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What we learned from Colts OTA: Josh Downs, Adonai Mitchell make plays in passing game

INDIANAPOLIS — Rookie wide receiver Adonai Mitchell has more opportunities to shine in the organized team activities than most of the rest of the draft class.

Because the Colts are not in full pads, first-round pass rusher Laiatu Latu and the team’s pair of mid-round offensive linemen, Matt Goncalves and Tanor Bortolini, are limited in what they’ll be able to do until training camp.

“Obviously, there is a lot of passing going on right now without pads on, but you can see the competition out there with the DBs, wide receivers, linebackers,” Indianapolis head coach Shane Steichen said.

Mitchell made a couple of intriguing plays during Thursday’s organized team activity, which was open to the media, including the biggest play of the day.

Dropping back in a 7-on-7 drill, starting quarterback Anthony Richardson found Mitchell in one-on-one coverage deep down the middle of the field, fired a ball up for the rookie and Mitchell tracked it down, falling and diving to his left to make the big play.

Richardson had already tried a handful of deep shots in the practice to a bunch of different receivers. Until Mitchell’s catch, none had been completed.

The rookie also made a nice grab on a comeback route a little bit later in the practice, showing off the separation the Colts have touted since they drafted him.

“The explosiveness that he goes off the ball and wins one-on-ones. He’s been making a ton of plays out here the last couple days. Really good to see those one-on-one winners. He’s going to bring an element to our offense that we’re really excited about.”

Josh Downs stepping up

The team’s No. 1 target, Michael Pittman Jr., was held out of Thursday’s organized team activity due to the minor knee injury he suffered in a collision in practice last week.

Colts news: Indianapolis Colts wide receiver Michael Pittman Jr. leaves practice after collision

“He’s in a good spot, we’re just resting him,” Steichen said. “Like, could he go out there and practice right now? Yeah, probably. We’re just going to be smart with him though.”

With Pittman watching from the sidelines, slot receiver Josh Downs took center stage.

Downs caught at least six balls in the practice, working mostly in the short to intermediate range built for the slot receiver.

Richardson did try to hit Downs deep on the sideline on one play, but Downs got caught a little bit on the inside, and the pass went to the outside.

Defensive wins

The Colts secondary did not have the big, splashy plays in this week’s open practice.

But they were still able to make their presence felt, most notably in breaking up most of the deep throws by Richardson and by forcing the quarterbacks to hold onto the ball longer than they’d like in 7-on-7 drills.

Richardson was forced a couple of times to hold onto the ball long enough that he likely would have pulled it down and scrambled in a game, and third-string quarterback Sam Ehlinger faced the same problem on a rollout to the left.

“If they cover it up and there is nowhere to throw it, absolutely, defense wins those reps,” Steichen said. “You get out of the pocket and treat it like scramble rules and if you’ve got a guy open, throw it, and if not, throw it away.”

Quick hitters

Running back Jonathan Taylor was not present because of a personal matter. … Defensive end Dayo Odeyingbo missed the OTA because he was at a wedding. … Right tackle Braden Smith (offseason knee surgery), wide receiver Ashton Dulin (recovery from torn ACL), tight end Mo Alie-Cox, linebacker Segun Olubi and cornerback Chris Lammons (leg) did not practice.

This article originally appeared on Indianapolis Star: What we learned from Colts OTA: Josh Downs, Adonai Mitchell make plays