Almost a week into Indianapolis Colts training camp, the early reviews are clear.
Rookie wide receiver Phillip Dorsett has speed and game, veteran (don't call him old) running back Frank Gore can still accelerate, the offensive line remains a question mark and sack master Robert Mathis looks cute when he plays with his three children on the sideline.
“Timetables” remain a thing, including Mathis' timetable to return, which is sooner (according to Mathis, who's shooting for the opener) or later (according to Jim Irsay, who projects another month after that). Wide receiver T.Y. Hilton's timetable for a new deal remains fluid, as well, although agent Drew Rosenhaus chatted up reporters with the notion that both sides are fully in love and only the details remain to be worked out.
The good news revolves primarily around Dorsett and Gore, the fresh ingredients thrown into the Colts' offense along with wide receiver Andre Johnson. Johnson might end up making the biggest impact, but he's not going to be flashy in training camp in the same way Dorsett and Gore have been.
Dorsett arrived known for his speed, but he's demonstrated the other facets of his game, such as his ability to change directions on a dime, maneuver his body in mid-air and display incredible hands.
It was natural to question the Colts' decision to use a first-round pick on Dorsett when they had other seemingly more pressing needs. But there's no question, in the limited view of training camp, that he can deliver.
“His football instincts, and his ability to take the information from the meetings out to the practice field. I'll have to give him a double thumbs up from that standpoint,” Colts offensive coordinator Pep Hamilton said. “He's a guy that our quarterback is starting to trust even more and the more reps that he gets with Andrew (Luck) the more he will be able to contribute in our offense.”
Gore, meanwhile, darts his way through offensive holes with a quickness and purpose that reflect his previous accomplishments. It looks stunning to Colts observers after so long watching Trent Richardson's slow-motion approach.
There's an all-business demeanor to Gore that should be admired. He seems to attack every day as a player who has something to prove.
“When everybody else is in the offseason traveling to the Bahamas or Aruba and going here and going there and getting on boats and doing things like that,” Colts coach Chuck Pagano said, “(Gore) is down in Miami grinding.”
Gore's age (32) and 10 years of grinding in the NFL give some people pause. The Colts see nothing but freshness, and his play in the limited time so far shows a veteran player but not a worn-down player.
“He looks great,” Pagano said.
As for the offensive line, the sudden release of right tackle Gosder Cherilus – a business decision to admit Cherilus wasn't effective – made it clear the Colts are confident in Jack Mewhort moving from left guard to right tackle. Mewhort seems comfortable in the spot, too. It should be upgrade.
Anthony Castonzo – another big cog with a contract to address – brings stability and production at left tackle, but Lance Louis at left guard and Khaled Holmes at center still must prove they can deliver consistently. That's a question that won't be answered in training camp, but will show up, positively or negatively, once the season hits.
That brings us to Mathis, who was put on the physically unable to perform (PUP) list to open camp. That was not a surprise, but Irsay's proclamation that he's likely out until late September or early October is a revision of Mathis' previous goal.
That could be Irsay tempering expectations so no one worries about a setback if Mathis doesn't play before early October. Let's say he makes his debut Oct. 4 against Jacksonville. That would give him two weeks to sharpen his play before the Oct. 18 game against the New England Patriots.
Sounds like perfect timing, after all.