ANDERSON – Who said the feeling of an autumn Friday night of high school football can be forgotten after a few years on the big stage.
It certainly hasn’t for Cory Redding as the Colts hold one of their most popular practices on Tuesday.
“Any time we’re under the lights, you kind of get the hair on the back of your neck standing up a little bit,” said Redding of the night practice. “Kind of get the jitters. It’s almost like Friday night lights football all over again.”
It will be the only time the Colts can have that type of experience during training camp this season as the team holds its first and only night practice in training camp at Anderson University Tuesday night. The rest of the sessions until the breaking of camp on August 16th will take place in the morning or afternoon.
“Guys get a little extra boost in the way they carry themselves,” said tight end Dwayne Allen. “You’ll see them walking out to the field with a little umph in their step and definitely whenever they get to running around, you can definitely feel it on the field, feel the energy and it comes from the lights.”
Head coach Chuck Pagano counts on that happening for the two-and-a-half hour session on Tuesday after what he saw a few months ago out of his team with a similar unique practice.
“Yeah, it’s like when we went in minicamp, we got in the stadium for that practice,” said Pagano. “And any time you go under the lights, like we just talked about, the hair on the back of your neck seems to stand up. There’s a little bit more excitement, the fans in the stadium, all those types of things.
“So it brings a little added extra energy to the game.”
DHB Gets an MRI
The most concerning injury for Colts fans so far during training camp is that of receiver Darrius Heyward-Bey, who left Sunday’s practice with a knee sprain.
He was standing on the sidelines during practice on Monday and later on had an MRI on his knee, which Pagano said brought some positive news.
“He had all the tests and they came back negative which is great for us,” said Pagano of Heyward-Bey. “He’s day-to-day and everybody else is trending in the right direction that’s missing time.”
The Playing Time Question
As the Colts’ first preseason game approaches, the question of how many snaps some of the team’s starters might see against the Bills on Sunday.
The initial indication: Not too much.
While few coaches have put a solid number on exactly how much the first teams will play at Lucas Oil Stadium, but when asked about Andrew Luck’s odds of playing a lot, Pagano was blunt.
“No,” said Pagano when asked if Luck would play a lot. “I’m sure someday he’ll be calling all the shots around here but going into his second year we still have some control over his play time, so we’re going to do our due diligence and be smart about guys like Andrew and Robert (Mathis) and Cory, seasoned veterans that got a lot of snaps and a lot of time in over their career. We’ll be smart about that.”
One thing that is guaranteed is that the rookies will see plenty of playing time along with a majority of the backups. Such action can be a major change for those in their first NFL preseason game or players who see only a couple snaps during the regular season. Redding offered them some simple advice.
“Condition. Condition. Try to get as many plays as you can at practice and if you’re not getting enough, run more,” said Redding. “We’re only going to get 10-15 plays maybe, I don’t know what the coaches are thinking, for the starters. So everybody who is second string and third string who is really grinding trying to make the team, get noticed, you better be conditioned, because you’re going to play from the first quarter on.
“Don’t be surprised when you’re out there for 40 or 50 plays.”