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INDIANAPOLISIt’s time to update the Colts position battles as they hit their first off day following three straight days in full pads.

The Colts will still have two more weeks of full-padded work, but we are getting closer to roster cuts (September 5th) and the season opener (September 13th).

After three days in full pads, here’s an update on the key position battles:

 

Marlon Mack vs. Jonathan Taylor

We know the Colts are going to rotate these two in some capacity this season.

And we know that Mack is going to be the Week One starter.

So far, Mack continues to get the vast majority of first-team reps. That’s no surprise this early in camp.

Taylor had an eye-popping Tuesday practice, ripping off several big runs—including a couple with the first unit—which is the exact reason why the Colts traded up for the Wisconsin running back.

Something we’ve seen from the entire running back group this camp is Philip Rivers finding all of them out of the backfield, including Mack and Taylor, with Nyheim Hines still the expected option on third down.

 

Anthony Walker vs. Bobby Okereke

It’s early, but Walker remains the definite starter, and that includes in nickel personnel, too.

Sure, the Colts have had Okereke on the field with the starters occasionally, especially in base, but Walker and Darius Leonard continue to be the lead duo at linebacker.

If we see this trend continue in the next segment of practice days, I think it’ll be safe to expect Walker to maintain his starting MIKE position.

We know the Colts are high on Okereke’s future, but the reliability of Walker punching his card day in and day out remains too consistent to supplant.

 

Starting Defensive End

Let’s first mention the Colts have 3 of their 4 defensive line spots entrenched.

Back in the spring, new defensive line coach Brian Baker said he had two open starting spots up front.

Well, I’m going to go ahead and write Grover Stewart in as a Week One starter with DeForest Buckner and Justin Houston also up front.

It’s the other defensive end spot which remains a bit of a mystery.

A neck injury that sidelined Houston for 2 of the 3 full-padded days last week opened up some more defensive end reps.

Those have gone to Denico Autry and Al-Quadin Muhammad, as Kemoko Turay (ankle) continues to rehab, Ben Banogu sees action with the second team and Tyquan Lewis plays mostly in the interior of the defensive line.

I don’t expect Turay to start (he can still be an effective pressure player on third down), so I think this is an Autry/Muhammad starting battle. For now, I’ll go with the veteran in Autry, knowing that bodies will rotate a lot.

 

Rock Ya-Sin vs. Xavier Rhodes

This has been a really tough one to gauge.

Without Kenny Moore for 2 and a half of the 3 practices, and with Rhodes missing Tuesday’s practice, the Colts have had to shuffle in a variety of cornerbacks.

Ya-Sin has been there every day, so I might give him the slight edge to be a starter in the base defense, opposite Moore.

Obviously, Rhodes is going to play a ton when the Colts turn to three cornerbacks in the nickel personnel package. Rhodes has started every single game he’s played in since 2014 (94 straight games).

 

A New Kicker

We’ve only seen one day of Chase McLaughlin and Rodrigo Blankenship kick in full pads.

Both performed really well.

McLaughlin was a perfect 7-of-7, with makes from 47, 49 and 52 yards. Blankenship was 6-of-7, knocking one off the right upright.

I do think the fact that McLaughlin kicked in the NFL last season really helps his cause in this battle.

“I think Chase is a pretty cool customer,” Reich says when asked about the style of the two young kickers. “I think that the two of them are really different styles. I’ve been around both styles of kickers. I think Chase is a little bit more – I don’t know what the right word for it is – not as regimented about certain things. More of a, ‘Hey just put it anywhere. I’m good. I can make it.’ Kicked with a guy, Steve Christie, who was a real good kicker in Buffalo. I held for him. He was kind of like that. Then on the other hand, I think Rod is very regimented, disciplined about his approach – very technical in every little thing. That’s good too. They’re both unique styles. I think they’re different. I’ve been around guys like that as well. They’ve both done well in the kicking competition and plenty of more of that to come here in the next couple weeks.”

 

Wide Receiver Depth Chart

Like we mentioned before camp, this is more of a question on who will round out the wide receiver group?

T.Y. Hilton, Parris Campbell, Michael Pittman and Zach Pascal are locks to make the team.

How about a WR No. 5 or a WR No. 6?

An injury to Marcus Johnson isn’t helping his cause right now.

Reece Fountain and Chad Williams have had some early moments. Ashton Dulin is in the mix thanks to his special teams prowess. Rookie Dezmon Patmon hasn’t made an overwhelming impression yet.

This is a tough one to predict just yet.