WESTFIELD – Let’s call it what it was: a very good day for Matt Ryan and the Indianapolis Colts’ passing game.
Paired against the Detroit Lions’ No. 1 defense during Wednesday’s joint practice at Grand Park Sports Campus, Ryan might have had his sharpest training camp work.
“I liked a lot of things we did on offense in the pass game,’’ coach Frank Reich said. “I thought all the quarterbacks looked good, and the receivers.
“The Lions had their share and made some plays and made it tough on us at time, but I thought we made our share as well.’’
Ryan finished team drills 10-for-12 with three touchdowns, and was at his absolute best during red-zone drills. Consider this sequence:
- Rookie Alec Pierce wrestled a Ryan pass away from starting cornerback Amani Oruwariye along the left side of the end zone for a touchdown.
- Ryan offered Jonathan Taylor a play-fake, then fired a low pass to Michael Pittman Jr. for another TD.
- After the Lions blew up a play with quick interior penetration, Ryan connected with Ashton Dulin for a third TD. Dulin appeared to be Ryan’s second read and beat corner Jeff Okudah.
Reich was especially pleased with Pierce’s work against the Lions. During 7-on-7 work, the Colts’ 2nd-round draft pick adjusted to Ryan’s back-shoulder throw and took a reception away from Oruwariye.
“Good to see Alec make a couple of those plays, a couple of those back-shoulder plays,’’ Reich said. “Matt put a couple of those right on the money and Alec made the plays. Those are the kind of things we saw from Alec in college.’’
Dulin insisted the offense was “hitting on all cylinders.’’
“Everybody was running great routes, great techniques from the run game as well,’’ he said. “Matt was putting it right where it needed to be. We just made the plays.’’
Skirmishes, not melees
The Colts and Lions went about their work Wednesday with controlled intensity. There were a few brief skirmishes, but nothing approaching the all-out fight status that’s been the case with some of the joint practices across the NFL.
The most jostling naturally involved Pittman, whose physicality has been on display when he’s gone against his own teammates.
On one play, Pittman pulled in a pass and was hit by a Lions DB. As they were jawing at each other, another Detroit DB arrived and pushed Pittman from behind. Guard Quenton Nelson was quick on the scene to help defuse the situation.
“It was really competitive out there,’’ Reich said. “It got heated. It was perfect. I commend the Lions players and coaches and our players and coaches how we handled it out there.
“We know that there are going to be some skirmishes, but it’s what you do in that moment. Both teams showed good professionalism. You’ve got to be able to withstand those intense moments and keep your cool.’’
You can follow Mike Chappell on Twitter at @mchappell51.