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Fan Camp Report – Coltsfanawalt (full)

(Editor’s note:  This is our second entry in the Fan Report Contest.  If you are going to Colts camp, be sure to email us at 18to88@gmail.com with your write up of the experience Again, I apologize for the ‘jump’, but the article is wonderfully long

My wife and our three children accompanied me for our annual pilgrimage to Terre Haute and Colts Training Camp. We went to both practices today (Friday, Aug 7). This year they used the main field in the morning and the other two fields in the afternoon. This was the opposite of what they did last year on the day we were there. We like the other two fields better because, though there is less seating, you can get closer to the players. Autographs happen more over there because of this. Additionally, my two daughters can roam around in such places as under the bleachers, while my wife, son and I can enjoy the practice.

There were so many things I took in, I doubt I’ll remember them all in this report. I should’ve brought a pad of paper for note-keeping, but I doubt I’d have wanted to take my eyes off the field to print my thoughts anyway. So here are some of my observations.

The morning was essentially a walkthrough. No tackling or hard hitting. Just plays being calmly executed. I noticed throughout the day that the starting OL was consistent. Ugoh, Lilja, Saturday, Pollak and Diem. Ugoh dressed down and sat out in the afternoon for some reason, so Federkeil and Hilliard swapped turns filling his shoes. Barring injury, the starting OL seems pretty locked.

Addai and Brown swapped the lead role in the morning, backed up by Hart, Ball and Simpson. In the afternoon, Brown sat out and Addai took the lead. Addai played very well. I was impressed all day. I suppose he will be the primary back with Brown getting a lot of carries as well. Ball looked better than Simpson throughout the day, but Simpson had a couple nice goal line TD runs at the end of the day.

Hart played well in the first practice and part of the second. Then, during a drill between LB and RB/TE (where the offensive guy protects the QB from tha pass rush), Hart injured his ankle. The way he acted indicated it could be serious. Next thing we know, he was running back onto the field and into the practice drills. However, by the end of practice he had an ice pack secured to his ankle. I hope he is okay. I really like Hart and would hate to see him lose his spot because of health. I think this one was minor.

Sorgi, on the other hand, may be in serious trouble. He was handing off to Chad Simpson on a stretch play, and he really had to stretch to get it to #35. He did make the handoff, but went down hard and came up in serious pain, holding his thigh. It looked like a hamstring injury. They had to cart him back to the building. Curtis Painter must have felt an instant sense of opportunity.

Speaking of Painter, he was a mixed bag. I thought he was underwhelming until later in the day, when he made a couple nice TD passes in goal line drills. He also made a couple good downfield completions under pressure. One long one to Tamme stands out in my mind. However, the impression was tempered when he threw a pick six to Hagler on the last play of the day. He’s a rookie, but I think we may finally have someone who can unseat Sorgi in time. And if Sorgi’s injury is serious…

TEs Clark and Tamme stood out with great catches several times. Santi and Robinson didn’t ever catch my attention. Petrowski did with a nice TD, though. I knew Clark was good, but Tamme really left a positive impression.

The wideouts ran several drills besides the scrimmage plays, so I  had a great chance to observe and form an opinion of their performance for the day. No surprise, Wayne and Gonzo run great routes and have excellent hands. Collie was a pleasant surprise. He will be special. I think he will impact faster than we think. Garcon made some nice plays in drills, although he did have one easy drop. In actual coverage situations, he failed to be special, even having another drop. Early in the day I became psyched about Taj Smith, but as the day came to an end, I felt that way about Roy Hall. Hall had a couple drops and sloppy moments, but in the end he had some nice catches while being covered in scrimmage. One was a great TD catch. If we only keep five receivers, Taj needs to play very well to hope for a spot, methinks. That could happen, though. I like the kid. I call practice squad.

The defense was more complex than I have seen from the Colts. They ran a lot of plays with five linemen. They also kept mixing the personnel, so it was hard to get a good bead on everything. The DT that seemed to play the most was Ed Johnson. I saw a good amount of the other DTs, but Ed was nearly always in there. We were also treated to heavy doses of Adrian Grady. And plenty of Foster. By the way, Foster played a good amount of fullback. He even had two TD catches in goal line drills. He played nearly as much FB as he did DT today.

Curtis Johnson put in the most time at DE. Didn’t notice much of Freeney until the last half of the afternoon practice. Brock and Mathis interchanged a lot. Dawson played DE. Saw a little Marcus Howard, but Curtis Johnson always seemed to be playing, like Ed Johnson did in the interior. The DEs lined further than usual off the DTs it seemed, especially on the left side. At one time it looked like Moala was playing LE for several plays, but after a while I realized that they were using Mathis as a fifth linemen and he was spaced a bit further than usual from the rest. This defense under Coyer has shown some intriguing looks so far.

Nothing about the cornerbacks grabbed me. Powers impressed the most. He’s another rookie that flashes some real potential. Jennings was usually on the primary receiver for unknown reasons. Hughes also filled that role. Hughes seems improved to me.

The starting LBs appear to be Session, Brackett and Wheeler. They were always in with first team defense. I remember seeing Senn and Tauiliili in sub packages more than I noticed the others, including Keiaho and Hagler. Hagler did have that big interception at the end of practice. When I did see him play, he looked good.

Peyton Manning had some underthrows and some amazingly great throws. I hear he looked better today than he has so far this training camp. He’s shaking off a little rust and making some amazing throws. He made a perfect throw in tight coverage to Wayne, and Wayne just dropped it. Reggie was frustrated with himself on that one. Also, late in the final practice Powers made a great play by breaking up a Manning throw to Wayne. Two plays later, Manning threw a remarkable TD to Wayne despite solid coverage by Powers. It seemed to be a good sparring match with those two on that series.

Manning’s favorite target of the day by far was Clark. Clark had a couple of great TD catches, and he and Tamme were the standouts in the scrimmage plays.  Manning operated in a lot of 3 TE, 2RB sets with Foster. They also did some 1 WR, 2 TE, 2 RB sets with Foster. Let me say again that Addai did it all very well today. He ran great, blocked well, and caught naturally.

The new special teams coach is loud and energizing. His unit is fun to watch in practice. McAfee is the best punter: most consistent, most distance, most hang time. Andrus is a very serviceable
kicker if needed, So is McAfee. He was splitting the uprights from deep, like fifty-plus yards. McAfee is very likable too. He had some great interaction with the fans during the first practice. Which reminds me, Wayne and Collie connected with the fans well from on the field at times.

There was plenty more I could say, but this is getting too long as it is. These are some of my observations and recollections from a fun day at training camp with my family. Although we got cut off at the autograph tent because of the long line, my son received signatures from Coach Caldwell, Peyton Manning, Curtis Painter and Justin Snow on the sidelines. Snow impressed me with his tenderness to a sickly young man in a wheelchair. So did Painter. Caldwell was nice to come over and oblige every interested person. Peyton Manning is the best, though. He’d stay on the field longer than most everyone else, give interviews after that to the mob of press, and then sign autographs forever. For the player who has the most reason to isolate himself, Peyton never shows it. No one took more time for the fans than #18.

Let me recommend training camp to any enthusiast like me. If anyone hawks over the Colts sites for off-season nuggets, they’d find training camp to be a gold mine. I wish I could go more than once a year, but that once is a highlight for me and mine.

DZ comments: Thanks.  Wonderful work!