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INDIANAPOLIS – All the questions the Colts face heading into their 2018 Training Camp will see answers develop in front of fans at Grand Park.
On Wednesday, July 25, the Colts will report to work in Westfield for three and a half weeks, with a joint practice session against the Baltimore Ravens concluding things on Saturday, Aug. 18.
After looking at the offense last week, it’s time for 1070TheFan.com to move on to the defense with our “Burning Questions” for all position groups heading into the 2018 Training Camp.
Here’s a look at the linebacker burning questions with Training Camp nearing:
-Will Darius Leonard win a starting job?
Of the critical 11-man draft class in 2018, Leonard was the only one not to get on the field this spring
Leonard is currently doing some on-field activity as he recovers from a lingering hamstring injury.
It’s vital that Leonard practices early in camp.
Yes, this defensive system isn’t supposed to be too complicated, but Leonard is still making a significant adjustment in his level of competition from college. He must get used to this speed and how quickly things are going to move in front of him.
As long as Leonard is getting starting reps by the second preseason game, he should still seize a starting job in 2018.
For the future of this defense, the Colts really need for Leonard to get back to full health and showcase the desired athletic traits that they really need.
STAT TO NOTE: Leonard had 53.0 tackles for loss, 21.5 sacks, 6 interceptions and 8 forced fumbles during his college career at South Carolina State.
-Is Anthony Walker the future at the MIKE linebacker position?
This fifth-round pick from last year could very well be the starting MIKE linebacker in 2018.
While how quickly Leonard gets up to speed will impact the other starting linebacker spots, Walker displayed some middle linebacker traits this spring.
He was the main defensive communicator in huddles during the offseason program.
The Colts don’t have many better options at middle linebacker, so Walker makes some sense.
Injuries hindered Walker last year to just 10 games of action (2 starts), so the sample size is still a bit small on what the Colts actually have in the youngster.
Another name to definitely keep an eye on in camp is Najee Goode.
A free agent addition earlier this spring, Goode started 3 games for the Eagles last year, and even slid into the starting lineup for the NFC Title game, too.
Goode (29 years old) and Walker were the most consistent starters this spring.
STAT TO NOTE: Anthony Walker was a three-time captain during his days at Northwestern University.
-What is the 2018 role for Antonio Morrison?
Based off how the Colts ended the spring, Antonio Morrison is no longer a starter.
If that continues to be the case, Morrison will be fighting just to keep a roster spot in 2018.
Because Morrison plays the SAM position, which is only expected to get 15-20 snaps per game, so a backup at that position isn’t valued too much.
Plus, the Colts have said they really need versatile linebackers capable of playing a couple of spots. That doesn’t appear to be the case for Morrison in this new system.
It’s weird to think a position that lacks hardly any proven talent would cut a player with 19 career starts, but Morrison just isn’t a great fit.
Instead of Morrison at SAM linebacker this spring, the Colts turned to Tyrell Adams late in OTAs and minicamp.
Adams has played in just 12 games since coming into the NFL in 2015, so the upgrade there isn’t on paper.
We will see if Morrison can get back into the mix, or if his roster spot is truly in jeopardy this year.
STAT TO NOTE: Of the 10 linebackers on the roster, Antonio Morrison makes up for 19 of the 27 total starts.