Colts get better of Bears in joint practices

At the end of two days of joint practices, Colts passers threw touchdown passes while the Bears' QBs were being intercepted.

The first-ever joint practice at the Indianapolis Colts complex concluded Thursday with the home team getting the better of the visiting Chicago Bears.

Colts quarterbacks Andrew Luck and Matt Hasselbeck drove their two-minute offenses to touchdown drives, Luck hitting wide receiver T.Y. Hilton and Hasselbeck connecting with rookie Phillip Dorsett on scores.

Bears quarterback Jay Cutler was intercepted by Colts safety Dwight Lowery, then backup Bears passer Jimmy Clausen was also picked off by Colts safety Winston Guy.

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Both teams practiced without incident, which was to be expected considering respective “no-fighting” edicts from the respective head coaches. But the NFL’s recent trend for fighting in joint practices had reporters wondering if the competitive juices might flow too much.

The Bears’ defense had its moments during some drills as Luck was forced to scramble on several plays, thus taking coverage “sacks.” He had said before the practice the emphasis would be on execution during situational drills, and Luck was solid in third-down, red-zone and two-minute situations.

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Colts running back Vick Ballard, who hopes to make his season debut in Saturday night’s preseason game against the Bears at Lucas Oil Stadium, received a heavy dose of snaps during the workout.

Ballard is coming off season-ending injuries in back-to-back seasons. And he knows he needs to play to lock down a roster spot. The fourth-year pro broke down the team huddle during the morning walk-through.

“Those are the type of things that kept me going,” Ballard said. “Sometimes I used to lay in the bed and just question it all. I would just think about me breaking the huddle down at the end of practice and stuff like that.”

The Colts signed running back Frank Gore in free agency and re-signed backup Daniel Herron to go with second-year pro Zurlon Tipton and rookie Josh Robinson. It’s possible the Colts keep four running backs on the final roster, which would mean either Ballard, Tipton or Robinson would be the odd man out.

Luck said of Ballard possibly playing Saturday, “It would be awesome if he got out there. He is such a warrior. He just does everything right, not a good teammate, a great teammate. Seeing him out on the practice field brings great memories of playing together rookie year and him just (making) clutch plays. He blocks like Frank Gore, gets up there and hits people, He is a stud.”

Colts head coach Chuck Pagano reported that offensive guard Hugh Thornton will be week-to-week with a knee injury. He said the setback wouldn’t require surgery. Thornton, a 2013 third-round selection, was practicing with the second team but has started 20 of 24 games in two seasons.

Asked about how Thornton’s absence could impact the Colts’ depth, Pagano alluded to the team possibly needing to add another guard.

“There might be someone coming in the gate right now,” he said.

The team did not announce any roster moves on Thursday.

Cornerback Jalil Brown, who led the Colts with five interceptions during training camp, is also sidelined with a hamstring injury and rookie wide receiver Quan Bray is out with a groin issue. The latter two players are day-to-day.

Phillip B. Wilson can be found on Twitter (@pwilson24), Facebook and Google+.

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