Narrowing the Focus

With one week of training camp in the books, the Indianapolis Colts hit the practice field Monday preparing for a new task — the upcoming preseason opener vs. San Francisco on Sunday. Eric Hartz has a report from Monday's practice.

With an opponent on the horizon — the Colts face the 49ers at 1 p.m. at Lucas Oil Stadium — the team worked more on some situations that will occur in a game.


The Colts showed off their throwback helments during practice Monday
AP/Darron Cummings

Usually, that means more of an emphasis on special teams, and we saw the kickoff coverage unit drill, as well as the punt team practice different situations, such as "tight" punt when backed up against their own goal line, and directional punts from midfield. The team will hold a special teams-only workout this afternoon.

With only one full-squad workout the day after a rest day, some players used the morning session for rest. Dallas Clark, Jeff Saturday, Clint Session, Keyunta Dawson, Colin Cloherty, Anthony Gonzalez, Pierre Garçon, and Brandon King were among the players not participating.

Working in pads and shorts and sporting their throwback helmets with dark blue coloring and the horseshoes moved to the back of the head, the Colts still got in some full team work, and here are some notes from the practice:

  • Fans have been pleased to see Bob Sanders apparently fully healthy, and they were even more pleased to see him hitting like the Sanders of old. He smashed Samuel Giguere on an in route during full team drills that got a huge cheer from the crowd. During the same segment, Antoine Bethea made a couple of nice plays, flying up from his safety position to stop a run and a screen pass. Seeing the team's two Pro Bowl safeties playing at a high level has to give fans a thrill going into the season.

  • During the first full-team segment, Joseph Addai got the first carry and took it in for a touchdown. As practice went on, however, it seemed like Donald Brown was the back shouldering the majority of the work with the first unit. While the two backs figure to share the primary ball-carrying duties, keep an eye on this situation to see how it develops as the season goes on.

  • During defensive-offensive line drills, where the offensive linemen tries to protect the "flag" (the quarterback spot), Jerry Hughes was extremely impressive with his speed off the corner. He worked exclusively on the left side this morning, and tackle Chris Marinelli simply couldn't handle him the first two times they went up against one another. The third time, Marinelli was able to corral Hughes' outside shoulder, but the first-round pick still was able to show a good burst, driving Marinelli back.

    I mentioned in a Tweet that I liked Ervin Baldwin's motor, and he was solid today working from the right side in one-on-one drills. Marlon Favorite also made a nice inside rip move on Andrew Tyshovnytsky on one play.

  • From an offensive line perspective, I thought Jaimie Thomas did a nice job handling Daniel Muir in one-on-one drills, although I did see him miss on a block during a screen pass in full-team drills. He pounded the ground in frustration after slipping and falling.

    With Saturday out and Charlie Johnson still out with a foot injury, we saw some different players work with the first-team offensive line. For much of the day, the first unit was Tony Ugoh at left tackle, Thomas at left guard (Mike Pollak played there some as well), Jamey Richard at center, Kyle DeVan at right guard and Ryan Diem at right tackle.

    Ugoh seemed to take the position switch in stride and did a nice job. I was particularly impressed with his speed on one play, getting to the outside on a wide receiver screen. For all the frustration Ugoh has brought to the team and its fans, he still clearly has a lot of athletic ability for his size and the team is really searching to find a role for him.

  • Backup defensive tackle John Gill was absent from practice a day after his arrest for public intoxication in Indianapolis. Team president Bill Polian told team writer John Oehser that "football is not a priority" for Gill, and the team would help him to get treatment for off-the-field problems, although he wasn't likely to be on the field this season.

  • With Saturday out, Richard had a few shaky snaps out of the shotgun.

  • Brandon James certainly seems to be getting most of the reps at punt returner, so keep an eye on him during the preseason opener.

  • Veteran Deshea Townsend made a savvy play on an Austin Collie grab over the middle. As Collie bobbled the ball a bit, Townsend was able to reach out and knock the ball from his hands to force an incompletion.

    In a radio interview after practice, Jacob Lacey praised Townsend's football IQ, saying the longtime Steeler has been a tremendous help to the team's young defensive backs with his knowledge and experience.

That's all for now. Be sure to follow ColtPower.com on Twitter to get all the latest news on camp throughout the week.


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