Training camp is finally upon us. Football, at least in a sense, is here. After the arrival of 13 coaches and 90 players, including the recent annual tradition wherein Reggie Wayne makes a grand entrance on Saturday, camp began in earnest, and with some of the nicest weather in recent memory for the start of football (practice) in Indianapolis.
New Offense on Display
Accuracy: Andrew Luck, who completed just under 65% of his passes yesterday, called the new offense detailed and exact. Offensive Coordinator Pep Hamilton elaborated, saying, “I think our system is predicated on being detailed and exact. We’re going to pride ourselves on not wasting plays and capitalizing on all opportunities, not just big-play opportunities. We feel like a big-play opportunity for us is a third-and-goal. It’s going to be fun to really get back on the grass and really zero in on the things that we need to do to be good, to be efficient and to be successful as an offensive unit.”
As far as honing that precision is concerned, Andrew Luck and his receivers have worked together quite a bit during the offseason. When asked for more details, he added, “It was down in Miami. It was Reggie (Wayne), Lavon (Brazill), and T.Y. (Hilton). Out in California, Griff (Whalen) and Darrius Heyward-Bey was out there cleaning up his Bay Area move out here. Tight ends and running backs have all been around here. Butler’s always been very kind to us and allowing us to use their facility.” I can’t help but to love that work ethic. But wait, no Reggie Wayne for the California workout? “No,” Luck laughed, “Reggie, he doesn’t need to fly to the West Coast. Reggie’s good enough.”
Fullbacks: Yep, there were fullbacks. My, how things have changed. The last time Indy used a fullback extensively was when they ran the West Coast in the 90’s under Coaches Ted Marchibroda (“Let ‘er rip, Jim”) and Lindy Infante. Fullback Zack Crockett, one of the heroes of the Colts ’95 playoff run, had 130 carries for 469 yards and a touchdown during his time with Indy (1995-98). They’ve been scarce ever since, but now there shall be a fullback, and the Colts have a battle between two athletic ones in Dan Moore and Stanley Havili.
“I think we have to have a true sense of balance in our offense,” Pep Hamilton said about using fullbacks. “We got to be able to run the football as well as pass the football. We’re going to do whatever we need to do to score ultimately but a fullback, for us, being able to run the power schemes, being able to run the football, is a prize piece in our offense.”
Run, run, run: Pep talks a great deal about running the football. Try not to cascade into a worry spiral, fearing that Indianapolis will be running some kind of 1950's offense. They want to improve in formerly weak area and take pressure off the passing game. Their greatest weapon is, after all, a quarterback. Nevertheless, the offensive lineman and their coach certainly like the sound of all this run talk.
“If you look at Pep’s background and what he did, we are going to run the ball,” said Offensive Line Coach Joe Gilbert, who was careful to mention the passing game as well. “We’re going to hang our hat on it. I think by running the football we have to be efficient. There’s no question. That’s going to take some pressure off of Andrew (Luck). We’ve got some great running backs. I really feel if we can line up in a third-and-medium or third-and-short, we’re going to have a chance to be very successful where Andrew takes the game over. We got to do our part on first and second down.”
Notes from Sunday’s Practice
PUP's: On Saturday, the team placed defensive end Fili Moala (knee surgery recovery) and inside linebacker Pat Angerer (foot surgery) on the physically unable to perform (PUP) list, joining running back Ahmad Bradshaw (foot) in the training room.
Touchdowns: According to Colts.com’s Craig Kelley, Andrew Luck threw two touchdowns, a 20-yarder to tight end Coby Fleener, and a short pass to wide receiver T.Y. Hilton. But the crowd was also treated to a touchdown by…reserve tackle Bradley Sowell, from Pat McAfee on a fake field goal; as well as cornerback Cassius Vaughn, when he picked off Matt Hasselbeck and took it 20-yards to the house.
New Offense: No offense, but if you haven’t heard there’s a new offense, I’m offended…
We Can Rebuild Him: Participating in practice for the first time in a while yesterday was offensive lineman Ben Ijalana. Once viewed as a guy with serious starter potential, Ijalana has been besieged with injuries and bad luck, including a sports hernia, two hip surgeries, and two ACL injuries – one of which came on the opening day of training camp last year.
Nobody’s pretending he has the potential he once possessed, but it’s hard not to wish for the best for such an upbeat, likeable player. Here’s a link to The Indianapolis Star’s Phil Richards’s recent story on Ijalana. Mike Chappell has a good one too, somewhere in the paid archives.
A Few Good Quotes
Tomorrow, we’ll talk defense a bit more, but for today, we’ll wrap up with a few other good quotes.
Safety Antoine Bethea, after being asked if starting camp is the best way to celebrate his birthday: “Thank you, thank you. I appreciate that. If you say so (laughs). No, I’m most definitely excited to be here and get the season started. Looking forward to a great one.”
Bethea on whether this year’s version could be the most physical defense he’s on which he’s played: “I think it can. We’ve been talking, it maybe was my second year when it was myself, Bob (Sanders), Kelvin (Hayden), Marlin (Jackson), we had some physical guys on the defense. But with LaRon (Landry), Vontae (Davis), Greg (Toler), really our whole defense, we have something special I think.”
Left Tackle Anthony Castonzo, on feeling like a vet now: “I do, like I said it’s my third camp and I feel like a veteran now. Definitely going to have to take more of a leadership role and just hit the ground running. There is no time to really adjust because I have had two years of that. It’s definitely time to get it done early and often.”
Castonzo on if there’s anything special he brings to training camp: “No, basically all I have is clothes and an alarm clock and my football stuff. There really is nothing else more other than that; it’s all football all the time.”
Outside linebacker and former rugby player, Kenya’s Daniel Adongo on watching NFL games: “I watched a few games, probably just like everyone else who’s a supporter, just not an avid supporter. In South Africa, you watch the Super Bowl, the conference games. I’ve watched a couple of videos.”
Adongo on coming to America (No, not the classic Eddie Murphy movie): “It’s a good country, good people, very hospitable people. I’m glad to be here. It’s going to be my home for a decent amount of time.”
Cornerback Greg Toler on the front office looking far and wide for talent and potential: “Most definitely and I am a big believer in that. Coming from a Division-II school, they were always saying that the school is too small to even get noticed. I always just kept my head down, worked one day at a time and it worked out.”
The Colts practice again today from 1:50-4:30, and Colts City will be open from 12:30-5:00, according to their posted schedule.
All quotes and practice note information is courtesy of the Indianapolis Colts Public Relations Department.
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<i>"Try not to cascade into a worry spiral, fearing that Indianapolis will be running some kind of 1950's offense."</i>
Run run run??!! I'm freaked OUT at this 1950's offense, man! (*freaks out in his chair*)
Ok, jokes aside: As said before, what matters is that runs are effective. As long as that's the case, then I have no problem with the coaching staff shoring up the run game. You have to have trust that they'll know what they have in Luck and won't waste any of that. To be a smart coach, you have to be able to recognize that sort of talent. And I've seen nothing that tells me either Pagano or Hamilton are dumb - quite the opposite, in fact. So I most certainly trust the coaching staff to do what's best.
This is great stuff. About this time last year I was reading similar things, thinking... maybe six wins. We can get seven. Wouldn't it be awesome if we go 8-8? Then I put on my Nate Dunlevy hat and had to splash some water on my face. Come back to reality; maybe five wins. That was a year ago.
This year, well, I'm still really optimistic. As the smart guys have said repeatedly, they can improve quite a bit and still have a worse record. Fine with me, just so they improve faster than the other guys are. A D that really hammer guys? Cool. A balanced O (and by that I mean, there is a threat in both directions, not just a run/pass balance where the runs get three yards every time) would be excellent. So many things up in the air, but a wild card slot is there for the taking. Maybe more, but that would be pretty surprising. I love surprises.
"Run, Run, Run.... Try not to cascade into a worry spiral, fearing that Indianapolis will be running some kind of 1950's offense"
Thanks Marcus! I had already started to hyperventilate a little.
On the note about old school offense, have you read Chris Brown's piece on the Pop Warner Offense? It has in interesting take on the ol' single wing.
So much to get excited about, but I really like what AB said about the D Backfield (and the D) being something special.
@hanksterOk, it may have been a cheap shot, but one of the comments posted there killed me:
"Another way of looking at this is that even Pop Warner kids can score at will against a Sean Payton-led team."
I shouldn't have laughed... but durn it, I couldn't help myself. I LOL'd. Literally, out loud and everything. :D
@hankster Nay, but I am going to now. Thanks.
@smonroe Same here. The way I look at it is he didn't have to say that. When they go out of their way to say something strongly positive - and we both know he would have said no such thing in last year's training camp, that means there might truly be something special in the works.
@DougEngland Thank you too. Hoping I'll have time to do another one tonight.