As Colts training camp in Anderson wraps up, we offer some observations
ANDERSON, Ind. – It was moving day at Anderson University Friday as another summer ran its course.
Training camp is over, but serious work remains, beginning with Saturday’s preseason game against the Buffalo Bills.
“We had a really good camp,’’ coach Chuck Pagano said. “I am pleased where we are at as a football team.
“We got a lot of work done. We are excited to go play a game and see exactly where we are at.’’
Camp was a brisk summer walk through Madison County: 11 total practices, including two which were interrupted by rain and/or lightning.
While it’s risky to make snap judgments from training camp where contact is limited, we’ll take the risk. Some observations:
T.Y. ‘special’: Pagano praised T.Y. Hilton in mid-June for having a best-ever offseason, and it didn’t go to Hilton’s head. The two-time Pro Bowl receiver followed up his boffo offseason with a stellar camp.
Luck noticed the crisp route running, the sure hands, the ability to take the top off the defense with his speed.
“Absolutely,’’ he said. “Consistently every day (to) come out and probably be the best player at practice. It feels that way, and that’s what an elite player is.
“I remember being a rookie with T.Y. and watching Reggie Wayne practice every day. He was probably our best player on the field every day, and he practiced like it. From the stories I’ve heard, that was Marvin (Harrison) every day on the practice field making plays and doing it 100 percent and going all out.
“I think T.Y. is carrying on the tradition of great, hard-working, practice wide receivers. He’s special.’’
With Hilton, Donte Moncrief and Phillip Dorsett, the Colts should field one of the best receiving corps in the league. But it all starts with Hilton.
O-line taking shape: The coaching staff insists competition remains at right guard, but it appears the starting offensive line is coming into focus. Barring an injury prior to the Sept. 11 season opener against Detroit, we’re expecting a starting unit of Anthony Castonzo at left tackle, Jack Mewhort at left guard, rookie Ryan Kelly at center, Denzelle Good at right guard and Joe Reitz at right tackle.
Camp opened with Good and Hugh Thornton divvying up snaps at right guard, but Thornton apparently had a setback with a right foot injury that forced him to miss the offseason work. He’s spent the past week with his foot in a walking boot, and wasn’t seen at Thursday’s workout.
The more time Thornton misses, the less likely the 2013 third-round pick is to make the 53-man active roster.
“He was doing well obviously, but he has to stay healthy,’’ Pagano said. “He has to be available and he has to be on the field.’’
Isn’t this an important time for Thornton?
“It is for everybody, yeah,’’ Pagano said.
If we’re handicapping the entire group, we’re high on rookie Joe Haeg, who could emerge as a factor at right guard or serve as Joe Reitz’s backup at right tackle. Jon Harrison also brings versatility (backup guard and center).
One player who clearly is a project is rookie tackle Le’Raven Clark, a third-round pick out of Texas Tech.
D-line getting stressed: We’re expecting a starting line of Zach Kerr at end, David Parry at nose and rookie Hassan Ridgeway at tackle against the Bills. Consider the alignment a result of Kendall Langford being out for up to a month following arthroscopic knee surgery, Art Jones (ankle) being slowly worked into action and Henry Anderson (knee) still on the physically unable to perform list.
Everyone insists Anderson is ahead of schedule from surgery last November to repair a torn anterior cruciate ligament in his right knee, but trust us, the Colts won’t rush him back.
Ridgeway was expected to see significant exposure as a rotational player as a rookie, but that role might expand with the uncertain status of Anderson and Langford.
Medical matters: The injury that drew the most attention was Langford. An MRI revealed a chrondral defect in one of his knees, which required arthroscopic surgery earlier this week.
But two other injury situations caught our eye.
Safety Clayton Geathers wore a boot on his right foot throughout camp after breaking a bone in the foot while working out on his own in July. If he’s able to practice in the next two weeks, he might be ready for the opener. The first step is Geathers getting out of the boot and onto the practice field.
Cornerback D’Joun Smith won’t play against the Bills. His practice reps were limited this week apparently with a knee issue that has limited his availability since being selected in the third-round of the 2015 draft. Smith required knee surgery last September, appeared in only four games and finished his rookie season on IR. He encountered some type of setback that forced him to miss the entire offseason workout program.