21 of 22 starters from last season are returning, with many of those starters with three years experience or less. This means there will be very few position battles in training camp that will affect the starting line-up. Obviously, injuries change everything, but right now the starting units for the Colts on offense and defense are pretty well set.
We should consider our team lucky.
I've targeted only a few areas where there should be some kind of "battle" for position: 4th WR, back-up TE, starting OG, and special teams returner. None of these areas sounds sexy in terms of intrigue (expect maybe special teams returner), but all battles will be fierce and hard fought.
Today, we'll focus on the 4th WR position. I know, sounds about as interesting as sex with Delta Burke. But, with so many questions about Marvin Harrison's health and Anthony Gonzalez playing the slot WR position full time, it's possible the #4 WR could get pressed into starting early on, especially during pre-season. Two players are vying for the #4 spot: Roy Hall and Devon Aromashodu.
Photo: A.J. Macht, Colts.com
Both Hall and Aromashodu are young guys, but while Hall is entering his second season, Aromashodu is actually younger than Hall but entering his third season. Hall was drafted by the Colts out of Ohio State while Aromashodu was drafted by the Miami Dolphins in the 7th round in 2006. He later found himself on the Houston Texans practice squad in 2007, but was signed off the practice squad by the Colts last November.
Both Aromashodu (6'2) and Hall (6'3) offer size and speed to the WR position, and both are pushing to back-up either Harrison or Wayne, more likely Harrison. Make no mistake, Gonzo is the slot WR in 2008 no matter what. It now seems unlikely that the Colts will press him into outside WR duty. So, while the 4th WR spot doesn't sound like a big deal, it actually is. If anything happens to Harrison or Wayne, either Aromashodu or Hall will start games and be expected to produce.
Roy Hall is healthy again.
Photo via cache.daylife.com
Both players are also "project" WRs. Aromashodu saw extensive action last season, playing in five games, including the playoffs. He was signed November 14th and immediately thrust into playing in an offense that has allows the QB to audible at any time. Not a fun experience for Aromashodu, who struggled. It's tough to fault Aromashodu. Learning the Colts offense in less than a week and then immediately getting pressed into playing is not an easy thing. Even a brainiac like Gonzo had problems learning the Colts offense, and he had the benefit of training camp.
Roy Hall spent much of this off-season working at a WR clinic, improving his route-running and receiving. Hall is now healthy after injuring his shoulder in a violent special teams collision. The advantage Hall might have over Aromashodu is his special teams value. It is rare that a WR can thrive as a ST gunner.
What is clear is that whoever wins the position battle will provide the Colts with an extra receiving weapon along the goal-line. Dungy always says that a player makes his biggest jump from year one to year two. Both Hall and Aromashodu (technically) are making that jump. It will be interesting to see how far.
Between the two, who do you think will win the job?