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INDIANAPOLISRemember those position battles we looked at last week?

 

It’s time to update those, after the Colts are a fourth of the way done with their time at Grand Park.

 

The Colts still have 7 practices, over the next 9 days, before heading to Buffalo for their preseason opener a week from Thursday.  

 

After 4 practices, 2 in full pads, here’s an update on some of the position battles for the Colts in 2019:

Starting MIKE Linebacker

 

So far, the incumbent in Antony Walker is still ahead of Bobby Okereke as the full-time starter at MIKE linebacker.

 

And that appears to include all three downs of Walker being on the field. Entering camp there was definite chatter of Okereke possibly helping out on passing downs.

 

But the duo of Walker and Darius Leonard has been together, while we’ve seen much more interchanging along the defensive line and in the secondary. Even when the Colts have done 7-on-7 drills (lending towards more passing down packages), which would seem to favor Okereke’s skillset), it’s been Walker at linebacker with Leonard.

 

“Anthony has done a great job,” Matt Eberflus said over the weekend. “I think Anthony Walker is a consummate pro. He’s also a leader for us. He does a great job in leadership in terms of teaching the other guys, showing them how, telling them why. We couldn’t ask anything more to Anthony Walker in terms of his effort and his execution.”

Nickel Package

 

It’s been mostly Quincy Wilson as the 5th defensive back and 3rd corner used in the nickel package for the Colts.

 

And rookie Rock Ya-Sin has mainly been running with the second wave of corners.

 

Now, the Colts have not shied away from rotating a lot of corners into the ‘starting’ unit, including Nate Hairston and Jalen Collins. Hairston is a name worth watching. He brings slot and outside flexibility, which is a big luxury in making himsellf valuable as a corner down on the depth chart.

 

But, when the Colts have gone to their nickel group, a trio of Kenny Moore, Pierre Desir and Quincy Wilson has been the most frequent grouping.

 

Eberflus is pleased with what Ya-Sin has shown so far, including two interceptions on Sunday, but the staff also likes the growth they’ve seen from Wilson.

 

“Quincy has done a really good job with his conditioning,” Eberflus said on Saturday. “He’s changed his body considerably in terms of his lean mass and his body fat and he’s looking the best he’s looked. He’s done a nice job so far this spring and he’s competing his tail off this fall.”

 

Third Down Pass Rushing Group

 

This has been a tough one to pin down so far.

 

When healthy, the starting defensive line has looked like this: DE-Jabaal Sheard, DT-Denico Autry, DT-Margus Hunt, DE-Justin Houston, with DE-Al-Quadin Muhammad subbing in for the injured Sheard, who got hurt on the first practice of camp.

 

Autry and Houston continue to be disruptive and are going to be on the field come third down. The other spots remain up for grabs.

 

Tyquan Lewis and Jihad Ward in the interior have been in some various rush packages.

 

On the edge, we’ve seen moments from young rushers in Kemoko Turay (he’s missed the last two practices in full pads though with a shoulder injury) and Ben Banogu.

 

This is a very fluid group heading into the second week at Grand Park.

 

Wide Receiver Playing Time

 

We know Parris Campbell stole the headlines on Sunday, but it’s still Chester Rogers as the very early lead guy in the slot.

 

Campbell, who missed Sunday’s team work with a hamstring issue, hasn’t made much of an impact in 11-on-11 drills yet. So it’s been Rogers, T.Y. Hilton and Devin Funchess comprising the early three receiver group.

 

Zach Pascal, Marcus Johnson and Campbell appear to be next up.

 

Deon Cain has been in team work for just two days, so it’s hard to judge where he is exactly on the depth chart.

 

“It’s going to be a hard group to make cuts on, that’s all I know,” Frank Reich said of the receivers on Saturday.

 

Backup Left Tackle

 

This is also a tough one to decipher just yet.

 

When Anthony Castonzo has practiced (3 of the 4 days), Antonio Garcia has been the second-string left tackle.

 

But when Castonzo was resting on Saturday, Le’Raven Clark became the ‘starting’ left tackle.

 

Remember, Garcia is suspended for the first four games of the 2019 regular season. The Colts see potential though in the former third-round pick.

 

“Tony’s a real good player,” Castonzo says of his fellow tackle. “And he’s obsessed with getting better. He’s always asking questions and working on his game. Everything he does is really impressive. I think he’s going to have a nice, long career.”