Like most practices, the Colts spent the beginning working on special teams, but seemed to add an extra period or two to break down specific parts of the kicking game.
Second-year punter Pat McAfee, who has quickly become a fan favorite during his short time in Indianapolis, wowed the crowd with punt after punt of 50-plus yards with substantial hangtime. But the practice wasn't all about the "third phase" of the game.
Donning shoulder pads, the first units for the offense and defense got to square off against one another for the first time at full speed. Despite this, there was relatively little hitting, with players simply touching players "down" most of the time.
Several players — including Jeff Saturday, Ryan Diem, Joseph Addai, Bob Sanders and Ervin Baldwin — sat out of Monday's afternoon practice, although Jim Caldwell indicated that in some cases, that is by plan.
"We do have quite a few guys who we are monitoring," Caldwell said. "We don't have many two-a-days in the system that we're using. We have just a couple. So, all those days when we do have two practices we're going to juggle those guys around. Some will practice in the morning and some will practice in the afternoon. It keeps some balance in the squad."
Indeed, some players that missed the morning practice, like Dwight Freeney, Brody Eldridge and Adam Terry, were able to take part in the afternoon practice. First-round draft pick Jerry Hughes, who signed his contract Monday, was also at practice, although I didn't see him.
Some more quick-hit thoughts from the afternoon practice:
During seven-on-seven drills, he caught three of Peyton Manning's 10 completions (on 11 attempts), including one down the right side for a touchdown and hauled in a wobbly Manning throw with a diving catch for a long gain.
During full team drills, Gonzalez was also active, working again mostly on the right side where he was slated to start in 2009. I did wonder where Pierre Garçon was: after a standout morning practice, he didn't do much in the afternoon. Except ...
The Colts own defensive players even got frustrated at the seamless attack Manning and Co. were throwing at them Monday. Kelvin Hayden, slipping to his knees after Garçon shook him off on one play, pounded the ground after yet another completion.
I'm not big on predictions, especially so early on (hey, it's only been one day) but the potential is there for the Colts' offense to have an exceptional season, even for their high standards. Like, 2004-type exceptional.
Speaking of Ugoh, I did watch him a bit during pass-rushing drills, where he was again playing left guard. He did a very nice job fighting off Daniel Muir.
I mentioned Jaimie Thomas getting better of John Gill in the morning session. Thomas is a player with great size (6-feet-4, 330 pounds) and I believe he'll end up playing a lot somewhere, someday. But Muir got the better of him this afternoon on one play, with a powerful rip move that left the second-year guard clutching at thin air. Muir seems to just get quicker and quicker — he's a project that has really seemed to pan out for the Colts.
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