It looks very much like the Indianapolis Colts are going to be utilizing a fullback in the team’s new “No Coast” offense that will be directed by first-year coordinator Pep Hamilton.
In past years, the Colts have had very little use for the position. Tight ends, offensive tackles and defensive tackles have lined up as run and pass blockers. Former true fullbacks who have contributed on a regular basis are pretty easy to remember — Jim Finn (2000-02) and Tom Lopienski (2003-04).
Two fullbacks are currently on the team’s roster — Stanley Havili and Dan Moore — and Indianapolis could very well add another one before the start of preseason games.
Havili, who joined the Colts in March after a trade with the Philadelphia Eagles, fits exactly what the team wants from the position in Hamilton’s offensive system. He’s got good size (6-0, 243) and is a quality run and pass blocker who can catch the ball out of the backfield.
And then there’s Moore (5-11, 240), an undrafted rookie who impressed enough during the spring mini-camps and organized team activity workouts to warrant a longer look during training camp.
Hamilton wants to be able to run the football better and more consistently than the Colts have in recent years. Having a true fullback in the offensive backfield should help.
“I think we have to have a true sense of balance in our offense. We got to be able to run the football as well as pass the football. We’re going to do whatever we need to do to score ultimately,” the former Stanford offensive coordinator said Saturday.
“But a fullback, for us, being able to run the power schemes, being able to run the football, is a prize piece in our offense.”
Hamilton said finding the fullback in the Colts’ newly designed offensive system shouldn’t be too hard to find.
“If you just follow the ball, a lot of times the fullback will be somewhere around. … I think that’s a big part of taking some of the burden off the quarterback position. Just being able to run the football when we need to run the football as well as throw the football when those opportunities present themselves.”
• Better balance — Most offenses try to be balanced in terms of running and throwing the ball. But finding the right kind of balance depends on the strength of the offense. The Colts have largely been a pass-first offense with former quarterback Peyton Manning and ex-coordinator Tom Moore leading the way.
Things didn’t change much last season with rookie Andrew Luck and coordinator Bruce Arians, who is now the head coach of the Arizona Cardinals. Arians had Indianapolis running the football 440 times and throwing 628 passes.
This year, Hamilton is hoping to even things out much more.
“It really depends on the situations in our games, how it all comes about. Our goal is to not drop back and throw the football 700 times. Our goal is to do whatever it takes to score touchdowns. We want to be balanced,” he voiced.
“I think over time when you go back and look at what offenses have been successful in the National Football League, especially during December and in the playoffs, the teams that can run the football as well as stop the run and be efficient on third down and in the red zone are the teams that are successful.”
• Learning the offense — Hamilton says that the installation of his offensive system, which is somewhat similar to what he ran as the coordinator at Stanford, continues to go well.
“Our guys have been really receptive at understanding that you’re going to have to study and put the time in to learn the details of our offense. Our offense is predicated on not wasting plays. We have to be very detailed and exact in everything we do,” he explained.
“We want to be efficient but at the same time, we want to score points and score a lot of points. Our guys, they’ve worked their tails off over the course of the offseason to prepare themselves both mentally and physically to be ready to do whatever it takes for us to score touchdowns.”
• Familiarity with the offense — Luck, tight end Coby Fleener and wide receiver Griff Whalen all played in Hamilton’s offense while at Stanford. While there have been some tweaks in the system since coming to Indianapolis, it’s pretty close to the collegiate version.
“I think I’ll be pretty familiar,” Fleener acknowledged. “Some of the terms will change and we’ll kind of form-fit it to where it’s easier to learn from guys from the offense from last year. Outside of that, I think I’ll have a good shot. It will definitely be different [from last year’s offense]. How different? I don’t know. That’s going to be a game-by-game thing.”
• Injury updates — Rookie offensive guard Hugh Thornton did not take part in either of Sunday’s practices. Thornton’s right foot was in a walking boot. There was no official explanation on the extent or cause of the injury. Also sitting out were inside linebacker Pat Angerer (foot) and running back Ahmad Bradshaw (foot). Both were placed on the Colts’ physically-unable-to-perform list Saturday evening.
Bradshaw made an appearance at Sunday afternoon’s practice. He watched from the sidelines but was not wearing a walking boot on his surgically repaired foot.
Nose tackle Brandon McKinney, who missed the entire 2012 season after suffering a knee injury early in last year’s training camp, sat out Sunday afternoon’s workout.
Tight end Dwayne Allen left practice Sunday afternoon and had treatment in the trainers’ tent. The injury was thought to be a blister. He later returned and caught a pass.
• Defensive lineup — Defensive tackle Ricky Jean Francois, nose tackle Aubrayo Franklin and defensive end Cory Redding worked with the first defensive unit Sunday. With Angerer sidelined, Jerrell Freeman and Kavell Conner were the two starting inside linebackers. Inside linebacker Kelvin Sheppard rotated with Conner in nickel situations.
• McNary expected this week — Rookie outside linebacker Josh McNary, who signed with the Colts as a free agent last spring, might be able to take part in his first practice as soon as Tuesday.
A standout defensive player at West Point, McNary was expected to finish up his commitment to the Army in late May or early June. The plan was for him to get some work in during the latter stages of the team’s organized team activity practices, but that didn’t happen.
Colts officials were left wondering if and when McNary would be available for training camp or the season.
“With the military, each case is a little bit different so we have to make sure we’re in tune with the league and our government and military. … But we’re looking forward to finally having Josh in here,” general manager Ryan Grigson said Sunday afternoon.
• Plays of the day — There were several highlights from Sunday’s second workout.
Wide receiver Reggie Wayne made a diving, one-handed catch along the sidelines despite pretty good coverage on the play.
Allen’s back-shoulder catch when matching up against outside linebacker Erik Walden was equally impressive. Walden had him covered, but the throw by Luck and the effort by Allen made the play work.
Other top performances included a fake-field-goal touchdown pass from punter Pat McAfee to offensive tackle Bradley Sowell; running back Delone Carter’s short-yardage touchdown run; and an interception return for a touchdown by cornerback Cassius Vaughn off a pass from quarterback Matt Hasselbeck.
Luck finished his first full practice by completing 22 of 34 passes with a pair of touchdowns and one interception.