Indianapolis Colts Training Camp: Week 1 Stock Report
The Indianapolis Colts are well underway in their 2015 training camp in Anderson, Indiana, with the 2015 season's first night practice taking place on Wednesday.
The Colts are heading into the Ryan Grigson era's fourth season, and many think that this could be a special season for Indianapolis. With the addition of high-profile free agents and the continuing ascent of Andrew Luck, many things seem to be breaking the Colts way.
Colts owner Jim Irsay told media on Wednesday that there is "magic in the air" in Anderson (via Colts.com). It's a sign of Indianapolis' expectations this year, and training camp is the first step.
With a few days of training camp now under the belt, what can we conclude so far?
Contract Negotiations: Up
With infamous agent Drew Rosenhaus, T.Y. Hilton's agent, showing up in Anderson this week, attention began to turn to ongoing contract negotiations. According to Mike Wells of ESPN.com, Rosenhaus' presence was a positive one in regard to Hilton's potential contract:
Rosenhaus and the Colts are in talks about a contract extension for Hilton. Colts owner Jim Irsay told ESPN.com last week that he “can’t see why” they can’t get a deal done for Hilton before Labor Day.
“I don’t want to characterize the negotiations other than we’re working hard at it,” Rosenhaus said. “Talks have been really productive. I’ve got a lot of respect for (general manager) Ryan (Grigson) and Jim. They do a great job. I would guess (Labor Day) would be outstanding. That’s a good time frame.”
Getting Hilton locked down would be a huge weight off the Colts' shoulders. The team has had a mixed bag of draft results over the last few years, and keeping the few studs they have acquired should be a top priority. Speaking to reporters, Rosenhaus also said (via NFL.com's NFL Media Insider Ian Rapoport) that Hilton would like to stay in Indianapolis "for his whole career."
Another stud who has a potential contract coming up is tackle Anthony Castonzo. So far, it seems that Castonzo's in the same boat as Hilton, as far as contracts go. According to Rapoport, in an interview with NFL Network's Inside Training Camp (via Kevin Patra of NFL.com), the Colts are optimistic about working out deals with both Castonzo and Hilton by the time training camp ends.
Robert Mathis' Recovery: Down
Robert Mathis has been fairly optimistic about his recovery so far this offseason, staying true to his words throughout the offseason that he wanted to be ready for Week 1 (via Colts.com).
But according to Jim Irsay, that possibility doesn't seem very likely.
Mathis entered training camp on the physically unable to play (PUP), and Irsay seems fairly certain that that inability will continue through the first few weeks of the season, according to Zac Keefer of the Indy Star:
It's hard to say. We want to make sure the doctors feel he's ready. And that re-injuring and that sort of thing is not going to be a problem. We've talked about kind of October, roughly. Can he come back quicker than that? Knowing Robert, anything is possible. I really just don't think he's going to be ready for the Buffalo game at the start of the season.
It's a tough blow for a veteran who has given everything to the city of Indianapolis and the franchise, but Irsay is dead right about one thing: It will be better to wait on Mathis than to rush him back and see him get hurt again.
If the 2013 NFL sack leader can get back to any significant level rushing the passer, the Colts will be in much better shape for 2015.
Phillip Dorsett: Up
The Colts' first-round pick has been impressive throughout the offseason, but Phillip Dorsett caught the eyes of media again during the team's night practice.
Catching a deep ball over the top for a long touchdown doesn't mean Dorsett will be a slam dunk, but it was another example in a long line of noteworthy plays Dorsett has made this offseason. Keefer noted Dorsett's impressive work:
Really nice night of practice for Phillip Dorsett. Has done nothing but impress since he got here after the draft.— Zak Keefer (@zkeefer) August 6, 2015
The Colts need Dorsett to make an impact this season, though not necessarily as a WR1. The Colts know that there are plenty of other players at wide receiver blocking his access to more targets. But the pick was controversial at the time, and I'm sure Ryan Grigson wouldn't mind reminding people that Dorsett can be a key contributor.
According to NFL Media Insider Ian Rapaport in an interview with the Around the NFL podcast (via NFL.com's Chris Wesseling), the Colts are incredibly high on Dorsett, including calling him a "carbon copy of DeSean Jackson," the best deep threat in the NFL over the last few years.
If Dorsett can stretch the defense as a rookie and open things up for other players, he'll have done his job. But don't expect him to stop there. He'll be making his own mark as well.
Interception-Free Streaks: Down
Through his first 89 passes over three days at training camp, Colts quarterback Andrew Luck had not thrown an interception.
But that changed Wednesday, as George Bremer of the Herald Bulletin noted:
Andrew Luck's 90th pass attempt of #ColtsCamp15 results in his first pick. Vontae Davis does the honors.— George Bremer (@gmbremer) August 5, 2015
Greg Toler and Darius Butler, the other two starting Colts cornerbacks, each went on to pick off Luck as well, prompting a boisterous defense after the night practice, which Colts cornerback Vontae Davis was clearly excited about:
Obviously the offense doesn't like to see interceptions in camp, but it's a good boost for a defense that has struggled against top passing offenses in the past. Of course, the Colts' biggest weakness on defense has been the middle of the field, which doesn't get exploited in the same way in 7-on-7 drills.
Still, the 2015 season will be a big one for the Colts secondary, especially if the team starts rotating Davis and Toler to get Davis matched up with No. 1 wide receivers, per Colts.com's Kevin Bowen pointed out.
Downfield Passing: Up
Despite a couple of interceptions on Wednesday night, however, the Colts passing offense has been explosive throughout the first few days of training camp, and media has noticed, including the Indy Star's Stephen Holder:
The aggressive downfield passing so far this camp is like nothing I've seen recently. Consecutive TDs to Allen and Dorsett— Stephen Holder (@HolderStephen) August 5, 2015
A variety of players have gotten involved, with Hilton, Donte Moncrief, Dorsett and Duron Carter all catching deep touchdown passes over the first few days in training camp.
Despite adding Frank Gore in the offseason, it doesn't seem like the Colts are headed toward a more run-heavy offense. The team has focused heavily on vertical passing to start training camp, smart considering that it is its bread-and-butter. Josh Wilson of SB Nation's Stampede Blue predicted the offense "could be so explosive":
Man, this offense could be so explosive. Downfield passing game is a major factor in camp, and it's working. #ColtsCamp— Josh Wilson (@Coltsfanwilson) August 5, 2015
Gore will add to the efficiency of the offense, but this is Luck's offense.