5 Players Who Will Shine For the Indianapolis Colts in Week 1
5 Colts Players Who Will Shine in Week 1
The Indianapolis Colts will open their 2013 season at home against the Oakland Raiders in what appears, on paper, to be an easy victory. But to get to that victory, the Colts will need their core group of starters to each have a big game.
On the offensive side of the ball, the Colts should easily make the Raiders' defense look just as bad as it did last season. The Raiders’ defense ranked 20th in passing, 18th in rushing, and 18th in overall yards allowed per game last year. While the Colts' rushing game is still the low-point of their offense, they have made strides to up their 2012 average of 104.4 yards per game and their passing game will continue to thrive just as it has for the past 15 years, minus 2011 when Curtis Painter was under center.
The Colts' defense will miss having Dwight Freeney terrorizing the opposing offense, but they still have enough talent to keep the Raiders out of the end zone. Adding LaRon Landry to the backfield should help the passing defense that ranked 21st, and having an additional offseason to work on their transition to the 3-4 defense should help raise their 29th ranked rushing defense.
But as I stated in the beginning, it’s going to be those core starters, on both sides of the ball, who will determine whether the Colts begin their season on a high note or not. Let’s take a look at the five players who will shine in Week 1.
Andrew Luck averaged 273.4 yards per game last season and should have no problem hitting that mark against the Oakland Raiders. Look for Luck to come out strong in his sophomore season opener because if he doesn't then the Colts will struggle mightily.
If Andrew Luck is going to have a big game, then Reggie Wayne will need to be on the receiving end of most of those 273 passing yards. Wayne was Luck's number one receiver last season and will be again this year. He will likely be covered by Oakland's Charles Woodson, but Wayne has proven over his career that it doesn't matter who covers him; he is going to catch the ball one way or another.
Robert Mathis is the leader of the Colts defense and he will need to bring his A-game to make sure Darren McFadden stays out of the end zone. He finished with eight sacks last season which was his first year at linebacker. Now he should be more comfortable at the position and his sack total should rise, starting with whichever quarterback the Oakland Raiders decide to use.
Pat Angerer went from leading the Colts with 148 total tackles in 2011, to missing five games and recording 28 combined tackles in 2012. There were some fans and media who thought Angerer would be cut during the Colts 2013 preseason, but he made the team and will be a starting linebacker. He will need to help Mathis and the rest of the defense keep Darren McFadden from running all over the field like opposing running backs have the tendency to do. Look for Angerer to have a game more reminiscent of 2011 than 2012.
Vick Ballard became the Colts' starting running back last year as he proved to be the only back on the roster who could gain any yards. He finished the season with 814 yards but only two touchdowns. The Colts signed free agent Ahmad Bradshaw in the offseason and expect him to be the starter against the Oakland Raiders. Losing the starting position, despite having a solid rookie season, should give Ballard the motivation to run all over the Raiders and help win back his starting spot.