INDIANAPOLIS – There will be several position battles to watch on each side of the ball for the Colts training camp this year.
When camp gets underway next week at Grand Park, I’ll be watching six starting battles.
Here are the Colts position battles to watch at training camp:
1. Wide Receiver No. 2
Yes, the Colts have wide open playing time at multiple receiver spots behind Michael Pittman.
The likes of Parris Campbell, Ashton Dulin, Mike Strachan, Dezmon Patmon, Keke Coutee and Alec Pierce should receive some first-team looks at camp.
A lot of this will depend on what the Colts are looking for behind the 1,000-yard Pittman.
When you look at the names above, it’s filled with inexperience. No matter who earns the playing time behind Pittman, Matt Ryan’s veteran presence is going to be needed on heavily in helping to guide this group.
2. Left Tackle
On this list, you’ll see a couple of ‘veteran vs. rookie’ battles.
But this one has a veteran in Matt Pryor who would have laughed at the thought of him playing left tackle just a year ago.
Pryor is entering his fifth NFL season, has 15 career starts, but just 2 of those are at left tackle. He will get the first look to take over Eric Fisher’s job.
Bernhard Raimann, a third-round pick out of Central Michigan, will try to accomplish something you rarely see in the NFL—a non first-round rookie starting at left tackle.
3. Right Guard
Unlike left tackle, this camp battle could have a few more layers to it.
The ‘betting favorite’ is probably Ball State product Danny Pinter. The staff loves Pinter (especially as a center), but he has never played right guard, at any level.
Outside of Pinter, the loser of the Matt Pryor/Bernhard Raimann battle could get a look at right guard. Pryor has right guard starting experience.
Will Fries, a 7th round pick from last year, is also a potential name to watch.
For the first time since Frank Reich’s first season (2018), the Colts will be looking for two new offensive line starters.
4. No. 2/3 Cornerback
This one is a tad complicated.
Kenny Moore II, assuming he’s not holding out, should be on the field for every defensive snap, either lining up outside in the base defense, or inside in the sub package groups.
Stephon Gilmore’s playing time will depend on his health and what the staff determines for his workload.
If Gilmore does play a scaled back role, like he did last season, that will open up some more playing time.
No matter how that shakes out, a battle between Brandon Facyson and Isaiah Rodgers is likely for that third corner spot.
Facyson and Rodgers both had strong springs and have offered a little bit more hope to this position than where the Colts were exiting last season.
5. Strong Safety
With Khari Willis retiring, this is an open starting job.
Like the thought at left tackle, who starts at strong safety will be the veteran in Rodney McLeod vs. the rookie in Nick Cross.
McLeod has been a full-time starter since 2013, starting the last 123 games he’s played in.
Cross has the oozing traits, but he’s also just 20 years old.
Julian Blackmon’s rapid Achilles recovery was great news exiting the spring. But the Willis news has now led to some questions on who will be the guy next to Blackmon come Week 1 in Houston.
If Rodrigo Blankenship replicates what he did last camp, he’s going to re-gain his kicking job.
Hot Rod was perfect in his camp battle with Eddy Pinerio last year.
Currently, Jake Verity is the other kicker on the Colts roster.
Verity has never kicked in an NFL game, spending last year on the Ravens practice squad after going undrafted in 2021.
Of course, this is a position that you see some late August roster movement. So maybe we don’t get a final answer here until September arrives.