INDIANAPOLIS – It will not have the same feel as a normal camp or preseason.
Players, who are reporting to Indianapolis for camp this week, won’t get on the field for actual practices for a couple of more weeks.
However, the goal remains the same—prepare a team for the season opener on September 13th and figure out who deserves to be the 53 guys on the roster.
What are the top storylines for the Colts during their 2020 training camp?
1. Acclimation of Philip Rivers
Philip Rivers has never thrown to a Colt in practice. He will enter the 2020 regular season having only worn a red jersey when throwing a pass as a Colt.
Yes, Rivers knows the offensive system in Indianapolis very well, but the personnel is still different.
How familiar Rivers can get with his wideouts, tight ends and running backs will be important.
Timing in practice still isn’t the exact same as games, as Rivers works with a completely different pass catching group for the first time in his career.
2. Michael Pittman, Jonathan Taylor Impacting
While there’s concern over how this offseason will hurt rookies looking to make early impacts, the Colts cannot afford to be patient with their first two picks.
Michael Pittman and Jonathan Taylor will be counted on from Day One.
For the Colts to get back into the postseason this year, it’s going to take contributions from Pittman and Taylor.
These two guys produced at a really high level in major collegiate conferences, so they should be better equipped than most to handle such an abbreviated offseason, yet still be counted on as rookies.
3. COVID Ramifications
Let’s be honest, this offseason doesn’t even come close to comparing to the 2011 lockout (when teams didn’t meet in the spring, but had a full training camp and preseason).
Teams will not put on full pads against an opposing team at all until the regular season starts. Not in a joint practice. Not in a preseason game.
Will we see rust in the quality of play during the regular season? Will this lead to more soft tissue injuries in camp and early in the regular season?
4. Couple Open Starting Jobs?
If you are looking at a 2020 depth chart for the Colts right now, you could probably point to 4 or 5 starting jobs to be decided.
-Is that starting MIKE linebacker job open?
-Who starts at corner opposite Kenny Moore?
-What about the starting defensive end position previously occupied by Jabaal Sheard?
-Will Jonathan Taylor push Marlon Mack for the lead back duties?
-Oh, yeah, who is the kicker?
Those are the main starting battles, which will come down to those practice reps and not have a whole lot of time for interchanging.
5. Defense Evolving
This was a storyline during last year’s camp.
The results? Very meh, as the Colts pass defense once again was shredded way too often.
Adding DeForest Buckner is a major move and should help out the entire unit.
Still, this storyline is more of a general scheme question. Does Year Three under Matt Eberflus lead to more sophistication from the defense?
From a pass defense standpoint, the Colts must get more creative after struggling in consecutive seasons.
6. What About The Other Rookies?
Often this time of year fans want to know about a sleeper rookie or two.
Answering that somewhat confidently is so difficult in 2020.
We know about Michael Pittman and Jonathan Taylor.
But the Colts didn’t have a ton of other ‘instant impact’ rookies back in April, and that is even truer with the lack of offseason work in-person to impress coaches.
Does this mean we see less rookies and undrafted free agents make the team/earn early roles?