The Indianapolis Colts today began their three-day mandatory mini-camp, the last event of their 2016 offseason program. So far, they have been conditioning, learning the playbook, undergoing drills, and participating in OTAs, and this week they wrap it all up by holding three glorified OTA sessions that are mandatory for all players.
Things won't look much different for the Colts, who have had almost everyone in attendance so far, but it's a chance for the media to get a closer look at the team and for fans to get their first look.
The Colts' Tuesday and Thursday practices are open only to the media at the Colts' complex, but on Wednesday they take the field at Lucas Oil Stadium in front of their fans. That's always the crown jewel of the offseason program every year, and there are certainly things to watch for.
Of course, it's important to realize that it's only June and that there's only so much that can be learned from a mini-camp practice. At the same time, however, it's the best chance we'll have to evaluate the 2016 team until they hit the field in Anderson for training camp, so it's certainly worth paying attention to (if for nothing else, it's the last real football news we'll get until late July, so enjoy it while it lasts). We'll be on hand on Wednesday and provide complete updates, but here are a few things to be paying attention to.
The biggest thing to watch in offseason workouts like these are the injury situations. So far this offseason, guys like wide receiver Donte Moncrief, guard Hugh Thornton, wide receiver Phillip Dorsett, cornerback D'Joun Smith, tackle Denzelle Good, and punter Pat McAfee have been hampered by injuries, along with others - including the obvious players such as defensive linemen Henry Anderson and Arthur Jones. Some players (like Dorsett, Good, and McAfee) have returned to work, while others (like Moncrief, Thornton, and Smith) haven't. The offseason isn't a time to freak out about injuries, but it is a time to pay attention to them. Out of the group mentioned above, only Anderson and possibly Jones seem like strong candidates to miss time in training camp, but these situations are still worth paying attention to.
It's important not to make too much of offseason lineups, but without a doubt one of the most interesting aspects of discussion in regards to the Colts right now is what their lineups will be. There are a couple of areas on the roster in which starting spots are up for grabs, along with several others in which key depth roles are still open.
Along the offensive line, the question is who will start at right tackle and right guard? It has been hard to get a reading so far on who the favorite is at those spots, so it will be interesting to pay attention to.
At inside linebacker, the replacement for Jerrell Freeman has yet to be determined. The leading candidates right now appear to be Nate Irving and Sio Moore, though there are several others who could make a push too.
Then at tight end, the Colts are set with Dwayne Allen and Jack Doyle at the top of the depth chart, but the question remains how they will replace the production of Coby Fleener, as well as who the third tight end will be.
At wide receiver, there are a couple of spots open after the top three (T.Y. Hilton, Donte Moncrief, and Phillip Dorsett) that are completely up for grabs at this point.
And at outside linebacker, the Colts are thin, meaning that there is room for others to step up and grab a spot. The Colts need young pass rushers to emerge, as well as someone to back up Erik Walden. In short, there are a number of areas where competition is ongoing, and those areas are the ones where it will be most interesting to watch.
Andrew Luck returns
The last time the fans at Lucas Oil Stadium saw franchise quarterback Andrew Luck on the field was on November 8, 2015, when Luck was withstanding a beating to help the Colts beat the Broncos and their impressive defense. Unfortunately, he also suffered a lacerated kidney and torn abdominal muscle in that game, ending his season. The quarterback has returned to work this offseason with no limitations and is looking good, but Wednesday will be the first chance for Colts fans to see him since that week nine game last year.