INDIANAPOLIS -- The Colts generated some buzz Tuesday afternoon, putting their rookie quarterback on display in front of approximately 7,500 fans in a minicamp practice at Lucas Oil Stadium.
It was the public’s first real look at the new regime in action, and they hope it also served to sell some tickets -- the 3,000 available seats were marked off and fans could sample them before buying.
Standard disclaimer: There is not a ton to glean from a minicamp practice, with no pads, no contact and systems still being installed.
Even so, here are 10 things from this afternoon:
1) I’ve generally expressed surprise that this building came with the giant window and the retractable roof, as it’s so rarely open during football season. But today was a lovely day to have it. I watched from the stands at midfield rather than the corner of the end zone that was the designated press area. And in the shade with a lovely breeze made it was a phenomenal spot.
2) During kick-return work early on as quarterbacks threw to get loose, Reggie Wayne stepped in for the equipment man who was catching Andrew Luck’s throws. (Most non-special teamers just stood around. There was more of that than in similar situations under the previous regime.) Later in a similar situation, Austin Collie did the same. Every little bit helps, and there is no sense having the equipment guy get familiar with Luck’s throws. It’s not a big deal, but it’s hardly insignificant either.
3) Eight guys were in line for field kicks during the kick-return work -- the ones named by the team’s play by play guy who worked as MC were receivers Donnie Avery, LaVon Brazill and Jabin Sambrano, running back Deji Karim and cornerback Cassius Vaughn.
4) Coach Chuck Pagano said as the hybrid 3-4 comes together, ends turned outside linebacker Dwight Freeney and Robert Mathis will spend some of the positional periods working with linebackers and some with defensive linemen. Freeney was with the linemen today and Mathis with the backers.
5) Luck showed me some arm strength. I’ve not bought into the doubters, but I don’t see how they’d have many questions after a day like today. He threw a solid 55-yard pass to the goal line for Wayne that fell incomplete but not for lack of distance. On another throw to Wayne that required a dart of 20 or 25 yards as the receiver angled in from the left side, Luck fired it right in there with great zip. The arm’s not an issue.
6) In 2:00 drill work, Luck showed nice touch and Collie made a nice adjustment to a fade, catching a short TD pass over cornerback Terrence Johnson.
7) Pagano pumped up the crowd with a thank you over the loudspeaker system when things wrapped, talking about making LOS a place with a big home-field advantage. We’ll see if Luck’s “debut” and the practice session sold many tickets.
8 ) According to Pagano, Colts rookies have two weeks left of the seven offseason weeks they can work at the facility with coaches. Those days can be 10 hours long, so Luck and coordinator Bruce Arians will get some serious time together before things shut down until camp.
9) Seth Olsen is playing at left guard with the starting offensive line, but Pagano said Olsen working ahead of Joe Reitz is a matter of the team monitoring and protecting Reitz’s workload as he’s been nicked, and there isn't any clear depth chart advantage at this point. Pagano didn't specify Reitz's nick.
10) Finally, I know many of you don’t care about debates over access or consider it inside baseball. Still I am compelled to get on the record here. The Colts asked credentialed press not to tweet during practice and as far as I know we abided despite our protests. I don't want to live tweet play-by-play, but when I see news at a public event, I need to be free to share it. So going forward, I ask them to realize it’s impossible to keep any secrets from any public practice.
Nate Dunlevy is a quality reporter and writer, and the Bleacher Report’s AFC South writer was in the stands, without a credential. So if you followed him today (@NateDunlevy) you got info about who was on the first team and what was unfolding. Why should ESPN.com, the Indy Star and others who are spending money to have people “cover” the Colts minicamp be restricted while the 7,500 who walked in the gates to watch practice were free to tweet whatever they liked?
It’s not sensible, and it comes across as a control issue. The post-Bill Polian Colts have loosened up with the media, and we’re all grateful for that. But the franchise has got to rethink this issue. Because at training camp practices with crowds, if a reporter being paid to be there sees news, there is no rationalizing not getting it out there. John Doe will, and he shouldn't be entitled to be first, maybe for hours. He also might not be able to offer the context the reporter can. It doesn’t make sense that relationships between the press and the team could be damaged as a result of a media member breaking with a policy that shouldn't exist.