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Top moments from Colts’ first of 2 joint practices with Detroit Lions

WESTFIELD, Ind. (WISH) — On Wednesday at Grand Park Sports Campus, the Indianapolis Colts met the Detroit Lions for the first of two joint practices ahead of the second contest of the preseason, set for a 1 p.m. Saturday kickoff.

It is the second time these two organizations faced off in joint practice sessions, with the first coming in 2017 when former Colts Head Coach Jim Caldwell was leading Detroit’s operation.

Despite leading the historically dormant franchise to three seasons of at least nine victories over four years, Caldwell surprisingly was dismissed following 2017. The Lions have been a mess since, finishing last in the NFC North division each season.

It’s fiery, outspoken first-time Head Coach Dan Campbell’s job to fix it, and coming off a three-win season this past year to open his tenure in Detroit, the Lions currently pride themselves on bringing an attitude that mirrors their leader.  

Campbell, who has nearly the exact opposite of the demeanor of Colts Head Coach Frank Reich, made for a compelling meeting on paper. Here are the top takeaways from Day 1 of joint practices between the two squads:

Matt Ryan and Colts dominate 11-on-11 red zone session

The Colts and Lions matched up for three different segments of offense against defense work: 1-on-1, 7-on-7, and full 11-on-11. Matt Ryan turned in an interception free day across the board, with his best work coming during the red zone period in which he recorded three touchdown passes in four pass attempts from the 10-yard line.

Rookie wide receiver Alec Pierce hauled in the first of the three touchdowns, an acrobatic grab coming in the back corner of the end zone over a Lions cornerback. The very next throw was a strike from Ryan to Michael Pittman Jr. over the middle for a score, and moments later Ashton Dulin got in on the fun, extending for a touchdown catch despite solid coverage.

Other highlights from Ryan included a long crossing route to Pittman in 7-on-7 work that resulted in Pittman burning the cornerback in coverage after the catch. Pierce turned in another solid day from start to finish, opening individual 1-on-1 work with three receptions on three attempts.

Rookie TE Drew Ogletree feared to suffer ‘significant knee injury

The worst moment for the Colts on Wednesday came when sixth-round selection out of Youngstown State, Drew Ogletree, went down to the turf during a live 7-on-7 period with a noncontact injury. Ogletree stayed down on the field in obvious pain before being helped off the field by two trainers. Following practice, Reich said the team medical staff fears Ogletree suffered a significant knee injury. He will undergo an MRI soon to confirm the severity of the knee injury. 

It is brutal timing for the rookie tight end, who arguably put together the most consistent camp catching the football of any tight end on the roster. Second-year tight end Kylen Granson’s role will elevate in importance if Ogletree is lost indefinitely.

Multiple scuffles, but no brawls

The most heated moment of the opening joint practice arrived during the 11-on-11 period, when Pittman took offense to a physical tackle by Lions cornerback Jeff Okudah. Okudah, the third overall pick of the 2020 NFL draft, immediately jarred back and forth with Pittman before a big crowd of players from both sides exchanged shoves. The incidentally was quickly defused, and play resumed without further incident. 

Colt reserve wide receiver DeMichael Harris was late-hit out of bounds following a catch that sparked another shoving match, but again this didn’t lead to a second scuffle later.

Following practice Reich commended the intensity and restraint from both sides on Wednesday, calling it a great first joint practice. 

The two teams meet back up on Thursday for the second of two sessions at Grand Park.