INDIANAPOLIS – Attendance is now required for the Indianapolis Colts in their spring offseason program.
Tuesday was the 7th of 9 OTA/minicamp sessions for the Colts, meaning they do line up offense vs. defense out on the practice field.
This is Phase Three of the offseason program, meaning teams can hold 11-on-11 drills for the first time this offseason. No ‘live contact’ is allowed, and the physicality is expected to be pretty limited in the spring. Full pads are not to be worn.
OTAs (voluntary): May 24-26, June 1-3
Minicamp (mandatory): June 7-9
On Tuesday, the Colts worked outside in a session of more than 90 minutes. The Colts were in helmets, again going full speed in their 7-on-7 work, before toning it back to a walk-through pace in the 11-on-11 portions of practice.
With the conclusion to this week’s minicamp on Thursday, veterans will head their separate ways for a summer break. Rookies will remain in town for one more week of on-field work. The 90-man roster will then reconvene in late July for training camp at Grand Park?
What did we learn from the Colts first minicamp session of 2022?
- While Darius Leonard does not currently need an additional procedure on his injured ankle, he did have back surgery on Tuesday. According to Frank Reich, Leonard has been dealing with some back issues since earlier in the offseason. The back issue has progressed enough that Leonard was out west on Tuesday having a procedure which is expected to sideline him into training camp. Reich said Leonard will miss some time at Grand Park, but the hope is that if everything goes according to plan, Leonard will be ready to go for the September 11th season opener. Obviously, this is concerning—because of the player and the type of injury. Leonard is vital to this defense and now he’s had a couple of different surgeries in the past year. Yes, Leonard’s lingering ankle problems didn’t cause him to miss any games last year, but it still hindered his play at different points. Will 2-3 months be enough time to heal Leonard’s back and be available Week 1? With the ascension of Julian Blackmon this offseason, Leonard’s injury concerns have now risen to the top of the question list entering camp. With Leonard missing time, it will be a golden opportunity for E.J. Speed to get some important reps at camp. On Tuesday, undrafted free agent JoJo Domann had a really nice day with Leonard and Zaire Franklin not participating.
- Kenny Moore’s “holdout” during the voluntary part of the spring work ended on Tuesday. Moore was participating in the first mandatory session of the offseason. Now, Moore’s time on the field didn’t last too long. He exited after the first 7-on-7 session, heading to the sideline with a member of the athletic training staff and did not return. Frank Reich said Moore left due to a precautionary manner. Reich was also asked post-practice if Moore’s contract situation had been “reconciled.” Reich said he wasn’t aware of that. It sounds like Moore will meet the media on Wednesday, which will be the first time he’s talked publicly with the media since his contract issue came to the surface. By practicing on Tuesday, Moore did avoid a fine of just more than $15,000.
- While the Leonard news is less than ideal, things continue to look rosy on the Julian Blackmon return front. Blackmon is not even 8 months removed from his torn Achilles, yet he was taking part in full-speed 7-on-7 work during Tuesday’s session. It’s pretty remarkable watching Blackmon progress through such a serious injury. His presence continues to look promising for training camp and the start of the regular season.
- Rookie wideout Alec Pierce saw the most first-team work of the spring on Tuesday. Pierce had a nice afternoon of work. Frank Reich said after Tuesday’s practice that the head coach was chatting with Matt Ryan on Tuesday about how Pierce is clearly a smart and instinctive player.
- Matt Ryan had another accurate and efficient day of work. Ryan’s timing and throwing with anticipation has been a constant in the various practice viewings this spring.
- Rodrigo Blankenship hears the questions people have on his leg strength. He understands where they come from, but doesn’t think it’s valid, pointing to his college resume. Blankenship was 6-of-9 from 50 yards or longer in college (with a long of 55). He’s just 1-of-4 from 50-plus in the NFL though. Hot Rod said on Tuesday that he feels that his leg strength is good up to 60 yards indoors at Lucas Oil Stadium. Right now, the only kicking competition for Hot Rod this year is Jake Verity, an undrafted free agent in 2021, who was on the Ravens practice squad last season.
- Tuesday was our third media viewing of the 2022 Colts. And there was Isaiah Rodgers again making a terrific play on the ball. Frank Reich is a big fan of the ball skills that Rodgers brings to the cornerback position.
- With Khari Willis not in Indy (see more below), Tuesday was a valuable day of work for rookie Nick Cross. The Maryland product received ample first-team work next to Julian Blackmon. It’ll be interesting to see how the playing time evolves for the 20-year-old rookie.
- In the first mandatory part of the offseason, the Colts did have one absence not injury related. That would be S-Khari Willis. Frank Reich said Willis’ absence is for a personal matter, and is excused, and the head coach remains in constant communication with the 4th year safety. Some guys that were not participating on Tuesday, apparently due to injury, included: RB-Jonathan Taylor (precautionary), LB-Darius Leonard, DL-Tyquan Lewis, OL-Dennis Kelly, WR-Mike Strachan, CB-Tony Brown, WR-Mike Strachan, RB-CJ Verdell, LB-Zaire Franklin.
- Tuesday was the first look at Yannick Ngakoue in a Colts uniform. At 6-2 and 246 pounds, Ngakoue is easily the “smallest” of the Colts starting defensive lineman. Ngakoue will play in the LEO role of Gus Bradley’s defense, with an emphasis of getting after the quarterback. That means Kwity Paye is flipping over to the left side of the defensive line, after playing mostly on the right side last year. Paye says he likes this switch because it favors where more of his power comes from.
- Given the absences listed above, here’s a rough look at the offensive and defensive ‘starters’ at Tuesday’s third media viewing of the 2022 offseason. On offense: QB-Matt Ryan, RB-Nyheim Hines, WR-Parris Campbell, WR-Michael Pittman, WR-Dezmon Patmon, TE-Mo Alie-Cox, LT-Matt Pryor, LG-Quenton Nelson, C-Ryan Kelly, RG-Danny Pinter, RT-Braden Smith. On defense: DE-Kwity Paye, DT-Grover Stewart, DT-DeForest Buckner, DE-Yannick Ngakoue, LB-E.J. Speed, LB-Bobby Okereke, CB-Isaiah Rodgers, CB-Brandon Facyson, S-Rodney McLeod, S-Nick Cross, CB-Anthony Chesley.