INDIANAPOLIS – And with that, a 16-practice slate of training camp has come to a close at Grand Park.
With 2 joint practices in those 16 sessions, plus 2 of 3 preseason games in the books, we have a pretty good idea of what a Colts depth chart looks like.
Before camp started, we previewed 6 position battles to watch at Grand Park.
Who won those battles?
Wide Receiver No. 2
I’ll give Parris Campbell the slight nod over Alec Pierce, but it’s pretty close when nitpicking between the No. 2 and No. 3 wide receiver.
Basically, when the Colts turn to a frequently used 3-wide receiver personnel grouping, it’s Campbell and Pierce on the field together with Michael Pittman.
Interestingly, if you tally up all the 11-on-11 completions for Matt Ryan at Grand Park, Campbell and Pierce rank 6th and 7th respectively on the receptions list, with a heavy emphasis of finding tight ends and running backs, while Pittman dominated the catch total.
Ashton Dulin is the 4th wideout, with the likes of Mike Strachan, Dezmon Patmon, Keke Coutee and DeMichael Harris rounding out the group. Pending roster cuts coming Tuesday means the Colts likely only have room for 2 of the 4 names above.
For the first time in Matt Pryor’s 5 NFL seasons, he will enter a season as a full-time starter, with this one coming at left tackle.
Until this week, Pryor took every single starting rep in camp at left tackle. Pryor flipped over to right tackle for a brief team period, which bumped rookie Bernhard Raimann into a rare starting left tackle look.
There were some ups and downs in the work with the Lions, but Pryor has shown the Colts that a slim downed version of the 6-7 322-pounder can handle life at left tackle.
Given his background, Pryor appears more suited to handle power rushers versus the speedier edge guys.
Raimann remained pretty much exclusively with the second team this camp, playing only left tackle. If Pryor shows some leakage, the Colts could turn to either Raimann or veteran Dennis Kelly.
Just like at left tackle, right guard saw one guy take 99 percent of the starting reps here.
It’ll be Danny Pinter getting his first starting job, as he plays right guard for the first time in his football career.
Pinter’s football background was a high school/college tight end, turned right tackle for two seasons, before the interior of the offensive line became his NFL home.
Another thing to note on Pinter, he will also be the team’s backup center. We saw Pinter as the starting center for the final two practices of camp, when Ryan Kelly was out due to a positive COVID test.
In camp, the Colts had their starting 5 offensive line group intact for every single practice, until Kelly’s absence on the second to last day of camp: LT-Matt Pryor, LG-Quenton Nelson, C-Ryan Kelly, RG-Danny Pinter, RT-Braden Smith.
No. 2/3 Cornerback
It’s safe to say that when the Colts are in their base defense (2 cornerbacks on the field), it’s Stephon Gilmore and Kenny Moore II on the outside.
When it’s time for a third cornerback to come on the field, that’s where Brandon Facyson comes into play. Facyson, who has ample history playing for Gus Bradley, lines up outside, with Moore moving to his more natural inside slot corner position
Isaiah Rodgers had some nice camp moments, but he appears to be the 4th cornerback right now.
Gilmore never took a veteran rest day in camp, so his snap-in-snap-out playing time could be at a much higher number than it was in Carolina last year.
Exiting camp, the 3-cornerback nickel personnel grouping that started Grand Park together remains the same: Gilmore, Moore and Facyson.
This was the starting battle that lasted the longest in camp.
Rookie Nick Cross wasted no time making the most of early starting reps this camp.
With veteran Rodney McLeod still working his way back from a minor knee procedure this summer, it was Cross lining up next to Julian Blackmon to start things at Grand Park.
Cross made an early highlight interception on the second play of the first 7-on-7 period of camp. He then backed that up with some nice plays in both preseason games.
The Colts are listing Cross as the starter at strong safety on their depth chart. We saw a lot of 50/50 split to these reps in camp, which continued this past week, but I can see Cross being the Week 1 starter next to Blackmon.
It took a little bit longer than many thought, but Jake Verity finally got cut this week.
For a second straight year, Rodrigo Blankenship won the training camp kicking battle.
Hot Rod made more kicks than Verity in practice, including the longer ones, north of 50 yards. Like last preseason, Blankenship had a strong and consistent kicking performance at Grand Park.
And Verity missed an in-game extra point, during the preseason home opener in Buffalo.
It’ll be interesting to see if the Colts scour the waiver wire at all next week to potentially add another kicker.
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