WESTFIELD — It was a tough 2018 season for Jack Doyle, who was limited to just six games by hip and kidney injuries.
So the veteran tight end is finding the positive in training camp, even as he recuperates from an oblique injury that has sidelined him for the past week.
“It’s a little frustrating,” Doyle said. “I was starting to feel a little rhythm coming back, but (that’s) part of it, and I just gotta keep working.”
The good news is Doyle said the hip injury is completely behind him. He wasn’t thinking about the hip at all when he was on the field, which he took as a good sign, and the kidney ailment was resolved months ago.
Eric Ebron emerged in Doyle’s absence with a record-setting season, and Mo Alie-Cox accelerated his development with an expanded role.
There are high hopes for that trio this season, but it’s likely to be awhile still before the Indianapolis Colts see them together on the field.
Doyle isn’t likely to play in Thursday's preseason opener at the Buffalo Bills, though he is hoping to get some snaps in before the exhibition season ends.
The main goal for now is to get back to full strength and then focus on getting back into the flow of the football season.
“It’s difficult every year, honestly,” Doyle said of rediscovering that rhythm. “You do it a little bit every year. So I would say it was more time it was going to take to get that rhythm back, I guess. But it’s coming back. It is.”
The changes — or lack thereof — with the technique along the offensive line are likely to be a major storyline throughout the early season.
The Colts allowed the fewest sacks in the NFL (18) last season but parted ways with offensive line coach Dave DeGuglielmo at year’s end. DeGuglielmo now is the offensive line coach for the Miami Dolphins, and former Denver Broncos assistant coach Chris Strausser was hired to replace him in Indianapolis.
Longtime Colts offensive line coach Howard Mudd also was brought back as a senior offensive assistant, and he likes what he saw from the unit last year.
Mudd is more interested in how many times the quarterback is hit — and why it’s happening — than he is with the sack numbers at the end of the year.
And he’s quick to point out avoiding sacks is about more than the offensive line. In that regard, he thinks Indianapolis is in good shape — beginning with quarterback Andrew Luck.
“He can decide (quickly). He knows exactly where to go with the ball,” Mudd said. “There are very few times where his decision process is scattered, so he’s really good at what he does. The receivers got themselves open and then the protectors, we had extra things that we did.
“Whether it was the tight end slamming a guy before he left or a back coming out and chipping a guy. Those kinds of things are enormous. They’re all part of the same thing. So it isn’t just the five guys up front blocking, but they did a good job.”
PLAY OF THE DAY
T.Y. Hilton electrified a capacity crowd for Fan Appreciation Day on Sunday.
His first big play came on a 70-yard touchdown throw by Jacoby Brissett, who perfectly dropped the pass just over his shoulder as the wide receiver beat cornerback Quincy Wilson by a step.
The second touchdown was a 30-yard pass from Brissett that was more of a laser and just slipped past cornerback Pierre Desir in tight coverage.