Colts camp observations: Detroit's misdirection poses problems for Indy defense

·4 min read

WESTFIELD — An Indianapolis defense that has been the aggressor through most of training camp in Grand Park opened its joint practices against the Detroit Lions by dominating 1-on-1 drills and making plays in 7-on-7.

But the Colts had a little trouble carrying that momentum over to 11-on-11 work. Lions starter Jared Goff finished 8 of 10 in 11-on-11, and Detroit’s running backs had a handful of nice running plays, busting through creases for gains.

Detroit’s use of misdirection and play-action in the 11-on-11 work appeared to give Indianapolis some trouble.

Working mostly against the Colts’ No. 3 cornerback, Brandon Facyson, second-year wide receiver Amon-Ra St. Brown did most of the damage, hauling in three passes and a touchdown from Goff in the red zone on a play when he got a step on Facyson off of the line of scrimmage and made a nice grab.

No. 1 cornerback Stephon Gilmore also had his hands full with former Jacksonville receiver D.J. Chark, who made an impressive catch down the field on Gilmore in 7-on-7 drills, although Chark did not have any grabs in 11-on-11.

Middle linebacker Zaire Franklin made a couple of nice plays near the line of scrimmage, including blowing up a shovel pass from Goff to T.J. Hockenson.

The No. 2 defensive unit made a few more big plays. Ben Banogu and Tyquan Lewis recorded “sacks,” and undrafted free agent linebacker James Skalski ripped a fumble out of the hands of a Lions running back that E.J. Speed recovered.

Mano a mano

Colts defensive ends Kwity Paye and Yannick Ngakoue extended an olive branch to the Detroit offensive before and after 1-on-1 pass rush drills, offering each player a fist bump.

Then the Indianapolis defensive line spent most of the period running over the Lions’ front five.

Outside of Detroit right tackle Penei Sewell, who had two nice snaps in protection against Paye, and center Frank Ragnow, who did a good job stalemating the power of Grover Stewart, the Lions offensive line struggled to handle the Colts’ speed and power on the defensive line.

And it was just about every Colt. Indianapolis won the majority of the pass rush reps, in particular getting breakout performances from rookie defensive tackle Curtis Brooks and Byron Cowart, who won two snaps apiece and were more effective than they’ve been against the Indianapolis offensive line in practice.

Crossing signs

Rookie strong safety Nick Cross is getting a tough test this week in star Lions tight end T.J. Hockenson.

The first round of battles was a mixed bag. Cross won the first snap, batting the ball away on a short crossing route, but he got caught holding Hockenson’s jersey as the big tight end came out of his break on his second, and Hockenson got him for an impressive catch on the third.

Cross kept improving as the practice progressed, making two plays in the 11-on-11 session.

On one play, Cross leveled a running back out in the flat, and he broke up another pass over the middle of the field, continuing a string of big plays against opponents.

Injury report

Rookie tight end Drew Ogletree went down with a non-contact knee injury, an injury that initially looked “significant” according to Colts head coach Frank Reich, in Wednesday’s practice and immediately headed for an MRI that afternoon.

Veteran defensive tackle R.J. McIntosh, who has been the Colts’ No. 3 defensive tackle throughout training camp, was held out of the second half of practice with an undisclosed injury that Reich said was most likely minor.

Cornerback Isaiah Rodgers (concussion), wide receiver Keke Coutee (groin), offensive tackle Dennis Kelly (knee), safety Will Redmond, safety Armani Watts, linebacker JoJo Domann and defensive tackle Chris Williams (right lower leg) did not practice at all.

Quick game

The referees called the action tightly at Wednesday’s practice. Cross was far from the only Colts defensive back flagged; Kenny Moore II drew another flag in 1-on-1’s, and there were several thrown in 11-on-11. … Moore II nearly got into a scuffle with Hockenson after throwing the tight end into the sideline at the end of the play, and he made a couple of nice plays in the running game. … Ifeadi Odenigbo shot the gap and made a nice tackle-for-loss on a running play. … Speed broke up a pass to Hockenson in the red zone.

This article originally appeared on Indianapolis Star: Colts camp: Detroit misdirection frustrates Indianapolis defense