The Colts' first week of training camp is complete. Here's what you missed, and what you need to know moving forward.
With an 11-win season in the rear view, the Indianapolis Colts must now move forward from an emotional year.
As the team rallied around coach Chuck Pagano's fight with leukemia, it did what few thought possible. It won.
To continue winning, the Colts will look to young players on offense for support. From T.Y. Hilton to Coby Fleener and Dwayne Allen, there is a cast of skill players that will have to step up - again.
Hilton's growth has gained the attention of veteran teammate Reggie Wayne.
"[Hilton's] in meetings asking questions, writing down notes, and making sure he knows the right things... he's doing everything right," Wayne said.
Hilton has shown flashes in Colts' training camp this week. The occasional dropped pass has haunted the second-year wide out, but he's making big plays.
He's shown good route running ability, and his speed always keeps huge gains in the realm of possibility. Hilton went over the top in 1-on-1 drills on Friday as quarterback Matt Hasselbeck hit him in stride, bringing in cheers from the crowd.
Another deep-ball threat is Darrius Heyward-Bey.
He's improved greatly in the latter half of the team's training camp schedule. With six catches on Thursday, Heyward-Bey basically stole the show.
A mix of deep balls and short catches showed his versatility.
When asked whether or not he thought Heyward-Bey could overcome his reputation as a guy that drops passes, Wayne was quick to support his teammate.
"He's not with the Raiders anymore," Wayne said. "We're all behind him."
Wayne said Heyward-Bey talks to him every day, and works on the jugs machine just as often.
He didn't stop there. Wayne said he wishes for a body type like that of Heyward-Bey, adding that Heyward-Bey could join the ranks of "elite" receivers Calvin Johnson and Andre Johnson in the future.
We'll wait and see how that pans out. In the meantime, a trio of Colts tight ends is showing potential of its own.
Fleener played with quarterback Andrew Luck at Stanford, and hasn't stopped growing with him in the NFL. From improving his footwork on blocking plays, to making big plays in the red zone, Fleener is doing it all for the Colts' offense.
"The challenge for him will be to come back Sunday and keep stacking good practices on top of each other," Pagano said of Fleener.
Allen is making things happen, too. Both tight ends are entering their second year, and both have tremendous upside. Allen hauled in one of Luck's three touchdowns during red zone plays on Friday.
He's also been great in position work and drills.
Perhaps the reason neither tight end stands out from the other is because Mr. Irrelevant, Justice Cunningham, is shining just as bright.
Pagano said Cunningham's growth has been evident through training camp. He's working hard, and stepping up when he needs to.
The guy is listed at 6'3" and 258 pounds (I wouldn't doubt that another ten pounds is hidden in their somewhere) and he's absolutely been a huge target on the field.
He made a couple nice plays on Friday, with one catch that was especially impressive. Thick traffic in the middle of the field couldn't keep him from hauling in a highly-thrown pass on a crossing pattern.
He can run with great agility for his size, and if a quarterback can't hit him somewhere between his wide shoulder pads, then he shouldn't be throwing.
Wayne spent a lot of time talking about his teammates on Friday, but that didn't mean he couldn't share the spotlight.
After all, he did catch two touchdowns in Friday's practice alone.
When asked about his role on the offense, Wayne made sure to remind everyone that Luck is the sole leader. Wayne referred to himself as the "vice president."
All in all, spirits were light with Colts players and coaches. Wayne summed it up best when talking about the offensive personnel.
"We're still young," Wayne said. "We're still growing, and we've got one year under our belt so now they know what it tastes like."
With tomorrow off, players will have the opportunity to go home and relax until practice resumes Sunday morning.
Other notes -
Bjoern Werner is good at football. He's not made a ton of noise in real-time plays, but he's looked great in one-on-one drills. Expect good things from the first-round draft pick moving forward.
"The Griffer" is not to be overlooked. Another guy that played with Luck at Stanford, receiver Griff Whalen, has made the most of his opportunities at camp. Don't forget this guys' name.
The "Boomstick" is real. Pat McAfee was given the opportunity to kick field goals on Friday. He hit a 60-yarder with ten yards to spare. He missed a 70-yarder wide left, but had plenty of distance on it. He's a game-changer waiting to happen.
Andrew Luck is just getting better. There won't be a sophomore slump here, if training camp is of any gauge. Luck has looked great everywhere, and is definitely more comfortable in the offense than a year ago.
Running game? With Ahmad Bradshaw sidelined for training camp, well... nothing has happened. No big plays to speak of from running backs, nothing bad either. Donald Brown is still the same old average running back, and I kind of feel the same about Delone Carter (except he isn't old.) That leaves returning starter Vick Ballard and 7th-round draft pick Kerwynn Williams to make noise. Stay tuned for how this positional battle plays out.