The biggest position battle entering training camp for the Colts was at safety. Not only were there questions about who would even make the roster, there were even bigger questions about who would be starting.
LaRon Landry, a free agent signing last offseason, will hold down one of the spots as long as he's healthy. There's simply too much money invested in him to do otherwise, and quite honestly, he's probably the best option the Colts have at either safety spot right now, even after his bad year in 2013. At the other spot, Antoine Bethea left in free agency after being the Colts starting safety for eight seasons, not missing a single game for the past six. We all saw the void at the other safety spot and couldn't wait to see how it played out in camp.
Well, training camp is now over, and we're no closer to figuring out who the starting safety will be, and there's no real timetable as to when we'll find out. "I don't know when we're going to make that decision," head coach Chuck Pagano said Tuesday. "It might be six o'clock Mountain Standard Time, I don't know, on the seventh of September. I think it'll be earlier than that."
Defensive coordinator Greg Manusky was just as non-committal when he spoke with the media on Sunday. "I think they are all in the same battle and it's hard to just say okay after one game this guy is the starter," Manusky said. "You want the body of work going through training camp and that is why at the end of training camp, we will announce the starters where they are. From a standpoint, this guy might have a good game, one guy did, the other guy might pick up the next three games. It is a body of work that these guys have to do during training camp and we will make a decision at the end."
So what'd we see in camp? I was there most days watching practice, and what did I see? I saw a coaching staff and a team that really doesn't know who's going to start. I thought that there might be a slight favorite, and I guess that was Delano Howell entering camp, but ever since then it has been a constant rotation and shuffling. One day Howell might be working with the first team and the next day it might be Mike Adams, or Colt Anderson, or Sergio Brown. Or on those days when LaRon Landry isn't practicing, it's a combination of two of them. And even then, there will be shuffling within the practices. One safety might be working as the first team safety in the defensive walkthroughs, but then other guys are rotating in during team drills.
When camp started out, LaRon Landry was out with an injury and it was pretty much exclusively Delano Howell and Sergio Brown as the two safeties. That made perfect sense, given that they were the two that had been with the team a while. But after a week or so, Mike Adams began to get into the mix. Then recently, in the past week or so, Colt Anderson has really entered the mix, with Sergio Brown not getting nearly as many looks with the first team.
Now, however, we might have a slight indication of who is going to be the starter, though it's not the way we want. Delano Howell has been sitting out this past week with a neck injury. That's not good, especially considering that it was a neck injury that caused him to land on IR last year. The impression I get is that this injury isn't that serious or anything like that and the Colts are just being cautious, but with the caution they're giving other guys a chance to step in and start.
I have a hard time seeing Colt Anderson really winning the job, but he's getting looks with the first team for sure. I also have a hard time seeing Sergio Brown winning the job, and it seems like his time with the first team has really decreased this past week. I think, like I did entering camp, that it'll come down to Mike Adams and Delano Howell. All I've really learned through camp and one preseason game, however, is that the Colts have added more names to the mix, and that we really don't have a good idea of who is going to start in week one.
I still think it'll come down to Adams versus Howell, and with Howell missing time this week, Mike Adams has a good opportunity. It wouldn't surprise me if the veteran safety is starting for the Colts in week one on Sunday Night Football against his former Denver Broncos team, but the only thing we know for sure right now is that we don't know anything for sure about the safety spot. It's still a big question mark as we wrap up training camp.