Indianapolis Colts

Colts QB Matt Ryan applauds rookie following joint practices with Lions

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — On Thursday at Grand Park Sports Campus, the Indianapolis Colts and Detroit Lions concluded the second of two joint practices ahead of their preseason meeting Saturday afternoon at Lucas Oil Stadium.

For the second consecutive day, both teams did not let the intensity of live padded practice competition boil over into any fighting or brawling.

Instead, quarterback Matt Ryan opened the first 7-on-7 period with his best work of the day connecting with tight end Mo Alie-Cox on an impressive back shoulder throw for a touchdown, in addition to a quick strike to running back Nyhiem Hines for another score.

Unlike Wednesday, Ryan and the first team offense struggled during the red zone 11-on-11 period highlighted by two unsuccessful live goal line attempts. One resulted in a fumble on the exchange between Ryan and reserve running back Deon Jackson.

The conclusion of Thursday’s practice was a mock two-minute drill, which resulted in zero first downs for Ryan leading the first-team offense. Nick Foles and the second-team offense also failed to move the chains. In defense of the first unit, Reich intentionally declined a defensive pass interference penalty on Michael Pittman Jr. that would have resulted in an automatic first down. Instead, Reich elected for Ryan to work through a fourth and short situation which failed due to a drop by Parris Campbell.

Following practice, Ryan addressed the media for the first time this week, admitting there was “extra juice” the past two days with the Lions on hand for live practice reps.

“I felt good both days,” Ryan said. “I thought we got good work in the passing game, I thought guys made plays, which is what you want to see. You put balls up and you try and put them in spots for them to be successful. We came down with a handful of them. I thought our guys did a good job. It is fun competing. This is why we do it, to go against other teams, to see where you’re at from that standpoint.”

Following the glowing review of Ryan’s early impact in Indianapolis from Jim Irsay, Colts owner and chief executive officer, the quarterback Thursday weighed in on his first impression of the passionate owner. The two see eye-to-eye when it comes to expectations this season, which aim to put Indianapolis back in a Super Bowl for the first time since 2009.

“To be here and play here for Jim (Irsay), it’s special,” Ryan said. “But I think the passion he has, you feel that immediately – the love he has for current and former players. The first night he came and spoke to the team in training camp – he’s mentioning everybody that’s been through this building and the legacy. You feel it. It’s not lip service. He’s genuine, so I’ve enjoyed getting to know him. I do – he mentioned yesterday we’re kind of on these similar trajectories as an individual and as one organization. I feel that way. I feel that I’m in a place in my career where I’m as competitive as I’ve ever been, and I want to win as much as ever. Certainly, I feel that urgency from the organization as well. It’s great.”

On the field, although he turned in a quieter day Thursday, rookie wide receiver Alec Pierce has to be pleased with his performance this week. After winning all three of his 1-on-1 reps Wednesday, Detroit’s secondary got a first-hand look at the polished route running ability of the second-round selection out of Cincinnati. Ryan is taking notice of the rookie’s savviness as well.

“He’s a hard worker and when you combine that with talent – the good players I’ve been around, they have all been that way,” Ryan said. “More so than anything he does on the field, it’s the combination of the work ethic, the competitiveness, all of the intangible stuff combined with the talent. If you’re going to be a great player in this league, which I think he can be, you’ve got to have it all. You’ve got to have the work ethic, you’ve got to have the confidence and then you’ve got to have the skill set to do it too. The combination of those things is what fires me up about him.”

It is likely that Pierce sits on Saturday afternoon along with the majority of the Colts starters from both sides of the football following approximately 40 live reps the past two days against the Lions at Grand Park. Reich confirmed Quarterback Nick Foles starts and plays one quarter, with Sam Ehlinger and Jack Coan taking over from there.