ANDERSON, Ind. (AP) Indianapolis changed its training camp schedule and it’s already paying dividends.
A shorter trip to Anderson University forced the Colts to move at a quicker pace and rely on more intense workouts to get the job done right.
Now, they’ll head to Philadelphia for Sunday’s preseason opener looking to build on that momentum.
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”I think we’re playing fast as an offensive unit and without a lot of hesitation,” Andrew Luck said before Friday afternoon’s final long workout on the college campus about 45 miles northeast of the team’s facility.
If they keep it up, this offense could be downright scary.
Both Pro Bowl receivers – T.Y. Hilton and Andre Johnson – were every bit as impressive as expected.
First-round draft pick Phillip Dorsett proved his hands are better than advertised. Former CFL receiver Duron Carter showed a penchant for making big plays. They found veterans Vincent Brown and Griff Whalen are still steady players and undrafted rookie receiver Quan Bray has been the biggest surprise of camp.
That doesn’t even include Donte Moncrief, who could win Indy’s No. 3 job when he returns from a groin injury.
Add two dynamic pass-catching tight ends in Dwayne Allen and Coby Fleener and the hard-running Frank Gore, and the Colts might have one of the league’s most proficient offenses.
Even better, the Colts may have escaped camp without any major injuries.
But it’s still unclear whether this offensive line can effectively protect Luck.
During the past two weeks, the Colts used only one starting combination – a major progression considering they used 18 different lineups over the past two seasons.
”There’s nothing like having that same group in there and building that chemistry and building that continuity,” coach Chuck Pagano said, noting that the center job has not yet been won.
Plenty of other questions remain, too.
The limited amount of hitting hasn’t demonstrated yet whether Indy’s other big hole, the run defense, has been fixed.
While Pagano is encouraged by what he has seen at camp, he and his staff will continue looking for answers over the four weeks.
”We accomplished what we set out to accomplish in all three phases. It was demanding. Mentally, we threw a ton at them,” Pagano said. ”We asked a lot of those guys, and they did a great job digesting all the information, taking it from the meeting room to the walkthrough to the practice field and competing and getting after each other at a high level.”
He means it, too.
Instead of the continual midsummer roster changes that have taken place over the past few years, Indy only made a handful of small moves this month – possibly an indication they believe the current roster can meet or exceed the growing expectations outside the organization.
Luck has taken the Colts one step deeper in the playoffs each of the past three years. If he follows the same script this season, Indianapolis would dethrone defending Super Bowl champion New England and play in its third title game in a decade.
But the Colts know their final, closed walkthrough Saturday morning is only the start of a much larger quest.
And Indianapolis knows it will take more work, more precision and more intensity to achieve this season’s goal.
”It’s fun to get to go ones on ones and twos on twos, threes on threes go against each other,” Luck said. ”I think we made a lot of strides in a lot of areas. Obviously there’s still a bunch of preseason and training camp work to do, but I think we’re on the right path.”