After a long period without any real football to talk about, the start of training camp provides us with so much information to digest that we can feel like we’re drinking from a firehose. With that in mind, here are some things we have learned so far.
Position Battle Winners Are Beginning to Emerge
While there is a lot of time left to make an impression, there are already many clear front-runners for the many position battles taking place across the roster. Kevin Bowen of Colts.com has Chester Rogers as a virtual lock for the third wide receiver spot and that leaves guys fighting for the remaining spots.
At cornerback, Rashaan Melvin seems to have the starting role in hand across from Vontae Davis. This one is a battle worth watching closely because Quincy Wilson will be given every opportunity to win this role and could possibly do so by the end of the preseason. For right now though, it seems to be Melvin’s to lose.
The inside linebacker position is becoming clearer too, with Jonathan Bostic and Antonio Morrison getting most of the first-team looks. This position has been viewed by many as the Colts greatest weakness and really needs guys to step up and prove they can be effective. Our own Matt Danely was at training camp this week and said the unit was very aggressive, but he didn’t really see any individual standing out as had happened with many of the other defensive groups.
The Defensive Line Is a Team Strength
You read that right. The Colts defensive line is deeper than it has been in a very long time, and that depth is quality. With Johnathan Hankins playing defensive tackle, Al Woods at nose tackle, and Henry Anderson at defensive end, the starting lineup may be set. If training camp is any indication, Hankins would be better known as “unstoppable force” and Woods as “immovable object.”
When Kendall Langford’s and Hassan Ridgeway return they may push one of these guys for starting roles, but more likely will just fill in as solid rotational depth. When you throw in T.Y. McGill and Grover Stewart, who has flashed quick speed off the snap that could make him a valuable pass-rush guy for a team desperately in need of it, we have the makings of a very good defensive line unit that is deeper than perhaps any on the roster.
The Offensive Line Changeup is Here to Stay
It was a surprise when we saw that Joe Haeg and Jack Mewhort had been swapped at the guard positions, but many thought it made a welcome one. As we have continued through the first days of camp we are still seeing the line in that configuration. It appears this is the lineup we should expect going forward, and while we don’t know what prompted that change to be made, it has some obvious advantages like providing more veteran assistance to a right side that was very young and will have to go against J.J. Watt twice a year.
The Receivers Look Prepared
The Colts kept things pretty even on the coaching front, but one change they made was with a new wide receivers coach Sanjay Lal. Back in June T.Y. Hilton told IndyStar reporter Stephen Holder that Lal was doing a great job of pushing him.
“Coach Sanjay is doing a great job of just pushing me and working with my route running,” Hilton said. “And I’ve seen it get better. He’s more detailed than any coach I’ve ever had, and I like that.”
This is a sentiment that has been echoed by many of the other receivers, and the early results are good. They have looked well prepared and Matt Danely said they were running good routes as well as being more physical in blocking situations.
The Colts receivers have seemed like a talented group over the past several years, but that talent has not always reached its potential, and if Coach Lal is able to push them to reach it they could be a truly dangerous unit this season.
Andrew Luck Still Looks to Come Off PUP to Start the Regular Season
There is a lot of worry and buzz about how good or bad Luck’s shoulder is. Naturally, people will speculate every which way, but there are very good and solid reasons for hope that he will be back for the start of the regular season.
George Bremer of the Anderson Herald Bulletin had this to say:
For those asking, I'm told Chris Ballard's statement from last week stands. Luck expected to come off PUP before reg season begins. #Colts— George Bremer (@gmbremer) August 2, 2017
There is certainly the possibility that the Colts are providing us with misinformation. They have not always been forthright with us about Luck’s health. But the old saying, actions speak louder than words, applies best here. If the Colts thought there was a real chance that Luck would be missing a lot of time, they would be bringing in a veteran quarterback who could give them a chance to win without him. Because they have not done this, it is reasonable to believe that they are being honest when they say that the timeline has not changed.
If you feel like speculating otherwise will make you feel better you are more than welcome to do so, but as of now, it seems that things are just how they are being reported to us until we hear differently.
Marlon Mack Flashes
One of the guys who Colts fans were anxiously awaiting a chance to see was 4th round draft pick, Marlon Mack. The Colts backfield has been a point of nervousness as the seemingly ageless Frank Gore was noticeably slowed in his burst and speed last season. While he remained a productive back, it is unlikely the Colts should expect that to continue forever, and having Mack show signs that he is special was on every fans wish list.
Fortunately, Mack did not disappoint. Matt Danely said Mack was, “on another level” than the rest of the backs, had impressive cutting ability and quick direction change. All those traits were the ones we Colts fans got excited about when he was drafted, and if that home run type speed and big play ability translate to the regular season it would dramatically change the look of the Colts offense.
There will be a lot more information to see coming out in the next week as well as once preseason games begin, but for now, it is exciting to see the picture of what this team will look like as it begins to come together. Keep tuning in to our live camp updates as well as subscribing to the Colts Cast to get the most comprehensive updates on all the goings on.
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