Today is the day. Colts players report to Anderson University for training camp 2013. Tomorrow, Sunday, the team will take the practice field for the first time of the season at 1:50 PM. From that point on, we will constantly be watching the team to see just how improved they are. The Colts were 11-5 last season and made the playoffs, but the record wasn't indicative of the talent level. Ryan Grigson set out to change that this offseason, and he spent over $100 million in an effort to make the Colts a legitimate contender in not just the AFC South but the AFC as a whole. We're all anxious and excited to see just how much better the team will be. Here are five things in particular to be watching during training camp.
1. Bjoern Werner
Of course the first round draft pick has to make this list, right? But added to that is the fact that the team expects Werner to make an immediate contribution through the pass rush, a unit that is severely lacking outside of Robert Mathis. The hope and expectation of Werner is that he can change that. Also added to that is that he is transitioning from defensive end to outside linebacker, so there's that progression to keep an eye on too. And then there's also the fact that he will be in a pretty big camp battle with Erik Walden for the starting spot. There are numerous reasons to keep an eye on Bjoern Werner in camp and all of them are valid - there's no way around it, Werner will be a focal point at camp.
2. The Offensive Line Lineup
The unit that Ryan Grigson needed to address the most in the offseason was the offensive line, and the former lineman did just that. Grigson brought in right tackle Gosder Cherilus, guard Donald Thomas, guard Hugh Thornton, and center Khaled Holmes through free agency and the draft, and camp will be an interesting time to see who is playing where and with what team. Who is starting? We won't get to see how good this line really can be until we get to live game action, but we will be able to see how they play together and who has the edge for the starting spots. Especially on the interior of the line (right guard and center) with the rookies, it will be interesting to see. This was the weakest unit last year and one of the most important to the Colts success in 2013, so it obviously will be something to watch during camp.
3. Josh Chapman
Fans have had big expectations for the big man ever since the Colts drafted Josh Chapman in the fifth round last year. And it's not just the fans, either. The coaches have talked him up, the media has talked him up, the fans have talked him up - safe to say there's a lot of expectations for Josh Chapman. Like with the offensive linemen, we won't be able to see exactly how good he will be this year, but we should be able to get an idea of how healthy he is and the bottom line is that this is the first time that we will get to see him on the field. That alone makes him someone to watch throughout training camp.
4. Pep Hamilton's Offense and Andrew Luck
The change of offensive coordinators was one of the most discussed moves of the offseason for the Colts, and most people were in favor of the change. There has been a lot of speculation and discussion as to just what the offense will look like exactly, and in camp we should begin to get an idea. We won't see the offense in it's entirety or at it's best, but we will begin to get an idea as to just what to expect from Hamilton's offense this year. In addition, we will get to see how Hamilton conducts himself as a coach, and we will also get a look at how Andrew Luck does leading this offense that he's pretty familiar with (hint: he will look pretty good).
5. Chuck Pagano and the Defense
One thing that many people don't fully think about entering this year is the fact that second year coach Chuck Pagano coached the Colts for only 5 games last year. The game day atmosphere will be somewhat different than that when Bruce Arians was the head coach, so that will be something to watch in the regular season. But that said, Pagano did indeed run camp last year and coached in all 4 preseason games, so that's more of a regular season issue. Last year in camp, Pagano was very involved with the defense and left Arians alone with the offense, for the most part. Does the head coach have the same level of trust in Pep Hamilton? I hope so and I think he probably does, but it will be interesting to see just how involved Pagano is with the defense. That's something to watch during camp, as well as how the defense is progressing, who is playing where, and what the overall feel of the defense is. It's year two of transitioning to a hybrid 3-4 defense, and there should be significant improvement now that the Colts have more players fit for the system. It will be something to keep an eye on.
Agree? Disagree? Think we missed something? Let us know what you are looking forward to seeing at Colts camp!