As we continue to get closer and closer to the 2016 NFL season, it's time to really begin focusing on the current Indianapolis Colts team and, to a certain extent, on the state of their opponents. While we try to keep tabs on all 32 teams, it's no secret that we specifically focus on the Colts here at Stampede Blue to become experts on the team. One of the things that's awesome about being a part of a community of sites like we are here at SB Nation is that we get the chance to talk with other writers in a similar situation: people who truly study their teams and are experts on them.
Over the next two weeks, we're going to do just that. We have collaborated on a network-wide series of previews that will give you the inside scoop on each of the Colts' 13 opponents in 2016. Up first is the team the Colts will face at Lucas Oil Stadium in the season opener, the Detroit Lions.
The Colts and Lions will face off on Sunday, September 11 at 4:25 p.m., and it will be our first real look at both teams - the Colts with Andrew Luck back from injury and the Lions without Calvin Johnson due to his retirement this offseason. Here's what Pride of Detroit had to say about the Lions:
Detroit Lions 2016 preview
Notable free agent additions:
WR Marvin Jones, OT Geoff Schwartz, DB Tavon Wilson, DE Wallace Gilberry, RB Stevan Ridley, SS Rafael Bush
Notable free agent departures:
WR Calvin Johnson (retirement), SS Isa Abdul-Quddus, RB Joique Bell, DE Jason Jones
Received LB Jon Bostic for a conditional 2017 seventh-round pick
Draft picks expected to contribute as rookies:
1st round - OT - Taylor Decker (expected to start at left tackle)
2nd round - DT - A'Shawn Robinson (rotational player)
3rd round - C - Graham Glasgow - not currently slated as the starting center, but could take over sometime during the 2016 season.
4th round - SS - Miles Killebrew - Also not slated to be the starter, but Lions are weak at the position, so Killebrew could take over, or at least get some snaps during the season.
Biggest offseason addition:
WR - Marvin Jones. With Calvin Johnson's retirement, the Lions' No. 1 priority was to find a compliment to Golden Tate. The Lions wasted no time in grabbing Jones, signing him within a day of Johnson's retirement announcement. Taylor Decker is an honorable mention here, as the Lions' offensive line was atrocious in 2015.
Biggest storyline heading into training camp:
Will the emphasis on improving the offensive line pay off in 2016? The Lions offense hasn't been good in a while, but the Lions spent three of their first five draft picks on offensive linemen in 2016. It appears the Lions will be moving former left tackle Riley Reiff to the right side, while plugging in first-round draft pick Taylor Decker on the left. The Lions desperately need to get a running game going, and the shuffling of the offensive line could potentially help.
Under-the-radar storyline heading into training camp:
Is DeAndre Levy fully healthy, and if so, will his return improve the defense to its 2014 level of play? Levy had a mysterious hip injury in 2015, and while it appears he was fully healthy during OTAs and minicamp, still very little is known about the injury and his current health.
Notable injuries heading into training camp:
RB Ameer Abdullah - Had shoulder surgery in January, is expected to be ready for training camp.
TE Brandon Pettigrew - Tore his ACL in December. Did not participate in OTAs. Probably headed for PUP.
RB Stevan Ridley - Limited participation in OTAs; injury undisclosed, severity unknown
WR Corey Fuller - Underwent foot surgery in early June. Could cause him to miss the cut.