The Colts finished their first session of offseason team activities (OTAs) last week with a three-day session from May 20-22. They'll have two more voluntary sessions in the next couple of weeks, but even in just three days of work we've gotten some nuggets of useful information.
Of course, take everything with a grain of salt. After all, it's OTAs. Any news here doesn't have near the weight it would if this were training camp.
But, in the midst of the NBA and NHL playoffs, football fans are starved for any news they can get. We're certainly not going to keep it from them.
The Colts' big cornerback signing in free agency to replace former starter Jerraud Powers was Greg Toler, the 28-year-old formerly with the Arizona Cardinals.
Toler's career has been defined thus far by injuries and a nickel/dime role in the Cardinal's cornerback rotation. As he comes to Indianapolis, there are definite questions on whether he'll be able to live up to the three-year, $15 million contract.
Well, if OTAs are any indication, Toler should fit in quite nicely in Indianapolis.
His name was quickly tweeted by beat writers after Wednesday's practice, with a few nice plays in red-zone drills.
Toler broke up passes to Coby Fleener, Darrius Heyward-Bey and T.Y. Hilton before being beaten by Hilton for TD in red zone. #Colts— George Bremer (@gmbremer) May 22, 2013
Toler also earned the praise of his new teammates, with Andrew Luck, Robert Mathis and Antoine Bethea all mentioning him by name in post-practice interviews.
After the draft, the Colts signed several undrafted free agent cornerbacks, including Daxton Swanson of Sam Houston State. He and fellow UDFA Sheldon Price of UCLA both had notable performances in the rookie minicamp a few weeks ago and stand to possibly make the final roster in place of Cassius Vaughn and/or Josh Gordy.
Well, it seems the rookie UDFAs have been impressing in OTAs as well, particularly Swanson with a great play during Wednesday's practice, according to George Bremer of the Herald Bulletin:
One more defensive highlight, CB Daxton Swanson made a nice play to take a TD away from Brazill in the back of the end zone. #Colts— George Bremer (@gmbremer) May 22, 2013
Personally, I'm a fan of both Swanson and Price and would love to see either or both of them make the final roster. It should be an interesting training camp battle.
If you recall, Andrew Luck missed OTAs last season due to Stanford's "quarters" system.
Well this year, Luck wasn't going to miss out on the team's voluntary practices and is reportedly loving the extra time with his teammates.
I think it’s great to get out on the field with the defense and troubleshoot some stuff. Obviously, I guess all of us haven’t run this offense, we ran so much stuff at Stanford. To get out there with the defense and to feel the offense, to troubleshoot some stuff is good. Just to be out on the field with the guys going against something other than air is fun.
Luck was notably impressive during the Colts' 11-on-11 red-zone drills. Although he did throw an interception to newcomer LB Kelvin Sheppard, he ended the drill on a positive note more often than not.
Andrew Luck threw red-zone TDs to Griff Whalen and Dwayne Allen and two to T.Y. Hilton. #Colts
— George Bremer (@gmbremer) May 22, 2013
A few players missed Wednesday's practice, for varying reasons:
#colts held out of OTA for medical reasons: Pat Angerer, Brandon McKinney, Ben Ijalana, John Boyett, Cory Redding, Fili Moala, Delone Carter— Mike Chappell (@mchappell51) May 22, 2013
Among #colts not at OTAs today: Reggie Wayne, LaRon Landry, Robert Mathis, Donald Thomas.— Mike Chappell (@mchappell51) May 22, 2013
It's that second group that I'm interested in. Reggie Wayne and Robert Mathis have routinely worked out on their own before, and both made the effort to come to OTAs last offseason with all of the changes. Donald Thomas missed practice on Wednesday, but was there on Monday and Tuesday.
LaRon Landry, on the other hand, has reportedly been working out on his own, which is a bit of a pet peeve of mine. It's not a big deal when Wayne or Mathis, who are established Colts, work out on their own.
But when Landry, a guy who was just signed to a big contract and is completely new to Indianapolis and the Colts organization, misses practice, he's missing out on chances to get to know his new teammates, coaches and playbook.
It's not something to be incredibly concerned about, but it's a pet peeve of mine.
T.Y. Hilton had an incredible rookie season and looks to be a possible weapon for Luck for years to come.
But in order for him to do that, he has to improve and become more consistent. Hilton was basically a big-play threat last season, and that's it. He'll have to improve his ability to be a consistent short and intermediate threat in Pep Hamilton's offense.
Well, it looks like he's starting to become that threat for Luck, who found him for two touchdowns during the Colts' 11-on-11 drills. Hilton was the only player to get the best of Greg Toler on the day, scoring what George Bremer described as the day's best play:
...the play of the day was a perfectly placed ball on a corner route that Hilton somehow managed to pull down while getting both feet inside the back of the end zone at full speed.
If Hilton could be a threat inside 20 yards, despite his lack of size, his long-term projections as a high-end wide receiver will go dramatically up.