WESTFIELD, Ind. — The Indianapolis Colts’ offense picked a bad day to have a bad day.
Sunday afternoon’s work at Grand Park Sports Campus unfolded amid searing temperatures and in front of a full-capacity crowd. More than 6,000 fans were on hand for, well, not the offense’s best day.
“Some things to clean up,” Head Coach Frank Reich admitted in his post-practice comments.
He then was asked about a few other topics – the impact of Stephon Gilmore and Yannick Ngakoue, Jelani Wood’s development, etc. – before the offense’s uneven practice again was broached.
“Yeah, I mean we had like five or six dropped passes,’’ he said. “That was more than we have had the whole training camp.’’
During one team session, three of the first five plays included dropped passed. First Jonathan Taylor, then Parris Campbell, finally Kylen Granson. Later, rookie tight end Jelani Woods and wideout D.J. Montgomery. Running back Deon Jackson mishandled yet another in 7-on-7 drills.
The inefficient afternoon also saw running back Nyheim Hines lose a fumble and a pair of botched shotgun snaps between center Ryan Kelly and Matt Ryan.
Reich talked briefly with his team about the quality of Sunday’s practice.
“What we said is when you start the season, you . . . want the arrow just to keep going up, up, up,’’ he said. “It seldom does that.
“We’ll look at film (and) I’m sure there were a lot of good things, but too many dropped passes today and a few miscues here and there. We’ll clean those things up.’’
Ryan has been the catalyst of up-tempo practices and he’s been precise with his passing during 11-on-11 drills. Unofficially, he’s 61-of-81 (75.3%) with no interceptions.
He did, however, suffer his second interception in 7-on-7 work. Gilmore got him when he slashed in front of Campbell. Early in camp, rookie safety Nick Cross made a diving interception of a tipped Ryan pass.
Sunday wasn’t up to anyone offensive standards, including Ryan’s.
“I mean, certainly mistakes by all of us as well. It’s part of it,’’ he said. “That’s why we practice. We’re out here pushing ourselves to get better and to improve. We’ve had some really good days. We’ve had some days where we haven’t been quite up to the standard.
“That’s how this season is going to go. It’s not going to be just smooth sailing all the way. Days like today are good to learn from. Whenever you go back and watch the practices, yeah there are things that we can clean up, but a lot of good things we did as well.
“And our defense is playing well and that’s good to see. They got us a few times today, we got them a few times. But that’s what good teams do. There is back and forth and give and take.’’
Ryan makes it a point not to overreact to a dropped pass.
“Physical mistakes happen,’’ he said, adding the objective is to limit them. “It’s not even drops. I mean, it’s just that kind of stuff in the huddle . . . is always like, ‘Put it behind you, let’s go. Next play.’’’
It’s the mental mistakes and botched assignments that can be more concerning.
“The mental mistakes are more the things I get hung up on, and those are things we have to nip in the bud,’’ Ryan said. “Those are things we can control. We’re all human. There is going to be times where you make a mistake; I’m going to throw a bad ball.
“The mental mistakes for me are the ones that we can control. It’s more of, ‘Come on, man, we’ve got to get it right. We expect better.’’’
Ryan on the preseason
Reich plans on playing his starters a bit more than usual during the upcoming preseason, beginning with Saturday at Buffalo, and that apparently is fine with Ryan.
“I’ve always felt it was important,’’ Ryan said. “Different coaches and different years have different points of emphasis, but I’ve always felt like there is a lot of work that gets done this time of year, some of it in games, some of it in practices.
“So, I don’t really think my approach has changed all that much throughout my career. I’ve always liked getting out there and getting some reps and doing those kind of things, but that’s not my call. That’s up to Frank and Chris and they’ve got to determine what’s best for the team.’’
Ryan didn’t step on the field for Atlanta during the 2021 preseason.
Quote of the day, Part I
Reich on the presence of Gilmore: “I can just tell you from a quarterback’s perspective, he’s the kind of cornerback you fear.’’
Quote of the day, Part II
Veteran defensive tackle Grover Stewart on how much he needs to play in the three preseason games: “It really don’t matter how much I play, but a couple of quarters to make sure I still got it. Choke some guys out and get out of there.’’
If you were wondering, he started and ended his comment with a laugh.
Play of the day
Everything wasn’t a negative for the offense. Backup quarterback Nick Foles and wideout Ashton Dulin provided one of several highlights.
Dulin was single-covered by cornerback Chris Wilcox on the left side, and Foles offered a nice pump-fake and Dulin blew past Wilcox.
Foles hit him in stride for a long TD.
You can follow Mike Chappell on Twitter at @mchappell51.