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NFL: JUN 14 Indianapolis Colts Minicamp

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INDIANAPOLISColts players, welcome back to Indianapolis.

After 3 months away from the Colts Complex, players will return to Indy next week for the start of their 8-week offseason program.

Strength and conditioning, plus meetings, will be the focus early on, before on-field team activities arrive later in May.

The Colts can hold up to 10 OTA sessions, but are electing to have just 6 of them (May 21-23; May 29-31), before a 3-day mandatory minicamp (June 4-6) ends the offseason program.

Here are 6 things I’ll be watching for as the Colts return to work:

1. Richardson Activity

NFL: AUG 16 Indianapolis Colts Training Camp Source:Getty

From the onset of Anthony Richardson’s shoulder injury/decision for surgery, the thought was always he’d be ready to go for the spring offseason program.

That remains true now a handful of months removed from surgery.

Remember, there’s a physical ramp-up period to the offseason program, so Richardson’s on-field activity isn’t really needed until those OTA sessions (May 21-23; May 29-31).

If you add up the OTAs and minicamp, the Colts have 9 scheduled 11-on-11 practices this spring, so it’ll be interesting to see if there’s any maintenance days for him.

Assuming Richardson can take part a good amount this spring, it’s a terrific opportunity for him to take the starting reps this spring in Year Two of Shane Steichen’s offense.

2. Defensive Tweaks?

Jacksonville Jaguars v Indianapolis Colts Source:Getty

Is this hoping or an actually honest question?

Year Three of the Gus Bradley defense wasn’t a slam dunk at the end of the season, but the Colts have stressed continuity as the main reason for running it back with their veteran defensive coordinator.

Personnel wise, the Colts are returning all 11 of their defensive starters from last season.

Some internal, individual player development, especially in the secondary, is certainly an in-house belief.

But what about scheme tweaks from Bradley? Is that something we see after a second straight season of ranking 28th in points allowed?

The Colts have had discussions with Bradley on the balance in playing man coverage vs. zone. Also, the amount of blitzing by the Colts is another debate.


Under Bradley, the Colts have been a heavy zone team, with minimal blitzing.


Will that continue?

3. Secondary Emergence

Las Vegas Raiders v Indianapolis Colts Source:Getty

No Colts position unit will have more eyes on it this spring than the secondary.

In opting to run it back defensively, with likely draft additions still to come, the Colts need some young development at both cornerback and safety.

At cornerback, we are talking about Jaylon Jones (who had a nice rookie campaign as a 7th round pick), JuJu Brents (needing to stay healthy), Dallis Flowers (who had a nice start to the year before a Week 4 torn Achilles) and Darrell Baker Jr. (who helped himself earn a starting job last spring).

At safety, we are talking about Rodney Thomas II (who got benched late last season for inconsistency), Nick Cross (a former 3rd round pick who has started 4 games in two years) and Daniel Scott (a 2023 rookie who tore his ACL last spring, but someone the staff is high on).

Ideally, the Colts would see multiple names emerge with ample playing time again available in the defensive backfield.

Clearly, Chris Ballard and company are banking on some of this given how they handled free agency in the secondary.

4. Surprised Development

NFL: DEC 10 Colts at Bengals Source:Getty

With the roster growing towards 90, the spring does offer a chance for someone to surprise across those 9 OTA/minicamp sessions.

For example, Darrell Baker Jr. was one of those guys from last year.

When a team has had as quiet of a free agency as the Colts have had so far, they obviously have some internal belief on their own roster, and guys behind the scenes rising a bit.

Year Two growth from guys like OT-Blake Freeland, DT-Adetomoiwa Adebawore and TE-Will Mallory should be on that list.

What about someone at running back, with reps behind Jonathan Taylor up for grabs?

A defensive name the staff has intrigue on is DE-Isaiah Land, who was a 6th round pick last year and a waiver claim of the Colts at the end of the preseason.

5. Where Are The Injured Guys?

Indianapolis Colts v Minnesota Vikings Source:Getty

The Colts do not have a ton of marquee injured/surgery rehab guys to watch this offseason.

Yes, Anthony Richardson is one. And Braden Smith did have off-season knee surgery after missing 7 games last season.

But some other names on the ‘injured, rehabbing’ list would include RB-Evan Hull (knee), TE-Jelani Woods (hamstring), OT-Jake Witt (hip), DE-Titus Leo (knee), S-Daniel Scott (knee).

A varying amount of roles are available for the names above.

Could Hull become the main running back backup to Taylor?

Are those nagging hamstring issues for Woods finally over, after a disappointing redshirt second season?

Is Scott, a 2023 fifth-round pick, really a candidate for safety playing time?

6. New Defensive Line Approach

NFL: NOV 05 Colts at Panthers Source:Getty

The Colts did make a positional coach change this offseason, by brining Charlie Partridge in from the college ranks to lead the defensive line.

Despite the Colts setting a franchise record for sacks last season, the Colts ranked near the bottom of the NFL in pressure rate.

Partridge has a decorated college resume in the sack/pressure department.

Kwity Paye is a name entering a really critical 4th NFL season. Dayo Odeyingbo’s growth seems to be heading toward a deserved contract extension if his game continues to ascend.

Will former mid-round picks in Adeotomiwa Adebawore (4th round in 2023) and Eric Johnson (5th round in 2022) show anything?

Is the behind-the-scenes curiosity in Isaiah Land going to lead to something off the edge?

How will the arrival of Raekwon Davis impact the usage of DeForest Buckner and Grover Stewart?

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