Colts Return to Grand Park For Training Camp With High Expectations For 2019
Photography Provided by the Indianapolis Colts
The Indianapolis Colts have multiple reasons to be optimistic about their upcoming season.
After a 1-5 start last year the team went on to notch a 10-6 record, earning their first playoff spot since 2014 in the process and becoming the third team in the league’s history to make the playoffs after starting with a 1-5 record.
Nevertheless, Running Back Nyheim Hines, who joined the Colts last season after playing at North Carolina State, says the team’s approach moving into the fall is focusing on steady collective improvement, rather than setting specific goals for their regular season record or playoff advancement.
“I’ve been on a lot of football teams throughout my life and last year was probably the most group-oriented team I’ve played for,” Hines says. “We didn’t hang our heads or blame each other when we were 1-5. We just all held each other accountable. Now the expectations are higher but we’re still holding each other accountable and everybody’s doing their part. The biggest thing is trusting that the guy next to you will do his job.”
Hines became third overall in receptions for rookies with 63 catches during the 2018-2019 season — third in Colts franchise history, which is fairly impressive for a running back — and attributes his success to a diligent study of how his position fits in with the Colts’ overall offensive approach.
“For me it was learning more about how the offense works and tuning in when coach was talking about routes, he says. “I was always taking notes because even when coach was talking to T.Y. (Hilton) I knew I might be out there at some point. And staying tuned in to what Andrew (Luck) likes, because whatever Andrew tells you to do, that’s what you do.”
Linebacker Anthony Walker, who finished second in tackles for the Colts last season, says the team never lost confidence in each other even during the 1-5 start.
“We established good camaraderie during training camp, and we knew we had the right guys in the locker room and the leaders to turn things around after things didn’t start the way we wanted them to,” says Walker, now in his third season with the Colts. “We were in the playoff mindset even when we were 1-5, so after that you can’t lose a game and we knew that.”
In August, the Colts will head to Grand Park Sports Campus for the second year in a row for their official training camp, and Hines says training at the venue last year was a refreshing change of pace.
“It was pretty cool to get away from 56th Street and go somewhere else,” he says. “The Westfield facility is nice. I’ve had friends who have had basketball tournaments there. I don’t know if our 56th Street facility could hold all the fans that came out, so it was good to be up there and I’m excited to be back there. And it’s cool for the fans to see how hard we’re working and get the first glimpse of the team before our preseason games.”
The Colts face the Buffalo Bills on August 8 for their first preseason game and will host the Cleveland Browns for a few joint practices prior to their preseason matchup.
Head Coach Frank Reich says Grand Park provides an optimal setting for his players to prepare mentally and physically.
“This is an exciting place,” Reich says of the facility. “We really have had a great reception from the people here at Grand Park. There have been really good vibes all around the layout. This feels like it’s a high-quality NFL training camp being treated right.”
There is no charge to attend the training camp at Grand Park, but attendees must procure a ticket to enter.
“You want to use that time at training camp to connect with your brothers, and the Grand Park facility allowed us to do that last year,” Walker says. “Camp is hard and it’s supposed to be hard, but we had a lot of fun with the walk to practice every day and seeing the fans. I’m looking forward to it again this year.”
Hines reiterates that the team isn’t focusing on specific long-term playoff goals at this point but rather day-to-day progress as the regular season approaches.
“We’re just talking about how we’re going to get back to that level of play in the Division Round when we lost last season,” he says. “We’re not talking about making it to the playoffs or going 10-6 again. We’re talking about getting one percent better every day. Every day is an opportunity to get better.”
For a full schedule of Indianapolis Colts training camp events and ticketing info, visit grandpark.org/sports/colts.