The Indianapolis Colts wrapped up training camp yesterday and returned home. Just over two weeks of camp have shown us a lot about the 2014 team but also left us with some questions.
The Colts will take the field Saturday against the New York Giants and we’ll get a better idea of what to expect. Coach Chuck Pagano said that the starters could be expected to play for a full quarter.
That will likely translate to two or three series for both the offense and defense. While that will be helpful to get a better picture of this team, the Giants aren’t exactly a fearsome opponent and won’t offer a true test.
Takeaways from Camp:
- Playmaker Offense. Offensive coordinator Pep Hamilton has stated that there isn’t a singular focus on the offense this season and that the concept is to get the impact players on the field. That’s a departure from the run-heavy focus that Pagano has been preaching, and the play on the field backs up Hamilton’s comments too. The Colts have lined up in a lot of spread formations that feature more wide receivers and tight ends than full backs and running backs.
- We also saw the no-huddle against the Jets. If the Colts let Andrew Luck cut loose with his receiver, this offense is going to score a ton of points.
- Stout Defense. This might be the first year under Pagano that the Colts can actually stop an opponent’s rushing attack. The defensive line looks much better and hasn’t been pushed around nearly as much as in the past. There is also a decent amount of depth across this unit and even incremental improvement in play would be a step forward for a defense that gave up 234 rushing yards to the Patriots in the playoffs.
- T.Y. Hilton. He has been unreal. Hilton is going to tear defenses apart on crossing routes. And when defenses line up to stop him there, Hilton will burn his man deep. The connection between him and Luck looks stronger than in the past and I wouldn’t be surprised if Hilton leads the team in receiving.
- Bjoern Werner. He definitely stood out at camp and brings significant pressure with each snap. Hopefully this will translate to games as well, but right now Werner looks impressive. He’ll start four games while Robert Mathis serves his suspension and there is a chance Werner could snag Erik Walden‘s spot if he continues to play at a high level.
- Donte Moncrief. The rookie has been on fire in camp. He’s already fourth on the depth chart and the Colts will likely try to find ways to get him on the field. Moncrief had a history of drops at Mississippi, but rarely does a pass slip through his fingers. He’s also been seen close to Reggie Wayne constantly asking for advice.
- Mr. Wayne. Speaking of Reggie, he looks great after coming back from a torn ACL. He uses his exceptional route running to get open and burn the defense. Occasionally you’ll see a burst of speed, but the subtle ways he gets open are impressive.
- Two More Receivers. Da’Rick Rogers and Griff Whalen have both shown flashes of greatness at camp. Rogers is fantastic when running deep routes, but struggles making cuts. Whalen has sure hands and great route running but struggles in press coverage and doesn’t have great speed. There is a good chance that both will make the roster and offer some interesting skills for the offense.
- Offensive Line. This unit was already questionable heading into training camp, and now it looks even worse. The Colts will have three players (maybe) with a year or less experience across the middle. We still don’t know the extent of Khaled Holmes‘ ankle injury and now rookie Jack Mewhort, who looked very good in practice, has been out for the last few days with a sore knee. Continuity is paramount for any offensive line, but the Colts will likely be playing musical chairs again this season.
- Keeping Luck upright is the most important thing for the Colts offense. He is the most important player for this team, but if he keeps taking hits his health could become an issue.
- Safety. We still don’t know who will be starting at the safety spot. It will likely be LaRon Landry and someone else, but Landry sat out most of camp due to injuries and has only played a full season three times in his seven year career. Delano Howell shows promise, but he has injury concerns as well. The veteran Mike Adams is solid, but not particularly impressive at the position. Sergio Brown, well, he just isn’t very good and continues to make the same mistakes play after play.
- Overall Health. The Colts are one of the most injured teams every year. That’s even with changes to the strength and conditioning staff. This is a team that could easily be derailed by injuries once again, but if they manage to stay healthy (somehow) they will make a nice run in the playoffs.