Indianapolis Colts: Early Training Camp Developments
It’s day three of training camp and the Colts have had one full-speed practice in pads. Today’s morning practice was a walk-through with minimal contact, but head coach Jim Caldwell says this evening’s practice will let the players “go after it.”
Everybody is still being pretty aloof about the third wide receiver position battle, but here are some notes on some other interesting developments:
Defensive Line Competition
The Indianapolis Star is reporting that Keyunta Dawson has been moved to defensive end. Dawson played defensive end in college at Texas Tech so the position is natural to him. Since he weighs about the same as the linebackers on most teams (254 lbs), defensive line coach John Teerlinck is probably the only person on the planet that would consider playing Dawson at tackle anyway.
But this move may have some interesting repercussions for the other defensive linemen trying to make the Colts’ 52-man squad. The team will probably only keep 10 or 11 defensive linemen on the roster. With the glut of new talent at tackle, Dawson’s versatility might guarantee him a slot.
This may mean relegation to the practice squad for some of last season’s prime-time contributors like Daniel Muir and Eric Foster. This could also create some competition for Raheem Brock, who generally plays left defensive end during early downs and obvious running situations.
No matter how the situation shakes out, the competition and depth on the defensive line can only mean good things for Colts fans looking for the team’s run defense to make a drastic improvement from 2008.
Players are adjusting to new defensive coordinator Larry Coyer’s style as a coach and changes in terminology, and after their first full speed practice players also talked a little about some of the playbook changes.
Although Jim Caldwell says that there won’t be drastic personnel or alignment changes, Coyer is installing some new “tweaks” according to safety Antoine Bethea.
“With this new defense you really don’t know what you’re going to get from us,” Bethea said. Adding that some of the changes involve things “teams haven’t seen in the past.”
This could be a reference to the “Show Blitz” system that Coyer implemented in Denver. John Oehser reported that Phillip Wheeler—the Colts projected starting strong-side linebacker—excelled at pass rushing drills in day two’s practice. This is a good sign that Wheeler will be used in some blitz packages this season.
Playmakers Stepping Up
Word from training camp is that Donald Brown is already proving his worth, excelling both in the running game and catching passes.
But players on defense have also been stepping it up, with Clint Session making the biggest hit of camp so far on wide receiver Roy Hall, and Melvin Bullitt making a spectacular interception of a Peyton Manning pass intended for Dallas Clark.
Session's ability to adapt to his new position at weak-side linebacker will be one of the most critical developments in training camp. Cornerback Dante Hughes also made a tough pick during position drills, and could be pushing for the nickle cornerback spot.
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