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NFL Indianapolis Colts

Predicting the Indianapolis Colts’ Starters of 2014

Predicting the Indianapolis Colts' Starters of 2014

T.Y. Hilton Colts
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Despite making the playoffs the past two seasons and reaching the divisional round of the playoffs last season, Indianapolis has been an outside Super Bowl contender at best with issues on both sides of the ball.

After a solid draft and some key free-agent signings, the Colts are ready to contend for a Super Bowl. There is much to decide before the Colts play in Week 1, but here is my projection for the Colts' starting lineup in 2014.

QB: Andrew Luck

Andrew Luck Colts
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QB: Andrew Luck

Andrew Luck Colts
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There are no questions here as Andrew Luck is the clear starter. Luck has some turnover issues he needs to fix, but is the clear face of the franchise. Matt Hasselbeck will once again be Luck's backup.

RB: Trent Richardson

Trent Richardson Colts
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RB: Trent Richardson

Trent Richardson Colts
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Despite a disappointing season, Trent Richardson will be the starter in 2014. Backing up Richardson will be Ahmad Bradshaw and Vick Ballard. Both are looking to bounce back after suffering season-ending injuries last season. Stanley Havili will be the fullback in traditional formations.

WR: Reggie Wayne, Hakeem Nicks and T.Y. Hilton

Reggie Wayne Colts
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WR: Reggie Wayne, Hakeem Nicks and T.Y. Hilton

Reggie Wayne Colts
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The Colts have a great receiving corps now that T.Y. Hilton is joined by free-agent signing Hakeem Nicks and the returning Reggie Wayne. All three will be starters this season as the Colts move to a three-wide set. Other receivers like Da'Rick Rodgers, Griff Whalen, Lavon Brazill and rookie Donte Moncrief will provide excellent depth for the Colts.

TE: Dwayne Allen

Dwayne Allen Colts
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TE: Dwayne Allen

Dwayne Allen Colts
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Allen is back this season after injuries derailed most of his 2013 season. Joining Allen in the Colts' two-tight end sets will be Coby Fleener. The latter gained valuable experience last year with Allen out. The third tight end will be either Weslye Saunders or Jack Doyle.

OT: Anthony Castonzo, Gosder Cherilus

Anthony Castonzo
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OT: Anthony Castonzo (LT) and Gosder Cherilus (RT)

Anthony Castonzo Colts
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Even after the Colts used their first draft pick on OT Jack Mewhort, both Anthony Castonzo and Gosder Cherilus will return as starters in 2014. Castonzo has been just an average tackle at best since being drafted in 2011 while Cherilus has had his struggles. Xavier Nixon and Jack Breckner are the Colts' top backups with Mewhort being an alternate at both tackle and guard.

OG: Hugh Thornton and Donald Thomas

Hugh Thornton Colts
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G: Donald Thomas (LG) and Hugh Thornton (RG)

Hugh Thornton Colts
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Without Donald Thomas, who was lost for most of the season last year, the Colts' guards struggled to protect Luck and failed to open any holes for Richardson. Thomas is back this year and will be the starter at left guard, with second-year player Hugh Thornton starting at right guard. If Thornton struggles, expect either veteran journeyman Lance Louis or Mewhort to take his place in the lineup.

C: Khaled Holmes

Khaled Holmes Colts
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C: Khaled Holmes

Khaled Holmes Colts
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After not retaining C Samson Satele this year, the Colts will now be relying on a young center in Khaled Holmes to not only protect Andrew Luck, but to handle all of the offensive line calls. Holmes only had 13 snaps last season, and his leash could be shorter than it should be. If Holmes falters, don't be surprised if undrafted free agent Jonotthan Harrison sees some time.

DE: Cory Redding and Arthur Jones

Cory Redding Colts
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DE: Cory Redding (LDE) and Arthur Jones (RDE)

Cory Redding Colts
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Two former Baltimore Ravens will anchor the defensive line for the Colts. Starting one the left side will be Cory Redding, with free agent Arthur Jones starting on the right side. Their backups will be Ricky Jean-Francois and Fili Moala.

NT: Josh Chapman

Josh Chapman Colts
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NT: Josh Chapman

Josh Chapman Colts
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This season, the Colts will rely on youngster Josh Chapman to anchor the middle of their 3-4 defense. Chapman has had limited experience so far, but he is the only true nose tackle on the roster. Undrafted free agent Zach Kerr will be backing up Chapman, and in certain game situations, Jean-Francois can slide in at nose tackle.

OLB: Erik Walden and Bjoern Werner* (Robert Mathis after his suspension)

Robert Mathis Colts
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OLB: Erik Walden and Bjoern Werner* (Robert Mathis after his suspension)

Robert Mathis Colts
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The Colts will be without Robert Mathis for the first four games of the season due to a suspension, so the starters will be Erik Walden and Bjoern Werner. Walden was a disappointment last year as a free agent, and Werner barely cracked the rotation last year. Once Mathis returns, expect Werner to be back on the bench.

ILB: D'Qwell Jackson and Jerrell Freeman

D'Qwell Jackson Browns
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ILB: D'Qwell Jackson and Jerrell Freeman

D'Qwell Jackson Browns
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Now that the Colts added D'Qwell Jackson this offseason to team with Jerrell Freeman, the Colts have one of the most exciting linebacking tandems in football. Freeman is a rising star, while Jackson is the veteran presence the Colts have lacked the past two seasons. Backing up these two will be sixth-round pick Andrew Jackson and Kelvin Sheppard.

CB: Vontae Davis and Greg Toler

Vontae Davis Colts
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CB: Vontae Davis and Greg Toler

Vontae Davis Colts
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Outside of Vontae Davis, the Colts have major concerns in terms of pass coverage on the outside. While Greg Toler will get the starting nod, his play has dropped off after signing with Indianapolis last season. The slot corner will once again be Darius Butler, but don't be surprised at all if former Florida Gators' standout and undrafted free agent Loucheiz Purifoy cracks the rotation at some point this season.

FS: LaRon Landry

LaRon Landry Colts
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FS: LaRon Landry

LaRon Landry Colts
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LaRon Landry is the clear starter at free safety, and is the only safety on the Colts' roster who has proven starting experience. Backing him up will be Delano Howell and Colt Anderson, a free-agent acquisition from Philadelphia.

SS: Sergio Brown

Sergio Brown Colts
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SS: Sergio Brown

Sergio Brown Colts
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The Colts lost long-time safety Antoine Bethea to the 49ers in free agency, and are relying on Sergio Brown to take his place. Brown will start, with Corey Lynch backing him up. Don't be surprised if the Colts find a proven veteran safety before the season begins.

Special Teams

Adam Vinatieri Colts
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Special Teams

Adam Vinatieri Colts
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Rounding out the Colts' starters are special teamers like Adam Vinatieri, Pat McAfee and Matt Overton. Vinatieri will once again be the kicker, McAfee will be the starting punter and Overton will be the Colts' long snapper. Returning kickoffs will be Whalen with Hilton as the primary punt returner.