Early Observations from Indianapolis Colts Training Camp
After the months of waiting, teams around the league are finally kicking off football activities and beginning training camp. The Indianapolis Colts opened up on Sunday July 28, and they've already been quite busy.
Training camp is a time for the veterans to get back in the swing of the things, but it's more important for the younger guys. Rookies are looking to find a place with the team, and they fight as hard as they can to earn a spot on the final roster by the time the regular season begins.
In just a few days, there has already been quite a bit to talk about in Anderson, Indiana. Keep in mind that although some players are looking good and some are struggling, camp has been going on for just a few days and success in camp won't necessarily translate to the regular season. Still, it's understandable for fans to be eager and excited with some of the new faces on this team.
I was able to attend camp on Tuesday and was able to make some of my own observations from the day as well. Others have been able to fill me in while I've been away, but the day I spent there provided me with some invaluable information about the team.
With that being said, here are some of the earlier observations at Colts camp.
Griff Whalen Turning Plenty of Heads Once Again
Photo courtesy of Colts.com
Fans began to fall in love with Griff Whalen during the 2012 training camp and preseason, but an injury sidelined him before he had a shot to make the final roster.
This year, however, it looks like he will have a spot on the team once it's all said and done.
Whalen has been the star of training camp in many fans' eyes. According to Tom James of the Tribune-Star, head coach Chuck Pagano has been praising Whalen for his performance so far at camp.
I'll admit that I was on the Whalen bandwagon before I saw him in person, and being at camp on Tuesday only strengthened my support. He has very soft hands and seems determined to catch everything around him. He made two very nice plays in the back of the end zone on Tuesday, making sure to get both feet were in bounds while bringing in the catch on two nicely run fade routes.
Sure, Whalen may be getting overhyped at this point, but he continues to make plays and hasn't made any noticeable mistakes up to this point. Fans and coaches loved watching him play last season, so a lot of people are quite excited with his reemergence.
As long as Whalen stays healthy and continues to practice at this level, he will have a spot on the team.
Khaled Holmes Carted off Field
Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports
Injuries have taken training camps around the league by storm this season. Although no one on the Colts has gone down with a season-ending injury at camp up to this point, there was some bad news from camp on Tuesday.
Khaled Holmes, the team's fourth-round draft pick back in April, came up limping after a play on Tuesday. The training staff quickly came to him and took him off of the field moments later in a cart. It was clear that he was trying to stay off of his right foot when the training staff was looking at him.
Mike Chappell from the Indianapolis Star confirmed what a lot of people saw, reporting that it was a right ankle injury. Unfortunately for Holmes, this is the same ankle that he had trouble with during his time at USC. What's worse is that without Holmes to back up Samson Satele at center, a lot of attention is being turned toward the trade of A.Q. Shipley from a couple months ago.
Depth is a big question mark for the Colts on the offensive line this year, and having a guy like Holmes already hurting isn't a good sign.
Coby Fleener Looks Primed to Break out in 2013
Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports
Coby Fleener has been the guy that a lot of people are expecting to break out in 2013, and training camp has supported that claim up to this point.
Andrew Luck has found Fleener a number of times at camp, with Craig Kelley from Colts.com reporting that Fleener had caught a total of 16 passes in the first three practices. He had a very good day once again on Tuesday, catching six passes, including one for a touchdown, according to George Bremer of the Herald Bulletin.
From what I saw on Tuesday, the Colts were using Fleener in a variety of ways. He lined up on the line, in the slot and even on the outside. He made good plays on the ball and moved around very well out there. Also, I've always known that Fleener was tall, but I never realized how tall. He was towering over most of the team at practice.
Assuming he stays healthy, Fleener will get plenty of opportunities this year to make plays.
Daniel Adongo Becoming a Local Celebrity
Image courtesy of SI.com
After the Colts waived tight end Weslye Saunders a few days ago, the team brought in Daniel Adongo, a Kenyan rugby player.
It's been quite a journey for Adongo. According to George Bremer, Adongo, who had never played a down of football, had to get help learning to put on pads. At 6'5'' and 257 pounds, he certainly has the physical traits you look for in a linebacker, but he is going to need a lot of help learning the game and becoming a football player.
Still, that hasn't kept the media from falling in love with him. A recent tweet from the Colts' Twitter account showed the media surrounding Adongo just before camp began. Stories about Adongo's journey have been featured on the local news as well as in the Indianapolis Star.
One of the stranger things I noticed at camp was at the end of the day. After practice, players went to sign autographs. A lot of kids were chanting for Luck, and when he came over people swarmed him by the fence. What was surprising was that besides Luck, the biggest crowd for an autograph was for Adongo, with Pat Angerer in a pretty distant third.
Tom James reported that Ryan Grigson believes Adongo will likely be on the practice squad for the entire year, which would be a huge victory for the former rugby star. Regardless of what happens to Adongo, fans have already come to love the new addition to the team.
Fullbacks Are Going to Be Used in New Offense
Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports
I saw something I don't know if I ever saw while Peyton Manning played in Indianapolis.
A traditional I-formation with a dedicated fullback.
Yes, the new "No Coast Offense" appears to include plenty of snaps for the fullback, who will likely be Stanley Havili once the regular season begins. Tom James confirmed the use of the fullback position in the new offense at the beginning of camp.
The team was using both Havili and undrafted free agent Dan Moore in the offense quite frequently. The offense utilized them quite well, with the fullback going out for passes and both guys making a few plays on the day. One of the more interesting events of the day was Luck checking out of a play and sending Havili out wide, as confirmed by Stampede Blue's own Andrew Mishler.
The Colts have very rarely used a fullback in the past decade, but now it seems that a guy like Havili may be seeing plenty of snaps in 2013.