WESTFIELD – Tick, tick, tick.
Time was running out, but it wasn’t time for Mike Strachan to see his first action of training camp.
The Indianapolis Colts’ second-year wideout missed the first 10 practices of training camp at Grand Park Sports Campus after undergoing arthroscopic surgery to repair a torn meniscus in his knee during the spring. He opened camp on the physically unable to perform list (PUP), but was added to the active roster Tuesday.
Later in the day, he was taking reps with the second unit in 7-on-7 and 11-on-11 drills.
“It’s been a long journey, a long process,’’ Strachan said. “I’ve embraced the process, been working each and every day.
“I’m glad to be back.’’
Strachan spent the first three-plus weeks of camp looking on from the periphery. The 2021 7th-round pick wasn’t ready to contribute as a rookie after playing at Division II Charleston and missing 2020 because of the COVID-19 pandemic – two catches for 26 yards – but was expected to challenge for one of the roster spots at wideout.
Instead, he had to look on in shorts and a T-shirt as others took valuable reps.
“I’ve been thinking about that, but . . . it wasn’t my time, yet,’’ Strachan said. “I didn’t want to come back too early. For me to be out here, I want to be out here 100%. That was my goal, to come back 100%.’’
He brings size, strength and speed to the position: 6-5, 225 pounds.
“My mindset was just to dominate, to come out and be the beast that I am,’’ Strachan said. “I want to come out here to use my size, my strength and my speed to my advantage.’’
The training staff has put no restrictions on Strachan, and he felt confident running routes.
“Today (felt) great, planting and coming out of routes,’’ he said. “I’m feeling pretty smooth.
“I can’t be out there running half-speed. I’m full-go.’’
Strachan’s inclusion in 7-on-7 and teamwork was something of a surprise considering how much he had missed. Returning Tuesday allows him to get additional work when the Colts have joint workouts with Detroit Wednesday and Thursday, and in Saturday’s preseason game with the Lions at Lucas Oil Stadium.
Offensive coordinator Marcus Brady insisted Tuesday was a good opportunity for Strachan “to get his feet wet, get the limited reps.
“He didn’t look hampered at al. He looked good. So now it’s just building the endurance up again.’’
The top four receiver spots likely are locked up by Michael Pittman Jr., Parris Campbell, rookie Alec Pierce and Ashton Dulin. The No. 5 slot seems wide open.
About those joint workouts
Count linebacker Zaire Franklin in the group looking forward to sharing the practice field with the Lions. Normally, the intensity level is ratcheted up several notches.
“Joint practice is always my favorite part of training camp just because I feel like it’s really the only time you get to hone your skills against somebody outside of the building,’’ he said. “It’s a little different when you’re going against (Jonathan Taylor), Nyheim (Hines).
“Obviously we push each other all year, but those guys are your guys, so you want to take care of them to an extent. These other guys, I don’t care, so you really get better.’’
Pittman vs. Gilmore
The daily Pittman and Stephon Gilmore competition has been spirited, and that was the case again Tuesday.
At one point, Gilmore was keeping loose on a stationary bike and casually chatting with the media. Pittman came over and playfully asked what Gilmore was telling the media about him.
On the field, the give-and-take continued, and it involved Gilmore’s colleagues.
In a 7-on-7 drill, Matt Ryan delivered a pass to the left to Pittman. Cornerback Kenny Moore II tipped it and safety Julian Blackmon made a diving interception.
On the next play, Pittman got behind Gilmore with a nifty double move and Ryan hit him in stride for a big gain.
Don’t forget Hines
And just to remind everyone the playmaking threat the Colts have in Hines, Ryan sent him on a wheel route to the left against linebacker E.J. Speed. Hines used his sprinter’s speed to beat Speed and ran under Ryan’s pass for what would have been a long TD.
It’s been an eventful camp for Nick Cross, and the rookie safety added to his highlight reel.
In 11-on-11 drills, tight end Kylen Granson initially beat Cross, but Ryan’s deep pass was slightly underthrown. That allowed Cross to recover and bat the football away.
You can follow Mike Chappell on Twitter at @mchappell51.