INDIANAPOLIS – It’s time to move out of Grand Park
After 20 practices, with 18 outside and in front of fans, the Colts are moving back to their facility on the west side of Indianapolis.
That wraps up nearly a month of training camp in Westfield.
With one more preseason game waiting on Friday, the Colts roster sits at 80 players and will be cut down to 53 by Tuesday’s deadline.
At the start of camp, we asked 53 questions about the Colts entering training camp.
Let’s now answer them:
1. How much will Carson Wentz play in the preseason? Well, so much for that. Wentz got hurt in the third team period of the second day of camp, ending his on-field team work in Grand Park after 23 passes in team drills. Wentz’s need for foot surgery ended any chance of him playing in the preseason.
2. Will Kemoko Turay be healthy enough to show off his burst off the edge? Turay had a healthy start to camp and showed the burst we’ve seen out of him. A shoulder injury last week kept him off the field against Minnesota, but he has returned to practice this week. What stood out about Turay’s start to camp, outside of his availability, was the fact that several of his impressive rushes came against Braden Smith.
3. Will Michael Pittman be the team’s No. 1 wideout? It was hard to tell how exactly the wide receiver reps will be distributed in 2021. A lot of that had to do with the growing pains in the passing game. Pittman was healthy in camp and showed off his strong skillset.
4. Is Marlon Mack back to the runner we saw in the 2020 season opener? Mack looked ok in camp and had no off days due to his Achilles rehab. It’s still hard to gauge what the role will look like for Mack, but his health is in good order. It wouldn’t surprise me if Jordan Wilkins was ahead of Mack on the depth chart to start the season.
5. Will Jacob Eason win the backup job? Um, we still don’t know this answer. In Vegas, the odds would be strong that Eason is either the Week 1 starter or backup. But that’s not a slam dunk just yet. Putting a possible return of Wentz to the side, the Colts have still not committed to Eason ahead of Sam Ehlinger. Still, the assumption is Eason will have this backup role in 2021.
6. Will Kylen Granson carve out a consistent rookie role? Rookie tight ends don’t often impact. But Granson had a nice camp and saw a good amount of first-team run, especially with Mo Alie-Cox (knee) and Jack Doyle (veteran rest) missing various time. Granson is going to have an early rookie role.
7. Does anyone need to step up in the leadership department? I’m going to go with two under the radar leader names after seeing camp. How about Jonathan Taylor and Bobby Okereke? Yes, both guys are on rookie contracts, but both suited up for every practice at Grand Park and were standouts on their respective sides of the ball.
8. Is Jonathan Taylor looking at 20 carries per game, all season long? He should, and nothing we saw in Westfield leads me to believe otherwise. Taylor is one of the best running backs in the league.
9. Who will be the team’s placekicker? Hot Rod. The Colts wisely brought in competition for the second-year kicker and Rodrigo Blankenship did nothing to lose his job against Eddy Pineiro, with both kickers astonishingly making every single kick in front of the media.
10. Does Ben Banogu make the team? Banogu entered Grand Park as the most high-profile Colt with his roster spot in jeopardy. He did a very good job in quieting that chatter. The defensive line room is crowded, but Banogu should make the 53-man roster.
11. Will we see noticeable foundational changes in Carson Wentz’s throwing motion? Yeah, we didn’t get this answer. Not with Wentz throwing just 24 passes in team periods during his 2 early practices. This will be something to watch when he does return to 11-on-11 work. Wentz did throw 91 passes in three straight days of 7-on-7 work to close camp. That’s impressive.
12. Will Sam Ehlinger earn a playing role on game days? Well, this answer changed pretty early in camp. Now, Ehlinger actually playing in a game is still not a slam dunk. But he did a lot to impress the coaching staff as not just a ‘gimmick package,’ rather him as a quarterback who could actually play in a normal game setting.
13. Who will be the team’s 3rd cornerback? This might still be up in the air, but I’m going with Rock Ya-Sin. Ya-Sin started camp as that third cornerback but when T.J. Carrie returned, the two shared a lot of those nickel personnel duties. Carrie is a guy the staff feels comfortable using at three spots (outside corner, slot corner and safety), but he got hurt in the preseason opener and has yet to return.
14. Do we see more dime package looks from Matt Eberflus? I didn’t see a ton of this during camp, but I still think it’s something to explore. I get the appeal of wanting 2 linebackers and 4 defensive linemen on the field, but in today’s NFL a 6-defensive back package is something to have in your back pocket.
15. Will the lack of proven pass rushers alter the Colts’ pass rushing plan? We knew this entering camp: outside of DeForest Buckner, the 9.5 career sacks for Kemoko Turay and Isaac Rochell are the most on the roster. Well, we’ve seen a good amount of blitzing this camp, but we also saw some strong individual rushing, led by rookie Kwity Paye. Will that translate against other starting offensive lines?
16. How will T.Y. Hilton’s game change with Carson Wentz’s arrival? Sadly, the Wentz/Hilton combination didn’t even get two practices of work in. Hilton’s usage with Jacob Eason and Sam Ehlinger was pretty quiet. I still see Hilton contributing big plays in big moments, while not being a major reception guy.
17. Over/under 2.5 fights during the joint practices with the Panthers? Thankfully, this was under. Sure you had some scuffles/quarrels, but the Colts and Panthers were still able to get some solid work done. Former Panthers great Steve Smith was in Westfield for the joint practices and thought the Colts were the more physical team.
18. Does Jordan Wilkins make the roster? I think so. Honestly, you could make the argument that Wilkins has looked better than Marlon Mack in camp. Wilkins is such a nice insurance policy, and can still be on the team contributing weekly via special teams.
19. Is Bobby Okereke primed for a jump in Year Three? If you are making a list the ‘best players’ from Colts camp, Okereke is on that short list. Okereke is one of the few Colts starters to participate at every practice of camp. He found the ball a whole lot, while also taking on the full MIKE duties that Anthony Walker previously occupied.
20. Will an undrafted free agent make the 53-man roster? I don’t see it. This was a longshot entering camp, too. But it should be noted that wideouts Tyler Vaughns and Tarik Black both had strong camps. Still, where do you fit an undrafted free agent on the Week 1 roster?
21. Will Sam Tevi be the left tackle until Eric Fisher returns? I don’t think so. Tevi got a whole lot of early run at left tackle with the starters, but lately it’s been Julie’n Davenport over there. Davenport is the definite leader exiting Grand Park. No matter the answer to this, the Colts really need Eric Fisher back ASAP.
22. Is there a position the Colts will dip into free agency to find another body? Left tackle would be atop this list. Honestly, giving up a late Day 3 pick for a LT wouldn’t be the craziest thought in the world. Outside of that, cornerback/safety are the other spots I’d be looking into.
23. Does Eric Fisher open the season on the PUP list? My gut continues to say ‘no.’ Now, you could elevate Fisher to the 53-man roster, and then place him on injured reserve the following day, where he would miss at least three weeks. Fisher looks like a guy who could be returning before the six-week minimum absence that would come if he stayed on PUP.
24. Who will replace Anthony Walker? Bobby Okereke suited up for every single practice at Grand Park. He had a really strong camp, particularly in the playmaking department early on. Zaire Franklin is another guy who should factor into some play time, and definitely help in the leadership category.
25. Is Dayo Odeyingbo a lock to be on the PUP list to start his rookie season? Unlike with what we’ve seen from Eric Fisher, Odeyingbo’s rehab work didn’t happen in front of fans/media during practice. Does this mean he’s a little further behind and heading for PUP? Frank Reich shared this on the 2nd round pick earlier in the week.
26. Is there a sleeper that makes the 53-man roster? One of my pre-camp sleepers, DT-Andrew Brown, has shown up as a possible 53-man roster addition. The other name I’d throw on the list is versatile defensive back Andre Chachere.
27. Will Kwity Paye lock up a starting job? Yes. Paye started and finished camp as a definite starter as the team’s right defensive end. This isn’t something you always see from 1st round rookie rushers. But Paye brings a body type and skillset that should keep him being effective on all three downs.
28. Do we see more two running back personnel groupings this season? I think it’s something we will see more of in 2021. When you have as deep and diverse of a running back room as the Colts, you would be wise to have such a personnel package in the game plan at various times.
29. How prevalent will RPOs be with Carson Wentz now under center? Even though Wentz practiced 11-on-11 for just two days at Grand Park, you still saw this part of the offense being incorporated. Wentz showed an ability of making plays with his legs and that has to be tapped into.
30. Will Mo Alie-Cox prove to be a three-down tight end? It was kind of a quiet camp for Alie-Cox, especially with him missing some time due to a knee injury. Alie-Cox was such a standout for this team early last season. It’s an important year for him to prove that he’s a definite foundational piece moving forward.
31. How many contract extensions will be handed out? Two. So far. And that’s probably it, honestly. The Colts wisely extended Darius Leonard and Braden Smith during training camp. Next up on the extension list are Nyheim Hines and Quenton Nelson, but the urgency isn’t there as much as the other two.
32. Will any of the opt-out players from 2020 make a big impact in 2021? Not really. Safety Rolan Miligan got cut early in camp. Linebacker Skai Moore was hurt and ended up being waived/injured. Cornerback Marvell Tell is fighting just to make the team.
33. Will Xavier Rhodes shadow any opposing wideouts in 2021? It was hard to get an idea of this during camp. But Rhodes in 1-on-1 situations can more than hold his own. That’s something we saw in the joint practices against the Panthers, when Rhodes won often against D.J. Moore and Robby Anderson.
34. Will the Colts avoid that ugly training camp injury? Um, I guess? Yes, the first week of camp injuries to Carson Wentz and Quenton Nelson were less than ideal. But it’s not like they were season-ending, or even a chunk of the regular season. The Colts made it through 20 practices of camp without losing a key piece for a substantial part of the year. That’s a win.
35. How many draft picks will make the 53-man roster? The Colts made 7 selections in 2021: DE-Kwity Paye, DL-Dayo Odeyingbo, TE-Kylen Granson, S-Shawn Davis, QB-Sam Ehlinger, WR-Mike Strachan, OL-Will Fries. I count 2 locks: Kwity Paye and Kylen Granson. I think Sam Ehlinger and Mike Strachan have good shots to make it, too. Dayo Odeyingbo is likely to stay on the PUP list. Shawn Davis and Will Fries are more in the uncertain category. Would the Colts really cut a 5th round pick in Davis? I don’t think so.
36. Does the arrival of Carson Wentz mean the Colts will not be as quick rhythm of a passing offense this year? Again, with the lack of practice time for Carson Wentz this camp, it is nearly impossible to draw some real conclusions from this. With Philip Rivers, the Colts had a constant theme of being quick rhythm with their passing game. That’s not as likely with Carson Wentz. How will that alter the pass protection and general flow of the offense?
37. Will Darius Leonard be more vocal with Anthony Walker’s absence? Leonard was up to his normal chipper self throughout camp. The fourth-year linebacker has said he needs to take on more vocal accountability with Walker no longer here. That is part of what the Colts want out of Leonard with his second contract here.
38. Do we see any additional wrinkles to the offense with Marcus Brady now at offensive coordinator? We didn’t see any massive differences from the Colts offense this camp and that was to be expected. I still think you could see some pre-snap motion stuff and quick hitting action to go with Frank Reich’s base playbook.
39. Will the chemistry of the secondary be an issue again in 2021? Frank Reich thinks the secondary will be a strength for the Colts in 2021. Remember, it was Kenny Moore who went out of his way to mention this as an issue from last year’s team. Depth questions remain at both cornerback and safety.
40. Will Parris Campbell have his first healthy training camp? Yes. Parris Campbell was one of the healthiest Colts in training camp. That has to do something for Campbell’s confidence going into his third NFL season.
41. Who will be the team’s 3rd linebacker? It looks like the Colts will have their pick in terms of skillset in making this choice. Against run teams? There’s Zaire Franklin. Against more pass happy teams? You could turn to E.J. Speed. If you are picking one though, it’s Franklin. Speed has missed a couple of weeks with a hyperextended knee.
42. Does Danny Pinter push Mark Glowinski for a starting job? No. This was never likely, but it’s a question that I’ve fielded this offseason. Pinter was needed at center for Ryan Kelly until his own foot injury in the joint practices sidelined him for the few weeks.
43. Will Tyquan Lewis secure a second contract in Indianapolis this season? It was a nice start to camp for Lewis before a shoulder injury sidelined him. With Lewis back, he’s likely to be starting opposite Kwity Paye, and giving this team versatile, 3-down ability. Al-Quadin Muhammad is the other name to watch at the end spot opposite Paye.
44. Is Kenny Moore going to garner serious Pro Bowl consideration this year? Grand Park was just another reminder of how special of a player Kenny Moore is for the Colts. Moore’s presence and ability is nothing to take for granted. If Moore can register a few more highlight reel plays, the NFL is going to take notice.
45. Who is the short yardage quarterback in 2021? Another storyline that was clouded due to the Carson Wentz injury situation. In all likelihood though, it’ll be Wentz handling the role that Jacoby Brissett had in the second half of last season.
46. Will big wideouts Dezmon Patmon and/or Mike Strachan make the 53-man roster? Well, this definitely turned into a big storyline. With roster cuts less than a week away, it’s a great debate on how the Colts will handle the futures of both Patmon and Strachan. Both guys had good camps and deserve to still be around, whether on the 53-man roster or practice squad.
47. Will the Colts offense be better situationally this season? It needs to be. Finishing off drives with Jacob Eason and Sam Ehlinger leading the offense was an issue this preseason. Will the presence of Carson Wentz and his past strength in those areas help flip this script?
48. Do we see more man coverage played by the Colts this season? It’s not expected. What Matt Eberflus wants more than anything from his defense is a disruptive four-man rush group which would allow him to consistently drop 7 in coverage. If the Colts can get that, this defense could take a needed jump.
49. Will the Colts be more physical during training camp? I didn’t notice much of an uptick in the physicality. The Colts didn’t go live at any point in camp. But they strapped on the full pads a good amount and thumped to the point where they believe they’ll be ready for Week 1.
50. Any COVID-related issues for the 2021 Colts? The Colts had a few issues early on with Frank Reich testing positive and Xavier Rhodes, T.J. Carrie, Al-Quadin Muhammad and Julie’n Davenport all missing time on the COVID list at the start of camp. And then recently with Matt Eberflus missing both preseason games for a positive test.
51. Will the Colts use a 3rd safety on defense this season? Such a personnel grouping was not really used in 2020. And we didn’t really see any of it in camp, despite the Colts saying they were open to it in the offseason. The lack of reliable depth at safety was an issue in camp, with the Colts turning to some cornerbacks (T.J. Carrie and Andre Chachere to play some safety).
52. How much will Frank Reich play his starters in the preseason? Not much. At least so far. We’ve yet to see Jonathan Taylor, T.Y. Hilton, Jack Doyle and Xavier Rhodes despite them being healthy in camp. If Jacob Eason is needed Week 1, he’s yet to see game action with multiple starters on offense.
53. Any surprise roster cuts? What about Marlon Mack? Yes, this probably won’t happen. But if you were to make a running back depth chart right now, you’d get no arguments from me in having Jordan Wilkins ahead of Mack. Remember, it’s Wilkins who plays special teams, too. I don’t see any notable names on defense in serious jeopardy. Maybe Marvell Tell.
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