We have roughly one week and change of training camp in the bag, and the Colts have posted their first depth chart of 2012. As our own correctly pointed out, digging too deeply into the depth chart right now is foolish. This is list is specific for the first preseason game against the Rams. After that, the chart will change. Also, factor in that two guys (Moise Fokou and Greg Lloyd) were just acquired via a trade late last week. To expect them to be listed as starters, or second string, at this point is unrealistic.
Based on camp reports, we know Fokou and Lloyd have made a strong impression at camp. Look for the to move up the chart after the Rams game.
For everyone else, all the depth chart can do for us now is give a general, basic overview of how the Colts coaches and front office view certain players. For example:
- Chris Rucker, a sixth round pick of Chris Polian's last year, is listed dead last on the corner depth chart. Yeah, he's pretty much getting cut any day now.
- Mewelde Moore, a Bruce Arians guy signed as a free agent this offseason, is listed as the primary back-up to Donald Brown at running back.
- George Foster, who some were surprised to see signed, is the main back-up at left tackle.
- LaVon Brazill listed as the primary punt returner over T.Y. Hilton is interesting. Nothing earth-shattering or "OMG! HILTON SUCKS!" But, interesting.
After looking over the camp reports, reading the depth chart "tea leaves," and watching some game tape courtesy of the NFL's new All-22 footage, here is my assessment of the Colts after their first week of training camp:
- I feel much better about the wide receivers. They are, by no means, a complete group. However, they do show a lot of promise, and I've heard good things regarding with Donnie Avery. This good news should be tempered by Avery's brittle M.O. He is not a durable player, and him getting injured a few days ago caused more than a few people to wonder if he will last the entire season. If he does, he offers something: Speed. Avery, LaVon Brazill, and T.Y. Hilton have showcased some serious speed. Also, all three have displayed good hands. A lack of speed at WR the last two seasons really limited the Colts offense. With some of these new players, I think speed at wideout will not be an issue.
- The Colts will be able to rush the passer. Early reports are Dwight Freeney is working mostly with the defensive line, and he is listed on the depth chart as a "Rush" backer. With Freeney playing 75% of the time with his hand on the ground, and with Chuck Pagano looking to get creative in where they rush him from, I'm not worried about the pass rush. Over the next week, I'll be wathcing game tape of Baltimore's defense last year to get a sense of how the Colts will use Freeney in 2012.
- The offensive line is woefully thin. The front office effectively giving up on Ben Ijalana was a major blow. I don't disagree with them placing Ijalana on waived-injured (which is a polite way of saying "seeya" to a player), but the franchise busting on a second rounder like Ijalana hurts. Again, that's not Ryan Grigson's fault, but it does damage the franchise's talent pool. Jeff Linkenbach and Joe Reitz are battling for the LG spot, and neither one are especially good. If anything happens to Anthony Castonzo, who is developing into a stud LT, the Colts are in serious trouble.
- Even though they talent isn't great, it's nice to see the competition at corner bringing out the best in certain players. I'm rooting for Justin King, Cassius Vaughn, and Korey Lindsey. All three have shown flashes at camp, but haven't shown consistent playmaking ability. I still think the Colts will make a few more moves at this position before preseason ends.
- I think Mewelde Moore will beat out everyone and start for the Colts at RB. Donald Brown is being given his last shot, but I haven't read anything (or been told anything) suggesting he's taken a leap. Arians loves Moore because he is so versatile.
- Impressed that Antonio Johnson managed to bulk up to 330 lbs (or so he says). He's either made great strides as a NT, or Brandon McKinney is so bad he can't beat out a guy who has never played nose in a 3-4 his entire professional career. It's very important that 'Mookie' Johnson stop the run from the NT spot. If he struggles, the whole defense falls apart.
- It's difficult to temper the expectations I have for Andrew Luck. I've heard seasoned reporters who have covered this team for decades tell me that they have never seen a rookie look this good. "Better than Peyton in 1998?" I've asked. "Yes, better," they've answered.
If you've been to camp and have some additional observations, toss them in the comments. Our own Josh Wilson will be at tonight's night practice, tweeting updates and other news.