BREAKING NEWS : Tornado warning issued for parts of Allen, Whitley and Huntington counties Full Story
BREAKING NEWS : Fort Wayne police investigate shooting on Sherman Boulevard Full Story

Colts Begin Training Camp

The Colts begin their 2019 Training Camp with high expectations.

Posted: Jul 24, 2019 11:22 PM
Updated: Dec 23, 2019 12:34 PM

WESTFIELD, Ind. (WXIN) – On a clear, comfortable Wednesday, optimism was high and spilling out of every nook and cranny of spacious Grand Park Sports Campus.

“Look, we’ve got a good football team,’’ general manager Chris Ballard offered without much prodding. “I’m not going to shy away from that.’

T.Y. Hilton was in no mood to argue the point.

“This team is special,’’ he said. “This team has enough to do what we want to do.’’

Hilton’s been a part of the good, the bad and the so-so since the Indianapolis Colts selected him in the third round of the 2012 NFL draft. This group – the 90 players who reported Wednesday for the start of training camp – is the best collection he’s been around.

“Absolutely,’’ the four-time Pro Bowl selection said. “This team is probably the most talented team I’ve been around.’’

In a quarterback-driven league, the Colts have the luxury of a blue-chip leader: Andrew Luck. Initially, he’ll be limited in practice as he returns from a calf injury that kept him out of the team’s offseason work. But Luck resumed throwing over the past month and should quickly regain his form.

His arm?

“In good shape,’’ Ballard said.

Luck’s supporting cast is deep and diverse, and the Colts return their starting offensive line intact for the first time since 2006. The defense is trending in the right direction, and features a nice mixture of the old (30-year old Justin Houston) and the still-new (24-year old Darius Leonard).

And the national media has noticed. More than a few experts/analysts consider the Colts a trendy pick to challenge for AFC supremacy.

That’s a seismic shift from a year ago at this time. Everyone seemed to have the Colts’ number. It was 32, as in dead-last in a 32-team league.

“Look,’’ Ballard said, “expectations are good. It’s not a bad thing. It’s a good thing. But every year’s a new year, it just is.

“Expectations are good. Embrace it and let’s get to work.’’

And that’s what training camp is all about. It’s a three-week stretch during which serious players assert themselves and pretenders are exposed and ultimately discarded.

As players, coaches and management embarked on their second summer at Grand Park on a picturesque day, so many still were thinking about that dreary Jan. 12th in Kansas City. It was overcast, cold and windy at Arrowhead Stadium.

A week after a dominant first-round road playoff win at Houston showed how far the franchise had come from when Ballard took over in January 2017, the Colts discovered how much further they had to go. Patrick Mahomes and the Chiefs rolled them 31-13, and it wasn’t that close.

Ballard’s eyes tightened as he considered the Kansas City experience.

“Well, look, we’re disappointed ‘cause we got our ass kicked,’’ he said. “But also we knew it was the first step in the journey.

“More pissed because we got our assed whipped and I didn’t think we performed like I thought we were capable of performing. It happens in this league. I do look back to when Bill (Polian) was here. I think it was year 6 before they won their first playoff game.’’

Ballard was spot-on with his history lesson. Despite the presence of Peyton Manning beginning in 1998 and a slew of other top-tier players, the Colts didn’t win their first playoff game in the Manning era until 2003. They didn’t reach the Super Bowl until 2006.

“It takes time,’’ Ballard said. “You’ve got to enjoy the journey and you’ve got to build and you’ve got to grow.

“You’re going to have some failures along the way. You’re going to have some disappointments along the way that you’re going to have to deal with and get over.’’

The point, so many stressed Wednesday, is to take the necessary steps to ensure another Kansas City doesn’t happen again.

Last season, Frank Reich was adept at using the overwhelming lack of respect and expectations for the Colts – 32, remember? – as motivation. It contributed to the team recovering from a 1-5 start, winning nine of its final 10 regular-season games and returning to the playoffs for the first time since 2014.

Now, the humbling loss at Kansas City serves as motivation.

“It’s one of those games that leaves a sour taste in your mouth,’’ cornerback Pierre Desir said. “We didn’t play as well as we wanted to. It’s a game that I’ll never forget and a lot of guys will never forget,

“It’s one of those games that is going to be with you. You were there, but you try to learn from it.’’

“It’s motivation,’’ noted Hilton, “because we fell short of the goal. We’ve just got to continue to go out and continue to play Colts football. As long as we play Colts football, we’ll be a tough team to beat.’’

As argument can be made that the Colts have been here before, a one-time afterthought suddenly facing amped-up expectations.

Remember 2015? Indy was coming off a trip to the ’14 AFC Championship game. Even though the Colts were overwhelmed 45-7 by the New England Patriots, lofty expectations followed them into the following season. Management believed it was on the cusp on a championship and took an all-in approach to free agency. Expensive investments produced Frank Gore, Andre Johnson, Trent Cole, Kendall Langford, Todd Herremans, Nate Irving and others.

In their all-in season, the Colts went bust. They finished 8-8 with a roster that had too many 30-plus players and lacked anything resembling chemistry.

Hilton had a ringside seat.

It was that comparison – now and 2015 – that elicited the “this team is special’’ response from Hilton. He pointed to the top-to-bottom makeup of the current roster, one that benefits from Reich’s steady-handed guidance and leadership from the likes of Luck, Anthony Castonzo and other veterans.

“For us,’’ Hilton said, “our main goal this year is to just stay focused. This team, they love football, man. Most humble team I’ve been around.’’

The idea – the overriding goal – is for the Colts to be a contender year-in, year-out. Not to be the trendy offseason pick, but the of-course-they-are team in any discussion regarding postseason success.

To get to that point, Ballard insisted, takes following the same blueprint Reich used in his first year as head coach.

“I don’t ever want us to get any kind of institutional arrogance to where we think we’ve got it made,’’ Ballard said. “That’s not how I am. That’s not how Frank is. That’s not how our owner is.

“We want to make sure we are always working and moving forward.’’

Indiana Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Confirmed Cases: 74328

Reported Deaths: 3041
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Marion15860725
Lake7570275
Elkhart484384
Allen3902163
St. Joseph350081
Hamilton2763104
Vanderburgh196313
Hendricks1887108
Cass17959
Johnson1757118
Porter131639
Clark123347
Tippecanoe121111
Madison97965
LaPorte91130
Howard89065
Kosciusko85212
Bartholomew79347
Marshall78422
Floyd77946
Monroe75630
Delaware73052
Dubois69612
Boone67846
Noble67829
Hancock66038
Vigo65110
Jackson5865
Warrick58130
LaGrange55910
Shelby55327
Grant52630
Dearborn50828
Morgan47634
Clinton4343
Henry38320
Wayne37710
White36910
Montgomery35421
Lawrence34627
Harrison33823
Decatur33732
Putnam2888
Miami2742
Daviess27320
Scott26810
Greene25034
Jasper2432
Franklin24214
DeKalb2324
Gibson2254
Jennings22512
Steuben2103
Ripley2087
Carroll1912
Fayette1897
Perry18612
Starke1787
Orange17124
Posey1710
Wabash1693
Fulton1682
Wells1682
Jefferson1632
Knox1540
Whitley1526
Washington1401
Tipton13810
Spencer1363
Sullivan1261
Huntington1223
Randolph1224
Clay1215
Newton11810
Adams1012
Jay910
Owen901
Pulaski831
Rush804
Fountain742
Brown731
Ohio655
Blackford642
Benton610
Pike530
Switzerland520
Vermillion520
Parke511
Crawford450
Martin450
Union410
Warren221
Unassigned0206

Ohio Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Confirmed Cases: 100848

Reported Deaths: 3669
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Franklin18317524
Cuyahoga13514499
Hamilton9643255
Lucas5348323
Montgomery436294
Summit3555222
Butler292963
Marion292545
Mahoning2554255
Pickaway238742
Stark1827139
Warren178939
Lorain177078
Columbiana165860
Trumbull1524106
Fairfield138732
Delaware130119
Licking128149
Clark114614
Lake111438
Wood104358
Clermont93311
Medina92335
Miami83938
Tuscarawas78214
Portage75861
Allen74044
Greene69012
Belmont62126
Mercer61213
Richland60412
Erie57527
Ashtabula56946
Geauga55644
Wayne53958
Ross4844
Huron3965
Darke39529
Ottawa38626
Hancock3783
Sandusky37716
Madison37410
Athens3571
Holmes3286
Lawrence2830
Auglaize2546
Union2511
Muskingum2361
Jefferson2292
Scioto2261
Seneca2143
Knox2057
Putnam20517
Preble2032
Washington20322
Shelby1944
Coshocton1936
Champaign1762
Crawford1745
Morrow1702
Hardin16512
Clinton1646
Highland1581
Logan1552
Fulton1481
Wyandot1468
Ashland1443
Defiance1444
Williams1353
Perry1303
Brown1292
Hocking1189
Guernsey1177
Henry1172
Fayette1130
Carroll1115
Monroe9318
Pike760
Jackson740
Van Wert711
Paulding690
Gallia651
Adams612
Meigs400
Vinton312
Harrison261
Morgan260
Noble160
Unassigned00
Fort Wayne
Clear
68° wxIcon
Hi: 85° Lo: 58°
Feels Like: 68°
Angola
Clear
68° wxIcon
Hi: 83° Lo: 57°
Feels Like: 68°
Huntington
Scattered Clouds
67° wxIcon
Hi: 83° Lo: 57°
Feels Like: 67°
Decatur
68° wxIcon
Hi: 84° Lo: 57°
Feels Like: 68°
Van Wert
68° wxIcon
Hi: 84° Lo: 57°
Feels Like: 68°
Isolated Showers Tuesday
WFFT Radar
WFFT Temperatures
WFFT National

Community Events