Indianapolis Colts 2013 Training Camp Preview
Indianapolis Colts 2013 Training Camp Preview
The Indianapolis Colts made incredible work of the 2012 season. When a team goes from 2-14 to 11-5 it typically requires a sublime upgrade in quarterback play, and that's exactly what the Colts got with Andrew Luck.
Even with Bruce Arians scheming long drop-backs for a rookie quarterback behind a miserable offensive line, the Colts displayed an incredible resolve in close games for a young team. Luck took a beating — far more hits than any other quarterback in the league — but stood tall enough to deliver Indy its first playoff birth since Peyton Manning. One season after Manning. So, impressive.
A year that's already making its case for the greatest rookie quarterback introduction swept Luck up in the midst. Robert Griffin III won NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year in 2012, while Russell Wilson went further into the postseason than any in the rookie class. Debates can be made for either of the three coming out on top, but Luck's orientation involved blatant disregard for any sort of gradual, steady, cautious development. Whether that benefits Luck or not, time will tell
Regardless, the roster around him will play a major factor, and the position battles in Colts training camp will shape Luck's second act.
The aforementioned second-year quarterback takes over the starting duties and has the benefit of new offensive coordinator Pep Hamilton, who ran the offense at Stanford and favors the type of west-coast offense and two-tight end sets that Luck should benefit from. Matt Hasselbeck provided a cerebral veteran addition that should aid Luck's development.
The Colts suddenly find themselves with three multi-dimensional backs on roster, adding ex-Big Blue back Ahmad Bradshaw to a stable that already included second-year man Vick Ballard and vet Donald Brown. Bradshaw is by far the best pass-protector of the three, which could certainly come in handy for the often-hassled Luck.
Wide Receiver/Tight End
The No. 2 and 3 wide receiver spots behind Reggie Wayne are completely up for grabs, with free agent Darrius Heyward-Bey and speedster TY Hilton battling for reps. LaVon Brazill also showed some things last year in WR-heavy sets. Hamilton's affinity for two-tight end sets should be a boon for second-rounder Coby Fleener, who was overshadowed by third-round rookie Dwayne Allen last year.
Indy's offensive line should be massively improved over last year, with first-round right tackle Anthony Castonzo entering his third season and Gosder Cherilus signed to man the right edge. The interior line was blown up with regularity in 2012, and efforts were made to improve it by signing Donald Thomas and drafting Hugh Thornton. They vie against Jeff Linkenbach and Mike McGlynn for starting roles at guard. Samson Satele seems set for the center gig. The shorter drop-backs should help everyone.
Aubrayo Franklin has put together a couple excellent years at nose tackle in the past and looks to regain form with a new squad. He'll challenge Josh Chapman and Brandon McKinney to fill the middle of this 3-4/4-3 hybrid-ish base. Ricky Jean-Francois and Cory Redding are locked in, barring anything unforeseen, for the bulk of snaps at end. The Colts took a flyer on Montori Hughes in the hopes of his talent serving them up front.
Indy invested their first overall pick on Bjoern Werner but he must hold off free-agent signing Erik Walden, a player who was graded worse than any starting outside linebacker last season by Pro Football Focus. Jerrell Freeman took advantage snaps after Pat Angerer's injury, and now Angerer must reclaim the other inside backer role with competition from Kelvim Sheppard, acquired in the Jerry Hughes trade this offseason.
The Colts threw a bunch of money at LaRon Landry after his Pro Bowl season, though him getting a Pro Bowl nod has been deemed by many as further evidence of the Pro Bowl being a sham. Antoine Bethea should man the other safety spot. Indy has a nice quarter of corners that possesses no stars, however, in Vontae Davis, Greg Toler, Cassius Vaughn and Darius Butler.
It's decently safe to project the key starters on special teams as kicker Adam Vinatieri, punter Pat McAfee, kick returner Cassius Vaughn and punt returner Hilton. The dark horse is kicker Brandon McManus.
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