As the Indianapolis Colts suit up for their first preseasons affair of the 2017 campaign, the die-hards will be using these matchups to evaluate the depth on the roster as opposed to looking for top-notch football. We’ve spoken about how interesting the training camp battles will be going forward, but today at least, there are a handful of injuries that will keep some of those pieces off the field.
Antonio Morrison and Jon Bostic won’t play today among a heavily rebuilt linebacker corps. The offensive line will be missing Ryan Kelly, probably Denzelle Good – who would have likely seen multiple snaps as a backup – and the like from a handful of the starters along the line, especially Jack Mewhort.
One position that will be mostly healthy, and likely one of the more interesting to watch today will be the group at cornerback.
Rashaan Melvin isn’t expected to be on the field, but we’ll likely get to see rookies Quincy Wilson and Nate Hairston get extensive snaps in his absence. Darryl Morris, Tevin Mitchel – who the Colts will be evaluating closely – as well as Dante Blackmon, Chris Milton and, one of my personal favorites, Tyvis Powell who is listed at safety but has gotten a lot of snaps at corner this summer.
We won’t see much from Vontae Davis, but for the rest of these guys it’s going to be the most important day of their careers. They have to prove that they can be quality depth, possibly a reliable backup or even exist on the NFL stage for that matter.
The Colts were 26th in the league in pass coverage last season per Football Outsiders, 27th in passing yards allowed per game, gave up 55 pass plays of 20 yards or more (25th), racked up only 8 interceptions – tied for second worst only to the Jaguars – and were 30th in passes defensed as well (68).
Okay, fair to say that the Colts are in desperate need for this cornerback group to stay, and remain healthy, and be significantly better in all aspects of pass coverage because those numbers are absolutely vomit-worthy.
As much as it seems that Morris has a lock on the starting nickel role, the No. 4 spot on the depth chart may be just as important. The Colts won’t likely use four corners on the field simultaneously very often, however, some of these guys who can prove their versatility will be watched very closely for those roles just the same.
The cornerback position is one that I’ve been excited to watch for months now. Better starters, some important experience and familiarity in the immediate backup roles and the appearance of better all-around depth in terms of talent will hopefully show itself often through the preseason including this initial experience.
Keep your eyes open today with this group. While it’s unlikely to see any of them solidify their roles this early on, but you will see which are gamers and can perform under the bright lights.