Indianapolis Colts July Scouting Report
Hey there Colts’ fans! The boys in blue started training camp this week along with most of the rest of the NFL, and here are some musings and observations from the opening weekend:
Transactions: Not a lot has gone on down at the Colts complex this month heading into camp. There have been a lot of the usual shufflings of the players at the bottom of the training camp roster, but nothing that should likely impact anything come September. The only real signing to note was of free agent LB Drew Lewis, and the subsequent release of LB Tre Thomas. An undrafted rookie in 2018, Lewis has decent length and athleticism, and was in camp with the Texans last year before getting waived during the preseason. Nonetheless, Lewis is still a long shot to make the roster, and if so, he will be deep enough to be a special teamer primarily.
Injuries: There were a few players on the PUP list to start camp, most notably veteran backup RB Spencer Ware who has a muscle injury expected to keep him on the shelf for two precautionary weeks. Intriguing youngster WR Daurice Fountain (NFI) and DE Carroll Phillips (PUP) were both sidelined briefly, but each was quickly re-added to the active roster within 24 hrs of their initial pre-camp designation. As of the moment, there are no significant injury concerns among any of the players expected to be contributors to the team on either side of the ball. DE Jabaal Sheard (knee swelling) and DE KemekoTuray (shoulder strain) each have a minor injury that is being monitored but is not labeled as serious at this time. The team is giving QB Andrew Luck time off throughout camp to preserve his arm and minimize risk to their franchise cornerstone, but the lingering calf injury that held him out of the OTAs is stated to be a total non-factor.
Offense: Luck has looked sharp in his work thus far, of course all with the first unit. He has excelled in both the 7-on-7 and 11-on-11 drills and has spread the ball around as expected. He did sit out the 3rd day of camp on Friday as a part of the "maintenance program" that I mentioned in the previous section. TE Jack Doyle, WR TY Hilton and OL Anthony Castonzo all also sat out the first day with full pads for this same reason, showing perhaps exactly how valuable these pieces are to their offense in 2019. Backup Jacoby Brissett has looked reasonable in his limited looks. However, the two guys vying for a 3rd quarterback spot have each struggled (QB Philip Walker and QB Chad Kelly especially), reducing the already-low chance of the Colts keeping a 3rd passer on the roster.
Early indications from the first week of practice have the Colts showing multiple formations utilizing a slot receiver to force mismatches and misdirection plays, including jet sweeps and the like. This bodes well for the use of rookie WR Parris Campbell in the offense as well as some opportunities for Hilton to be used creatively. The running game also looked very solid, with RB Marlon Mack showing good patience and skill in setting up his blockers for success moreso that the line just dominating (which it also did at times). And last year’s preseason sensation WR Deon Cain was known for his highlight reel spectacular plays in 2018, and his return from a preseason ACL tear has appeared to take no luster off his big play ability. I expect a healthy Cain will provide useful depth to the receiving crew, but his expanded role in the offense will be reliant on his ability to shore up his mental mistakes and occasional drops. A guy to keep an eye on in case of injuries or for deeper dynasty leagues is TE Mo Alie-Cox who has continued his rapid ascent as a pro tight end, a stepping up that began in the spring workouts.
Defense: Like the offense, the other side of the ball also had some guys scheduled for preventative maintenance on the first day of padded practice with DE Justin Houston, DL Margus Hunt and SS Clayton Geathers all sitting out the contact drills. It looked like CB Kenny Moore has earned the starting corner job across from CB Pierre Desir, and when they went to the nickel they brought in former 2nd rounder CB Quincy Wilson on the outside and moved Moore into the slot. Wilson is having a very strong summer thus far after struggling to live up to his draft status for two seasons. The defense did do a lot of shifting around and mixing/matching all throughout the scrimmaging; perhaps they are still tinkering to see what lineup works best together, and perhaps this is an indication of a little more of an "amoeba" defense that will keep opposing offenses guessing. This is something worth following as the preseason continues, since a perplexing defense coupled with a powerful offense could render the Colts as more fantasy viable than their overall talent might indicate they should be worth. Top pick CB Rock Ya-Sin also showed good cover skills and physicality in his time on the field, spending some time covering the gigantic WR Devin Funchess. He spent some time as a gunner on the punt coverage units as well.
Special Teams: The indefatigable PK Adam Vinatieri looked as sharp as usual, and there is no worry about him being a very serviceable NFL kicker even if he might not get enough FGAs to be a solid fantasy kicker. The rookie Campbell has been the primary punt returner all summer and that looks unlikely to change going forward as he simply is more explosive that the very reliable WR Chester Rogers; it remains to be seen if an expanded role in the offense for either does impact the selection of the primary return role going forward.
That is all for now from the early days of camp. Hopefully there will be no news of a major injury that could rock the team and shake their chances of success in 2019. As they go forward into their first preseason games, I will be back in a few weeks to assess what we have seen and not seen to give you a better flavor of the way the team should function for fantasy in 2019. Until then, friends…..go enjoy some early drafts and LET’S GET READY TO RUMBLLLLLLLLLLE !!
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Sunday, September 13th, 2020
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