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It was the perfect teaching moment coming at the most opportune time.
With what looked like green grass being the only thing between him and the end zone, rookie wide receiver T.Y. Hilton had his sights set on scoring his first career NFL touchdown.
That’s just when Hilton’s concentration wavered and the ball caromed off No. 13’s body and into a Pittsburgh Steelers defender’s hands, turning a potential touchdown into a turnover.
Hilton’s frustration showed as he headed towards the sidelines but that was when offensive coordinator Bruce Arians put his teaching hat on in talking to his speedy receiver.
“What happened with T.Y. last week, he drops a ball that he never drops. He was trying to score a touchdown or get a first down,” Arians said.
“Right away you talk to him, tell him get over it, get to the next play and then we tried to get it to him right away. (It was) something I knew that would be successful for him, get his confidence back. Again, we’re going to need him, don’t know when, but we’re going to need him,” Arians said of Hilton.
As the Colts offense headed back onto the field for its next possession, Arians knew where the play call was heading.
Quarterback Andrew Luck found Hilton on a bubble screen that gained eight yards and re-established the confidence in the young receiver.
It’s times like these that are what the preseason is all about.
For Arians, guiding an offense filled with young talent has had its surprises from each day.
“They’ve had great days and then they have all awful days. The drudgery of camp got to a couple of them,” Arians said. “They are bouncing back now, had a good week of practice. I look forward to them bouncing back in this ball game and playing a little better than they did last week.”
One rookie in particular that has received numerous praise from Arians is running back Vick Ballard.
The running back leads the team in rushing through two preseason games and has shown that he can be a successful pass blocker, a trait that often separates which young backs see the playing field.
“I love Vick. I think he’s showing he’s got all of the tools to play every down, he’s running hard and he’s pass protecting well. He’s got everything it takes to be a solid back in this league,” Arians said.
Over the course of the next 10 days, Arians will undoubtedly see a few of his young players go. The Colts roster will be trimmed from 90 to 75 by Monday and then again down to 53 by the following week.
Some of the new faces will continue to have critical roles in Arians offense, but after 20 years in the NFL, it’s this week that is the most difficult for the Colts offensive coordinator.
“To me it’s the hardest part of football. It’s the bad side of the business,” Arians said of cuts. “You work with the guys for so long and normally the guys that get cut are overachievers, they are the easily coached guys and their ability isn’t going to match up.”
“You build a bond with them because they are smart, intelligent. The guys that don’t get it, they don’t hurt you as bad. But the ones that get it, work hard, are there every day, it’s really hard when you cut these guys.”
Tags: bruce arians, T.Y. Hilton, vick ballard
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He isn’t the John Mackey Award winner and wasn’t a prime target of quarterback Andrew Luck in college.
Despite not having the resume of his fellow rookie tight ends, Dominique Jones has found an established niche in the Colts offense.
Among the normal roles that tights ends fill (a mixture of receiving and run blocking), Jones has also seen some action in a short yardage role for the Colts by carrying the football.
Jones’ first NFL carry came on a third-and-one against the Rams with the rush gaining three yards.
“We had worked on it a couple of times in practice but other than that, that’s my first time carrying the ball,” Jones said. “I carried the ball a little bit in the IFL (Indoor Football League) league but that was in January. The Rams game was pretty much my first experience carrying the ball in an NFL game.”
Lined up in the fullback position, Jones took the carry from Luck and accomplished the main objective on short yardage plays—move the chains.
“Anything the coaches are asking me to do, I’m going to do it whole heartedly and try to get that first down because that’s a big down and distance for us to get and keep that drive moving,” Jones said.
On the Colts depth chart right now, Jones has the letter ‘F’ next to his name to indicate his position within the offense.
During training camp, head coach Chuck Pagano explained the position that currently has Dwayne Allen and Jones penciled in.
“He could be split out wide, or he could be lined up right behind the quarterback in front of the tailback, or offset behind the guard or tackle. There are multiple positions for that position,” Pagano said.
Against the Rams, along with his first down rush, Jones also caught his first NFL pass for 22 yards.
Jones signed with the Colts on May 1 and benefited from familiarity with general manager Ryan Grigson following a tryout he had with the Eagles in 2011.
After figuring out what type of offense he would soon be playing in, Jones is ready to see his skill set used all over the field.
“When I first got here for the tryout and started learning a little bit about the offense, I was very excited about it because they used a lot of tight ends and then when I saw they were using three tight end sets, I felt like it was a good opportunity for me to come in and get an opportunity to play,” Jones said.
Tags: chuck pagano, Dominique Jones
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