colts past and Argentina, I'm in!)
Colts Training Camp 7.5 (89 men crashing into one another while one man (Luck) watches and 20 older guys yell at them... Cool!)
Big Hoffa's 6 (I'm sure it is delicious, but since I'm originally from Memphis, TN, well, when you've had the best...)
Tyler Brooke 5.5 (Not familar with Tyler's work, but since it was BR collegues, I'm sure a nice list like "Top Ten Colts third down conversion in the 2nd quarter of the 2011 season" was composed, so that is interesting.)
Sky Diving 1.5 (Boring, and they don't have jump sites in Michigan.)