WESTFIELD, Ind. — Westfield? On Friday it was more like "wet field."
An already damp Grand Park, first-year home of the Indianapolis Colts' training camp, took a steady beating Friday from a mid-practice rain (along with drizzle earlier in the day) that actually briefly paused the first of two joint practices between the Colts and Baltimore Ravens prior to meeting in Monday's preseason game at Lucas Oil Stadium.
The rain also seemed to dampen what had been a very strong start for Colts QB Andrew Luck in his first action against another team's defense in more than 19 months. Luck and the Colts' first-team offense got off to a terrific start, with Luck completing eight of his first eight passes. And what feels notable: those first eight completions went to seven different receivers.
Luck showed it all: timing, rhythm, accuracy, confidence ...
But to me what stood out was his engagement. Wouldn't go so far as to call Luck giddy out there, but he definitely had a sense of purpose, ably filling the role of leader of this previously wayward Colts team, shouting out directives at the beginning of practice periods or yelling encouragement to teammates, or support if they needed.
"That's how it's been since Day 1 [of camp]," Reich said. "Pep in his step, good energy — I can't emphasize that enough, just really good energy coming from him and the team. But especially him as our leader on the field, as one of the leaders on the field.
"You can feel it. It's palpable out there. And then to have the playmaking to go behind it, which he's doing that as well."
Look, the whole body-language game is often silly and is open to wild interpretation — especially for a writer who dropped into town late Thursday night and will be back on the road Saturday afternoon. It's dangerous to draw too much from one player's perceived mood on a given day, or even two depending on what happens during Saturday's session.
But when Reich is doubling down on that idea after I asked him about it? It's worth noting. It didn't just feel like coachspeak.
Added wide receiver Ryan Grant, who joined the Colts this offseason: "He's one of those guys that gets in the huddle and gets everyone going, gets the juices flowing."
Luck looked focused and mentally sharp early on, and he even stretched it out with a few nice long balls. Later on in practice? It fell apart a bit. The rain can't be blamed wholly, as it appeared the Colts' offensive line was losing some battles up front and Luck's receivers had at least four drops by my count, two by new TE Eric Ebron, who has been said to otherwise had an excellent camp.
Luck also can take some blame for his near pick-six — Ravens linebacker Albert McClellan just dropped the gift of a pass — with the Colts operating backed up on their own 10-yard line in 11-on-11 work. There were a few instances where Luck double-clutched when the Ravens supplied pressure, and Luck even slightly misfired on a dump-off pass that might have been called a drop depending on whom you ask. Most of his completions in full-team work were short and intermediate.
Overall, you'd say it was a decent day, not a great one.
But that's really just fine in the big scheme. The fact that he's out there working well consistently since the start of camp is the biggest takeaway. I had him throwing 50 passes on Friday, counting only team and individual work (not warm-ups).
"Andrew has been great," Ebron said. "He takes a lot of pride into his warm-up, his routine. You always see him doing something extra. So as far as his game play, it will only continue to get better.
"He's been out of [game action] for how long? And for him to come out and have that much attitude and charisma, that happiness, it's been great. But when you realize it's Andrew Luck, All-Pro player, you expect nothing less from him."
Reich said the plan is for Luck to work into the second quarter Monday. "Similar to last week, but maybe more," Reich said. "We'll see how it goes." The Colts will break camp on Saturday, and Luck will meet with the media to cap off that session.
And if the season were starting tomorrow, would Luck be good to go to play a full four quarters?
"Yeah, he's ready, it's really good," Reich said. "We're still getting better everywhere, and he's still getting better. But we are very happy with the progress and not just physically but every aspect of his game."
The Colts have a go-to receiver in T.Y. Hilton, who caught Luck's first pass of the day and several more throughout. Tight end Jack Doyle was maybe the busiest man with the first-team offense, catching several passes. Ebron couldn't haul in a couple balls, including one easy one on a slant right in his bread basket, but he's expected to have a role as a pseudo-receiver. WR Charles Rogers had a few nice plays, including a crisp crossing route from Luck. Grant will be involved, too, at wideout.
It's not the greatest group of pass catchers these eyes have ever seen. You can picture Reich devising a scheme that takes advantage of the team's strengths and puts two and sometimes three tight ends on the field, making it tough for defenses to get a read on what the Colts will do, run or pass.
Grant said he thinks the Colts will be running a throw-to-the-open-man passing game, as opposed to force-feeding it into one or two pass catchers.
"Being a receiver, you just got to run routes and get open," Grant said, "and the ball could be coming your way on [any play]."
And the worries about Luck's health and his mood are dwindling by the day. You can pretty much lock in Luck for Week 1 against the Bengals, barring some unforeseen turn for the worse.