Colts camp observations: Shaky day for Indianapolis wide receivers

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WESTFIELD — Matt Ryan threw his first two interceptions of 11-on-11 work on the eighth day of practice on Monday, both on deep shots down the field.

The intended wide receiver failed to make an adjustment dictated by the coverage on both throws, highlighting how important it is for Ryan and the receivers to get on the same page while the Colts are in training camp at Grand Park.

On the first, Ashton Dulin broke off his route toward the sideline and Ryan threw a fade, allowing Indianapolis free safety Julian Blackmon to range back and make a diving interception.

“That’s a play you design for off coverage, off man, and our defense gave us a different look, they came up and pressed,” Colts offensive coordinator Marcus Brady said. “We’ve started putting in signals to convert to a fade.”

Dulin has been one of the breakout players in training camp, but the interception was only the start of a rough Monday for the long-time special teamer. Dulin later dropped another lofted ball from Ryan downfield, and he failed to catch a sideline throw from Nick Foles that hit him in the chest, even though he might have been out of bounds.

Dulin was able to salvage the day somewhat with a difficult touchdown catch during a red zone period.

The second interception came on a throw to the Colts’ most reliable receiver, both in terms of prior production and in this training camp.

Ryan saw man-to-man coverage on the outside and fired a deep ball for Pittman Jr. down the sideline, but the returning star stopped his route on the sideline, allowing undrafted free agent cornerback Dallis Flowers to keep floating back and come up with another interception.

“It’s really designed to go underneath, but it’s an alert if we get man coverage where we’ve got Pitt 1-on-1, we’re taking it,” Brady said. “The read was right, the throw was right, but we’ll get that cleaned up.”

Pittman Jr. also had an end zone toss bounce off his hands.

For the Colts’ No. 1 wide receiver, though, the two mistakes were more of a hiccup than anything consistent. Pittman Jr. has been Ryan’s most reliable receiver in training camp, and he caught six of Ryan’s 11 completions (in 20 attempts) on Monday, doing most of his work over the middle.

But overall, it was a rough day for the team’s top four wide receivers. Rookie Alec Pierce initially beat Brandon Facyson into the end zone in a red zone period, only to have the ball knocked out of his hands by a charging Facyson as he came down to the ground.

Parris Campbell also sat out most of the practice.

“I think his hamstring tightened up or something,” Brady said. “But I talked to him, he said ‘I’ll be good to go.’ He gets the day off tomorrow, he’ll be good to go in a couple of days. He was just being cautious.”

Former Texans wide receiver Keke Coutee took most of the snap in Campbell’s place, bringing in a one-handed catch for a touchdown in the red zone and taking a screen from Foles into the end zone in the same period.

Michael Pittman Jr. (11) runs drills during the Indianapolis Colts mandatory mini training camp on Wednesday, May 8, 2022, at the Indiana Farm Bureau Football Center in Indianapolis.
Michael Pittman Jr. (11) runs drills during the Indianapolis Colts mandatory mini training camp on Wednesday, May 8, 2022, at the Indiana Farm Bureau Football Center in Indianapolis.

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Overmatched

The Colts ended practice by running four-minute and two-minute drills, pitting the starters on one side of the ball against the No. 2 lineup on the other.

The No. 2 offense had little chance against an Indianapolis defense that has been overwhelming at times over the past week. Kwity Paye forced a three-and-out in the No. 2’s chance at a four-minute drill by getting to Foles with an inside move for a “sack.”

Foles opened the No. 2 offense’s two-minute drill with a completion to Coutee over the middle, then took back-to-back sacks from Yannick Ngakoue, who was working against rookie left tackle Bernhard Raimann, and was nearly picked off on third down by Blackmon, who was so frustrated by his drop that he did pushups on the sideline to atone.

Kicking competition

The battle between Rodrigo Blankenship and Jake Verity produced its first misses of training camp Monday.

Blankenship made kicks from 33 and 48, but he also missed from 42 and 55, and it didn’t look like he got a clean hit on the make from 48 yards. Asked to come back out late in the practice in an end of game situation, the Colts’ incumbent knocked a kick through from 29 yards.

Verity, the former Ravens understudy brought in to be Blankenship’s competition, made from 33, 42 and 48 before pushing his 55-yard attempt wide right, and he made a 45-yarder in an end of game situation at the end of practice.

Two weeks into training camp, Blankenship is 8 of 10 and Verity is 9 of 10 on field goals in front of a crowd.

Injury report

Veteran offensive lineman Jason Spriggs and defensive tackle Curtis Brooks (eye) did not practice after suffering injuries on Sunday, but special teamer Brandon King was back in action after a couple of days on the sidelines.

Wide receiver DeMichael Harris, running back D’Vonte Price, safety Will Redmond, free safety Armani Watts, linebacker Forrest Rhyne, offensive tackle Dennis Kelly (knee), defensive tackle Byron Cowart and defensive tackle Chris Williams (lower leg) all remained out of practice with previous injuries.

All-Pro linebacker Shaquille Leonard (back) and wide receiver Michael Strachan (knee) remain on the active/physically unable to perform list.

Quick game

On a day when the offense sputtered again, All-Pro running back Jonathan Taylor provided the biggest highlight, cutting through the left side, making a move and hitting the afterburners for a touchdown of 50-plus yards. … DeForest Buckner and R.J. McIntosh both batted down Ryan passes at the line. … Raimann took some 1-on-1 snaps at right guard in addition to his usual work at left tackle. … Defensive end Kameron Cline made two big plays on back-to-back plays in the red zone, drawing a hold on Jordan Murray on one play, then blowing through the line for a tackle-for-loss on Phillip Lindsay on the other. … Young defensive linemen kept flashing. Dayo Odeyingbo and Caeveon Patton combined for a sack of Foles, and rookie Eric Johnson blew through the line for a tackle-for-loss.

This article originally appeared on Indianapolis Star: Colts camp: Shaky day for Matt Ryan's wide receivers