By George Bremer
The Herald Bulletin
---- — INDIANAPOLIS — Griff Whalen jumped high in the corner of the end zone and caught Chandler Harnish's pass at its peak.
When the wide receiver from Stanford came down with both feet inbounds, the Indianapolis Colts had another successful outcome in their "Detroit scenario" drill and Wednesday's open mini-camp practice at Lucas Oil Stadium was over.
The team announced more than 10,000 fans came through the turnstiles from the time the doors opened at 2 p.m. until practice ended around 7:45 p.m.
"I want to send a shout out to the fans," head coach Chuck Pagano said. "We've got the best fans, hands down, in the National Football League."
Those fans got a good look at a practice that ran slightly longer than two hours and provided a preview for training camp at Anderson University in late July.
The Colts have one more mini-camp session on Thursday at the Indiana Farm Bureau Football Center. Then there are no formal practices scheduled until the team arrives at AU.
That made this an important week for the team, and quarterback Andrew Luck likes what he's seen.
"A bunch of guys are playing well," he said. "Obviously, everybody knows what Reggie (Wayne) can do, and there's a bunch of guys fighting for spots, fighting to show coaches what they can do. It's nice to see everybody putting in 100 percent."
Luck did his best to quell concerns about the lack of big plays in this year's offensive gameplan. The Colts are switching from a wide-open vertical attack under former coordinator Bruce Arians to a more controlled West Coast-based system under new coordinator Pep Hamilton.
Some have feared that will lead to a "dink-and-dunk"offense that shies away from throws downfield.
On Wednesday, Luck threw touchdown strikes of 68 yards to Wayne, 63 yards to Whalen — after the receiver showed amazing focus to stay with the ball as it went through the arms of cornerback Greg Toler — and 30 yards to tight end Coby Fleener.
Each score came on a deep throw, and Luck added a big-gainer to Wayne off a flea-flicker from running back Vick Ballard.
"I think we put on a good show for the crowd," outside linebacker Robert Mathis said, "gave them something to look forward to this upcoming season."
The defense was not without its own highlights.
Toler intercepted a Luck overthrow intended for Wayne, and strong safety LaRon Landry burst into the backfield on a blitz that would have resulted in a sack if the play was live.
Backup safety Sergio Brown also made a nice play on a deep pass from reserve quarterback Matt Hasselbeck to T.Y. Hilton, leaping at the last second to cause a joust in mid-air and breaking up the play.
"There's a lot of talent, a lot of speed (on this team)," Pagano said. "We're starting to come together as a team. Our mindset and our goal was just to come out every day of the offseason and just get better every day."
One player absent from the action was running back Ahmad Bradshaw, who signed with the team on Tuesday. Bradshaw is recovering from surgery on his right foot and was wearing a boot during Wednesday's practice.
Pagano said that's just a precaution, however, with the team aiming to have the six-year veteran ready to fully participate at training camp.
It was Bradshaw's first time inside Lucas Oil Stadium since he scored the game-winning touchdown for the New York Giants against the New England Patriots two years ago in Super Bowl XLVI.
"It's a great feeling," he said. "Hopefully, great things will happen on this field while I'm here, also."