Of course my first post had to involve Andrew Luck, right?
All eyes will be on Luck, and rightly so. He is the future of the franchise. But many other things will deserve watching. The Colts have completely redone their roster. They have a new coaching staff, implementing new systems. The offense will be different, as Peyton Manning is no longer running the show. The defense is switching from a 4-3 scheme to a 3-4, which will require much work and patience from the team and it's fans.
The corner back position is an obvious hole in the Colts' roster that has been well documented. The running back position is a toss up, and I am not sure any of the options are great ones. It will be interesting to see who returns kicks and punts, as well. I have singled out the three positions or players that I have my eye on the most this week, starting with a pretty easy one.
1. Quarterback Andrew Luck
Of course Andrew Luck is number one. Minicamp is another step in his acclimation to the National Football League, and for Luck it is a bigger step than for others because he missed the team's OTAs due to school. Luck's only experience with the Colts thus far has come in rookie camp, so Luck has not gotten the opportunity to work with the veterans. Namely, wide receiver Reggie Wayne. Wayne is clearly the Colts' number one receiving target, and Luck will need to develop chemistry with Wayne if he is to have early success. Minicamp will mark the first time the two have worked together.
Also interesting will be how Luck commands the offense. Luck is a very smart guy and should have no problems running the offense, but will that leadership and poise appear during his first three practices?
Andrew Luck will be the focal point of everything Colts related this week, and rightly so. That said, there are many other players to keep an eye on.
2. The Linebackers
This position now includes Dwight Freeney and Robert Mathis, formerly the best pass rush duo in the NFL. They have been converted from a 4-3 defensive end to outside linebackers in the 3-4. They have been learning the defense but again, now the whole team will be together. How will Freeney and Mathis adjust to their new positions? Many people have said that Mathis will adjust nicely but that Freeney will not. I am one of those people, but do we actually know yet? Not really. In no way am I expecting Mathis and Freeney to have the position all nailed down by mid-June, but they should not be overwhelmed or struggle mightily either. Again, they have been practicing this position. It is mid-June, but I am very interested to see how the two adjust to the outside linebacker position, especially Dwight Freeney.
The other linebackers, the inside backers, figure to be Pat Angerer and Kavell Conner. Both are good young players, but there is work to be done with them as well. In the 3-4 defense, the linebackers are expected to make most of the plays. Can Angerer and Conner step up? I think they can, but it will be interesting to watch.
3. The Defensive Line
No, the corner back position did not make this list. In my opinion, there is not much to learn, besides which bad corner are the Colts going to start alongside Jerraud Powers. The position is likely not finished being addressed yet, either. The defensive line is a big question mark in my opinion as well. They play a huge role in a 3-4 scheme. Their job is basically to fill the gaps on the offensive line and make sure the lineman are accounted for. They are not expected to make plays (again that is the linebackers), but if a play does not turn out they are usually the ones that are blamed. Who will play on the defensive line for the Colts in 2012? Rookie nose tackle Josh Chapman looks like he could be solid in the middle of the line, but he is recovering from a torn ACL. Guys like Brandon McKinney and Chigbo Anunoby will likely occupy the NT positions until Chapman comes back. If he does not make it back by the start of the season, these guys will be expected to fill in nicely.
The defensive ends will likely start out as Cory Redding and Fili Moala, but they are not guaranteed a starting spot. Drake Nevis and Ricardo Matthews, among others, will be trying to earn playing time. The defensive line is an essential part of success in the 3-4 defense. It will be interesting to see how the line is coming along.
With so much change going on in Indianapolis, there will be a lot of players and positions to keep an eye on. I singled out the three I am most interested in, but there are others, such as the corners, running backs, wide receivers, and so on.
Let me know what you are most interested in seeing during minicamp.
The Colts will conduct their mandatory minicamp for all players (veteran and rookies alike) this week, from Tuesday, June 12th to Thursday, June 14th. The June 13th practice (Wednesday) will be at Lucas Oil Stadium and it will be open to the public. Practice starts at 2:00 pm ET.