The regular season starts in a couple of weeks and the Colts open with Houston for the second consecutive time. Considering how much time Manning has missed, i expect this unit to be very rusty starting the season but win or lose game 1 i remain optimistic. The colts are back this year and they are healthy. Last yr, health was a big issue and if we can manage to maintain collie, clark garcon and wayne, we should be very successful this season especially in the passing game. Collie was almost unstoppable when he was on the field and Clark dictates match ups. The passing game should see noticeable improvement with the return of Clark and Collie.
Despite the injuries that plagued us last season we could have beaten the Jets if not off course for special teams. How many times have the Colts been cost games because of poor special teams. New kick off rule should help us in that area significantly. No Cromartie returning long kick offs to put the Jets in easy FG range. The new kick off rule though annoying to everyone myself included, we still can't deny it favors the Colts. Colts can't return the ball and they have trouble covering kicks on a consistent basis.
Melvin Bullit is back and he is healthy. Bullit isn't Bob Sanders but he is far more capable than Francisco and he makes plays so that is a big plus. Bethea is going to need to stay healthy though if he misses time the Colts will be in big trouble back there.
Its too early to tell how Ijalana and Costanzo turn out but with Costanzo already starting that is very good news. Colts rarely rush players in before their ready. The organization must have a lot of confidence that he can play. I hope Ijalana wins the starting RT job as well so Diem can stay at Guard where his mobility issues won't be as significant. I don't know how well they will do run blocking but as far as pass blocking if they are good i am happy. If Manning has time to make throws and isn't always getting hit then we are in very good shape.
The biggest issue that stands out is if these colts can finally stop the run. Colts didn't sign Pat Williams or some other big DT to at least free the undersized Lb's from being lost in their blocks. Instead they brought in DE/DT tweeners who they expect to help us play. Moala needs to show more improvement. Antonio Johnson needs to be really good and Drake Nevis and Tommie Harris need to contribute. So far Harris hasn't impressed me and if he doesnt by the end of pre season i say cut him. If the colts cannot stop the run again this year then we must prepare for another long year. Hughes also needs to be effective. Watching him play against the Rams, it simply doesn't seem like he is giving it a lot of effort. Hopefully he can be effective next year. Him being able to contribute to the pass rush will help maintain a healthy rotation so Freeney and Mathis can be as fresh as possible all season.
Corner back depth is also a cause for concern. Powers hasnt been healthy for a full season and as of now he is our best corner. Lacey played well his rookie yr but was quite disappointing last yr. Tryon played well so we don't have to worry about him but we really need contribution from Rucker and Thomas. Thomas most especially being a 3rd round pick needs to contribute. I would feel a lot better if Hayden was on this unit. While he isn't the best corner he has made enough plays when healthy. However since he still remains a free agent, my guess is that he has some significant health issues and thats why he was cut since cutting him only saved about 1 million anyway.
Overall though. The biggest issues have been addressed and the Colts seem poised to once again win the AFC south. The top passing weapons need to remain healthy though or the colts will be in trouble. The O line must play well and the D line must stop the run. The O line got 2 talented picks that should improve their play immediately and i am quite excited by the addition of Drake Nevis. However, our ability to stop the run consistently still remains a bit of a problem