Around the NFL  

 

Training camp preview: Are Colts primed for big year?

Print

Training camp is quickly approaching, which means it's time to preview the most exciting part of the summer. Over the next month, Around The NFL's Conor Orr will break down all 32 teams and give us something to look for in late July.

Today, we take a look at the Indianapolis Colts. Click on the tabs above to see previews for the rest of the AFC South. For the rest of the NFL, click here.

Camp report date: July 26.

Camp location: Anderson University, Anderson, Ind.

Offseason in a nutshell: Sometimes a team can get better simply by eliminating the clutter. Indianapolis began last season with a tremendous weight on its shoulders -- most of which dumped onto the back of quarterback Andrew Luck. The 'dream team' offense, loaded with young stars and big-play veterans, was primed to break records but could not protect its quarterback. The defense, a brainchild of its head coach, faltered due to injuries and a lack of stable core talent. This year has a different feel. Luck is supposedly healthy, Andre Johnson is gone and the Colts settled on a choice for offensive coordinator -- Rob Chudzinski -- who always seemed to make more sense for this offense in the first place. We must be careful: After pegging Indianapolis as a shoo-in for the Super Bowl this year, some of us are just as quick to label them the no-doubt comeback of the year front runner. There is good reason to believe this is a safe bet, but what if it isn't?

Player to watch in camp: Quarterback Andrew Luck: We have heard the words "practicing fully" and "without limitation" to describe Luck this offseason, but those phrases can still be blurry from time to time. What, exactly, can Luck do? Is there really no discomfort after missing half a season with a lacerated kidney? If so, is Luck still forcing passes after the routes have peaked? Has he developed a smoother and quicker draw on his open-field slide? The NFL's richest player will be analyzed to death this offseason and for good reason. He could take this team to a Super Bowl.

THREE BURNING QUESTIONS:

1. Is our curiosity in Josh Ferguson warranted?

As the great Stephen Holder pointed out this offseason, the Colts drained the well to pay for rookie running back Josh Ferguson as an undrafted free agent. His $35,000 in guarantees were pretty significant given the minute pool of cash teams have to lure players that weren't drafted. Per Holder, the Colts had a fourth-round grade on the running back. Picturing Luck with a shifty, catch-first third-down back gives fantasy nuts the chills and defensive coordinators headaches. So often we get caught up in the hype of undrafted free agents who flash during the spring where athleticism is picked up on above-game intelligence and knowledge of the playbook. But with Ferguson, we're allowing ourselves to dream a bit. This offense could be fun to watch with a blazing counterpart to Frank Gore.

2. Is the Colts' offensive line a bully in training?

From center to left tackle, the team has three first or second-round picks. While that might not mean much, the Colts overhauled parts of their offensive coaching staff this offseason in an effort to get more out of players who should have been playing better. Enter former Dolphins head coach Joe Philbin, who has been one of the better offensive line position coaches in the country for the past 20 years before moving up the ladder into coordinator and head coaching roles. This job is the potential springboard for Philbin to jump back into the higher rungs of NFL coaching, and the talent is there to make it an easy transition.

3. Where are we headed with Phillip Dorsett?

Last year's first-round pick was set to be the final piece of Indy's puzzle last season -- an underneath and over-the-top speed threat who could clear out a defensive backfield with ease. That didn't happen, though not much did as a confused Colts offense muddled its way through an 8-8 season. Early indications out of camp are that Dorsett will settle in as a modified Tavon Austin-type. Despite the mound of hype-train pieces proclaiming that this is his comeback year, there is a higher likelihood that he'll be sprinkled into the offense and used more organically. The best part about camp is that we should get to see all of those possibilities, even the ones that will be left on the cutting room floor.

Way-too-early season prediction: 9-7 with a one-game margin of error. This is a tougher Colts team but is it a better Colts team defensively?

Print

Fan Discussion