By Tom James
TERRE HAUTE — It may be early, but this year’s crop of Indianapolis Colts draft picks appear to be doing quite well in their first National Football League training camp.
From top pick Donald Brown to seventh-rounder Jaimie Thomas, the Colts’ rookies have more than held their own over the past couple of weeks. One player in particular, cornerback Jerraud Powers, has caught the eye of coaches and fans alike.
Powers, a third-round selection from Auburn, started the team’s preseason opener with Minnesota last week when veteran Marlin Jackson was held out. He responded with three total tackles in the game. The Decatur, Ala., native can also play as the nickel back as well as return punts if needed.
“He does quite a few things for us. Obviously, he is a good defender at corner, but also plays a little nickel on the inside and what he can do in the return game is something we are learning about him all the time. He can really do something with it once he gets the ball in his hands,” Colts head coach Jim Caldwell said Monday.
“We are pleased with his progress. Young guys are going to make some mistakes, that’s just the way it is, but he seems to be getting a little better and a better understanding on a daily basis.”
n Brown looking good — When it comes to playing the game of professional football, Brown is a confident young man.
Not overly confident, mind you. But it appears as if not a lot fazes Brown as he goes about trying to learn an intricate Indianapolis Colts offensive system.
The results so far are pretty good. In limited playing time last week against the Vikings, the former University of Connecticut runner had 58 yards in just five carries. He broke off a 38-yard run in the second quarter that set up the team’s lone points of the game, a 42-yard field goal by Shane Andrus.
“I’m confident. I’m confident in my knowledge of the playbook, and the coaches and a bunch of the players have been helpful in expediting the learning curve, so I’m pretty confident right now in my playbook knowledge,” Brown said.
n Camp wraps up Wednesday — There are only three more practices remaining in training camp this year. The Colts will have full workouts at 8:30 a.m. and 7:30 p.m. today before the final session at 9:30 a.m. Wednesday.
While the players will be glad to get back to Indianapolis for the remainder of the preseason schedule, Caldwell likes the atmosphere associated with camp at Rose-Hulman.
“I like training camp, to be honest. I like the captive audience. I like the opportunity to spend a lot of time honing our craft, so I don’t mind it at all,” the Indianapolis coach said. “But all good things come to an end. I’m not sure the players feel that way, but we’ll be headed out of here on Wednesday and continue to focus on getting a little bit better.”
n Injury report — Tight end Dallas Clark (concussion), defensive end Curtis Johnson, safety Antoine Bethea (hand), running back Mike Hart (ankle), tight end Jacob Tamme, wide receiver Anthony Gonzalez (hamstring), safety Melvin Bullitt, offensive tackle Charlie Johnson and cornerback Kelvin Hayden (hamstring) all returned to practice on Monday.
Clark, Johnson and Bethea all took part in the afternoon workout. Among those sitting out were cornerback Michael Coe (groin), tight end Tom Santi (shoulder), quarterback Jim Sorgi (hamstring), offensive tackle Ryan Diem (back), defensive end Robert Mathis (calf) and defensive end Raheem Brock (hand).
“Mathis is coming along. For us, it is a day-to-day situation, but he is doing fine,” Caldwell said. “[Hart] is coming along well. He has made good progress.”
n Roster moves — The Colts released offensive tackle Brandon Barnes on Monday and added former Northwestern defensive tackle John Gill to the team’s training camp roster.
Gill was originally signed as an undrafted free agent by the Detroit Lions this past spring. He was released on Aug. 14. The 6-foot-3, 302-pound Gill should help bolster Indianapolis’ defensive line depth due to the loss of Brock.
n NFLPA head visits camp — DeMaurice Smith, the new executive director of the National Football League Players Association, visited training camp on Monday.
Smith was accompanied by former Colts safety Jason Belser during the morning practice session. Belser is now in charge of the NFLPA’s regionals program.
n Attendance slowing — With schools starting back up around the area, fan attendance has started to drop during training camp.
According to Rose-Hulman officials, 467 fans watched the morning practice. The afternoon workout took place on the Cook Stadium field in front of 263 fans.
A large turnout is expected tonight, however, as the Colts go through their final night session of camp. So far, 21,378 fans have attended training camp over the first two weeks (and counting Monday’s two workouts). The record, which was set in 2007, is 27,300.