Over the past month and a half, we have been looking position by position at the current Indianapolis Colts roster, and finally, football is about ready to begin. The Colts report to training camp this Saturday (July 28) and their first practice is the following day, Sunday, July 29.
This year, camp will feature a new coaching staff, pretty much an entirely new roster, and a new culture. There are so many things to watch for, but here I have outlined a few of the key players and a few of the key battles to watch in training camp.
- Starting Left Cornerback
Right now, there are not many options at cornerback that would make me feel comfortable. Actually, there are no options at cornerback that would make me feel comfortable. Jerraud Powers will start at right cornerback, but as I mentioned in my breakdown of the position, I have concerns about him being able to stay healthy.
The options for the starting left corner look to include Kevin Thomas, Chris Rucker, Terrence Johnson and Justin King. The first three each started for Indianapolis at times last season, while King started for the St. Louis Rams a year ago. Regardless of who gets the nod as the starter, it is important to note others who impress. They will not only play in nickel and dime packages, but in the case of an injury (which, remember, Powers is injury-prone), they could be starting.
Prediction: Kevin Thomas starts at left cornerback
- Running Back
This position may have the most depth of any on the Colts, but not the best players. In short, this position is quantity over quality. Donald Brown had a breakout year in 2011, but that is compared to his first two seasons. He was certainly a pleasant surprise last year, but is not guaranteed of the starting spot for this year. Delone Carter and rookie Vick Ballard look to take the starting spot, and even newcomer Mewelde Moore could make a push for the job, albeit his chances are dismal.
Carter was very impressive last year until his fumbling issues led to him seeing diminished playing time and him running with less confidence. If he can play like he did early on last year, I think he is the best back on the roster. The coaches are supposedly high on Ballard, and with an impressive camp could be starting.
Prediction: Donald Brown starts at running back... but not for long (I think Carter will overtake him sometime this season)
The battle between Joe Reitz and Ben Ijalana will certainly be one of the most interesting to watch. Reitz saw decent playing time last season, while Ijalana was injured before we really saw much of him. I would be alright with either one of these players starting, but I think Ijalana has more potential long term.
Both of them were injured last season, so the one who does not get the starting job in camp may very well end up starting at some point during the season. This position is narrowed down to two players, but it is still very undecided.
Prediction: Ben Ijalana earns the starting spot
Players to watch:
Do I really need to explain why Andrew Luck is on this list? Of course Colts' fans and media alike are going to want to see the franchise quarterback's first training camp.
As I stated in my breakdown of the outside linebacker positon, I have doubts about the adjustment of Freeney and Mathis from defensive end to linebacker (namely Freeney). This is something I hope to be really surprised by (in a good way), but regardless they will be key players to watch.
Very talented but inconsistent, Samson Satele has big shoes to fill in replacing fan favorite and borderline hall of fame center Jeff Saturday. I have high hopes for Satele, but I want to see him improve and become a consistent producer.