Indianapolis Colts Training Camp: Week 1 Stock Report
Understandably, fans want updates on training camp. It's the first indication that football is finally back, and hungry fans want every bit of knowledge on this year's version of their favorite team, especially if there is good news to be shared.
Now, the problem is that it's incredibly difficult to ascertain accurate analysis from watching training camp. Drills, even seven-on-sevens and full-scrimmage drills, are rarely at full speed, and physicality is never at the level it would be in an actual game. You only get to see said drills or plays once, usually from a poor angle.
Fans and media also don't have all the information: Coaches and players are consistently communicating about different things, and it's impossible to know what a player has been asked to focus on at any particular time.
However, there is a high value in contextual clues. Which team and which unit a player is taking most of his reps with can hint toward how the coaches view that player. The formations and play-calling utilized in scrimmages can be a foreshadowing of the regular season.
It was with this in mind that I traveled to the Colts training camp this week to see who is matching our midsummer hype and who is falling flat.
Stock Up: Dan Herron, Zurlon Tipton
When all your competition for making the roster starts dropping like flies, your own stock skyrockets. That's exactly what's happened for Herron and Tipton.
After Vick Ballard's torn Achilles at the end of last week, the Colts signed Davin Meggett to help fill the void. On Monday, he went down with what looked like a knee injury. He was up moving on the sideline a few minutes later, but it's something to keep an eye on. Meanwhile, Trent Richardson continues to pace the sideline with a "soft tissue" injury.
While it's impossible to tell from the stands if either player is doing well without true contact occurring, the fact that both are getting second- and occasionally first-team reps shows just how far ahead each player really is. The longer that Richardson is on the sideline, the better chance both players have of making the final roster.
Stock Down: Mike Adams
One of the things that has most surprised me so far in training camp is that Mike Adams has not been taking first-team snaps, even with LaRon Landry out.
Delano Howell and Sergio Brown have been taking first-team reps at safety, with Howell in the free safety role that Landry generally plays and Brown in the traditional strong safety spot. We'll have to see what that means when Landry returns: Does Brown stay in at strong safety, or does Howell slide over?
Regardless, so far it seems apparent that Adams and Colt Anderson are relegated to depth roles. But even Anderson looks to be one of the top gunners on the team for special teams. If he's the fourth safety, or even the third, but Anderson is beating him out in special teams, Adams may be in danger of being cut.
Stock Up: Donte Moncrief
The Colts have high hopes for Donte Moncrief, who was their third-round pick in 2014. So far, he seems to be fitting right in.
The thing about rookie receivers is that the speed of the game can be overwhelming and they can hesitate. That hasn't been a problem so far for Moncrief, who looked smooth and confident on Monday as he ran drills and found zones in the defense during scrimmages.
But what is more important for Moncrief is the time he's getting to put in with Andrew Luck. While T.Y. Hilton, Reggie Wayne and Hakeem Nicks are the locked-in top three, the battle for the four spot continues to rage on, mainly between Moncrief, Da'Rick Rogers and Griff Whalen.
For now, Moncrief seems to have the edge, getting occasional looks with the first team in four-wide situations. When Wayne or Hilton are kept off for rest purposes, Moncrief is right out there getting snaps. We'll see more of who Moncrief is during the preseason, but for now, he's positioned well for 2014.
Stock Down: Qua Cox
Prior to camp, Qua Cox was the man that Colts fans were excited about. Cox, a feisty 5'10" player out of Jackson State, was the unofficial favorite to make the roster as a fifth cornerback.
But in training camp, Cox has been relatively quiet, and it's been Loucheiz Purifoy and Sheldon Price getting most of the second-team reps, while Josh Gordy, Greg Toler and Darius Butler fill out the first team (Vontae Davis not practicing). Even Marcus Burley, who was an undrafted free agent by Jacksonville last year, has gotten second-team snaps over Cox.
There is plenty of time left for Cox to make an impact, but it needs to be sooner rather than later if he wants to make a serious push for a roster spot.
Stock Up: Hugh Thornton
Last season, Hugh Thornton really struggled. I mean, he was downright bad. According to Pro Football Focus (subscription required), Thornton ranked 69th out of 81 guards with a grade of negative-14.3. But apparently, that's not stopping the Colts from having confidence in him.
Thornton has taken just about every first-team snap, with rookie Jack Mewhort not challenging him at all for time at right guard, which was speculated upon when Mewhort was drafted in the second round.
Instead, Mewhort has been switching with Donald Thomas for first-team snaps at left guard. With Thomas coming off of two season-ending muscle tears, there is legitimate reason to limit his snap count, but it's still a vote of confidence in Thornton that a starting guard pairing of Thomas and Mewhort hasn't really even been considered at this point.
We'll have to wait and watch the preseason games to see if Thornton has progressed at all, but for now, it seems that the Indianapolis coaches are content to have him starting at right guard.