Though Kemoko Turay is listed first on the unofficial depth chart at defensive end, Friday represents the rookie’s first real practice with the Colts.
A knee injury has kept him on the shelf and, while it held up under that duress Friday, whether or not he’ll be able to play in Monday’s exhibition vs. the Baltimore Ravens remains in question.
“At the moment I don’t really know,” Turay said after the session. “I’m about to go see the trainer.
“I feel a lot better. I feel 95 (percent), they’re just trying to be cautious to make sure I don’t re-injure that again.”
The Colts have high expectations for the second-round pick, who was surprisingly listed above Tarell Basham and John Simon on the depth chart. That could be just a motivational tool for both, who have had more work with the first team.
In particular, Basham has struggled in his second season. He appeared in 15 games for the Colts last season.
The defensive line, however, is an area where there can be a lot of different combinations rolled out pending matchups in the regular season. What’s true today could easily change tomorrow.
Regardless of how the shuffle ends, there’s playing time to be had.
When Turay was taken out of Rutgers with the 52nd overall pick, it was because of his pass rushing. Another rookie, defensive end Tyquan Lewis, was slowed by a foot injury and recently was in a walking boot. He has seen time at both defensive tackle spots.
Earlier in the week, coach Frank Reich expressed a strong desire to see his rookies learning on the job, but the risk isn’t always worth it. The Colts are going to slow play them just as they’re doing with veteran offensive tackle Anthony Castonzo after he re-injured his hamstring last week.
“It would be good if they could be out there, but you just learn in this business that you just cannot rush it as much as you want to, especially when they are younger,” Reich said. “When it’s Castonzo, you can say, ‘Okay, another couple of days. Let’s just be 100 percent sure.’ But when it’s a young guy and you just realize he’s trying, you’re trying to establish something.
“You want them to get every rep, but you just have to be smart. I think those guys have really been into it in the meetings and trying to get involved in any way they can.”Kemoko returned under adverse conditions. Practice ended a bit sooner with the rain coming down constantly during the joint session with the Ravens at Grand Park.
These sessions can get heated, as recently shown in a joint practice brawl between the N.Y. Jets and Washington Redskins.
That wasn’t the case with these Colts and Ravens.
“In my mind, I didn’t see no rain. I had fun out here,” Turay said. “I just try to psych myself, ‘It was hot today. It was 95. It felt good.’ No excuses for no one on the team.”
Of course, having another team to compete against rather than each other helps with the energy as well.
Turay jumped back into the thick of things at a good time to apply most of what he has been learning in the film room and on the sideline.
“Competition, that’s something else, especially against a different team we about to play on Monday,” he said. “It brings a different energy, to see what we’re about, to see the stuff we been going over, so it just felt great.”
The teams will practice together again on Saturday at Grand Park before the Week 2 exhibition.