Indianapolis Colts Early August Scouting Report
Hey there Colts’ fans! Here are the happenings from the early days of Colts’ training camp at the complex on the city’s northwest side:
The big story for all teams in the first week of August is the suddenly growing list of players "opting out" of the NFL 2020 season due to COVID concerns. If a player has high-risk health concerns he gets $350k and if he doesn’t he gets $150k for the season and his contract status going into 2020 picks up where it left off going into 2020 (minus the stipend for this year coming out of next year’s salary; it is basically an advance to cover living for this year). The NFLPA and the NFL finally hammered out the details and the key date is August 6 at 4pm, the time at which anyone must opt out to get the stipend – unless a new condition makes him eligible after the deadline. All of these possibilities mean that some teams will lose a bunch of players that they planned on having on the 53 man roster, and the Colts are no different there. Despite being one of the last teams to lose a player to the option, they have lost three guys expected to be integral depth players and special teams guys in 2020. DB Marvell Tell and DB Rolan Milligan were each expected to the 4th guy at their respective backfield positions, as was LB Skai Moore among the linebacking corps. Lack of depth was a negative factor for this team last year, and it looked to be a lot better until some of these key reserves opted out. But I do expect that the key impact will be on special teams where they might have to rely on rookies to fill those roles far more than anticipated. You may also recall that starting LT Anthony Costanzo almost retired this offseason before deciding to return, and he also stated that he strongly considered opting out after the option was made available. This week, he has stated that he will be playing this year and will not be opting out, so that avoids one potential huge hole. One might have wondered if veteran QB Philip Rivers might opt out due to family concerns as he does have 9 (!) children at home, but the ultra-competitive and aged passer was not going to sit one out and admitted that a year off probably meant retirement for him.
One big concern that I have is the hamstring strain that WR TY Hilton has experienced early in camp. The team says it is precautionary to hold him out for a while now, but this is a disturbing continuance of the last few years which have shown Hilton to have numerous soft tissue strains – mostly hamstrings. For an older guy whose game is based on speed, this is a dangerous trend to be stuck in – especially with the lack of big play or mismatch potential in the receiving crew as a whole.Heck, they have not even put on pads and practiced full speed yet, and he is already limping. Not a good sign. Along with Hilton, third round pick S Julian Blackmon is still on the Active/non-football injury list as he works his way back from a 2019 late-season knee injury, so he has not been on the field yet; with the loss of Milligan, his return to form early in 2020 might be of greater importance now. DE KemekoTuray and TE Mo Alie-Cox were among the three guys placed on the PUP list to start camp
The two rookies that are of most interest to the fantasy community are also the two that have really caught HC Frank Reich’s eye early in camp. Reich repeatedly has gushed about the physical gifts and dominance of RB Jonathan Taylor and WR Michael Pittman, and both are expected to play a huge role in the offense this year and into the future. Taylor is a better pick from a dynasty perspective as he surely will be the bell-cow starting in 2021 with RB Marlon Mack’s contract expiring. But Pittman should start right away and could be a factor, especially in scoring-heavy FFL systems as he has a nose for the end zone and the size to be a red zone threat.
The team has not made any serious moves yet, but surely might be in the market to shore up the defensive backfield after the opting out of two key contributors. The team did waive or release eight players this week also, but none were anything more than a camp body and had little to no shot of making the final roster.
That is all for this week from the Crossroads of America. I will be back later in August to update any other roster moves or injuries, as well as look ahead to the regular season as a whole. Then in early September (God willing!) there will be a week 1 game to preview. Until then friends….stay safe and healthy!
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