Aug 12, 2012; Indianapolis, IN, USA; Indianapolis Colts coach Chuck Pagano watches from the sidelines during a game against the St. Louis Rams at Lucas Oil Stadium. Indianapolis defeats St. Louis 38-3. Mandatory Credit: Brian Spurlock-US PRESSWIRE
Yesterday, the Indianapolis Colts wrapped up their 2012 training camp. It seems like it flew by. No worry, however, as that means that we are getting closer to starting games that actually matter.
With the Colts en route to Pittsburgh today for their Sunday night matchup against the Steelers, I thought I would look back at some of the big storylines of camp and highlight some of the things we learned.
Andrew Luck is good. Really good. Really, really good. Ok, you get the point, but he was impressive from day one. Every practice he was on, and we saw it on a bigger stage in his first preseason game as well. He will have his rookie struggles, but any concerns about the first overall draft pick have been squashed. He's good.
In Pagano we Trust: Entering camp I really liked Chuck Pagano. I have liked him ever since watching his introductory press conference, as a matter of fact. But I still wanted to see how he did running a football team. The former Ravens defensive coordinator has a big task with this Colts defense, including making the transition from a 4-3 defense to a base 3-4. I don't know how the defense will do this year, but let me tell you this much: I trust Chuck Pagano. After watching and hearing about him at camp, I am even more impressed. He brings a whole new energy that, quite frankly, this team hasn't had in a while. He also was very hands on in his coaching when I saw him, as he was personally working with players (defensive) to improve. That tells me a few things: 1) He is the one really running this defense, not Greg Manusky (the defensive coordinator). 2) He completely trusts Bruce Arians to run his offense. 3) Pagano is investing in his players, which hopefully in return will result in them playing all the more harder for him.
The receiver position appears to have good depth... if they can stay healthy. Reggie Wayne, Austin Collie, Donnie Avery, T.Y. Hilton, LaVon Brazill, Kris Adams, Quan Cosby, Jabin Sambrano, Griff Whalen... they all could make a case for a roster spot. Obviously, not all of them will get it, but having competition like that is good for any team. Wayne and Collie are established as very good targets, and as long as Collie stays healthy he is poised for a huge year. Donnie Avery has been injured, but will still likely make the roster. But his injury history and the fact that he is currently injured is a big concern. Hilton and Brazill really impressed in camp and both figure to get a lot of time with the first team offense. Adams and Cosby appear to be locked in a battle for the sixth receiver spot (yes, I think they will keep six). That will be one of the biggest battles to watch play out in the rest of preseason, and it is one I would not have predicted: Kris Adams and Quan Cosby for a spot on the 53 man roster.
Corner is still a question. Camp didn't change that. In fact, the guy I thought would be starting opposite of Jerraud Powers was traded away. Powers looked really good in camp, but after him I don't know. Justin King will likely start, with Cassius Vaughn playing nickel. But who knows, really? Camp didn't do much to answer our questions at this position, other than give us a depth chart to speculate about.
The tight ends look good. Coby Fleener had a few more drops than I would like, but he will be fine. He is a real good receiving target. And then Dwayne Allen really impressed in camp. The way the Colts' offense is structured, both of them will be in on most plays. Also, in the preseason game, I was really impressed with Dominique Jones. The Colts have three tight ends that I feel good about right now, which is obviously a positive.
I felt good about the offensive line entering camp. I don't anymore. They looked shaky in camp and in the game against the Rams as well. I hope that the issue is just that they haven't played much together, but I have my doubts. The line is really important, especially for Andrew Luck. He can escape pressure really well, but not every play. After camp, I am concerned with the offensive line. That's something I will be watching really closely in the last three preseason games.
Linebackers. Freeney and Mathis just may make this transition, which I had doubts about entering camp. However, now the inside linebacker position is a mess. The Colts lost A.J. Edds and Scott Lutrus to season ending injuries, and one of the leaders of their defense, Pat Angerer, for at least six weeks with a fractured foot. Jerrell Freeman, Moise Fokou, and Kavell Conner will now all be playing quite a bit. Conner is looking to keep his starting spot, while Freeman and Fokou are looking to take it once Angerer gets back. Until then, it will likely be Freeman starting, but Fokou could start or play with the first team quite a bit as well.
The injuries are back. Ben Ijalana, A.J. Edds, Scott Lutrus, and Buddy Jackson all lost for the year. Pat Angerer, Mike McGlynn, Delone Carter, and Mewelde Moore were all injured in Sunday's preseason game as well. Carter and Moore's do not seem very serious at all, and McGlynn's doesn't sound terrible. But either way you look at it, the Colts have only played one game and already have some big injuries.
Tomorrow night the Colts play the Steelers on NBC in primetime. It will be a much bigger test for the Colts than the Rams. After that, they return to Indianapolis to practice.
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