What positions are up for grabs at Colts training camp

Jun 7, 2016; Indianapolis, IN, USA; Indianapolis Colts center Ryan Kelly (78) squares off in blocking drills against offensive tackle Anthony Castonzo (74) during mini camp at the Indiana Farm Bureau Center. Mandatory Credit: Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports
Jun 7, 2016; Indianapolis, IN, USA; Indianapolis Colts center Ryan Kelly (78) squares off in blocking drills against offensive tackle Anthony Castonzo (74) during mini camp at the Indiana Farm Bureau Center. Mandatory Credit: Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports /

The Indianapolis Colts will be heading north to Anderson, Indiana to officially kick off the 2016 season next week. Which positions will be up for grabs heading into this season?

Unlike some recent years, the Colts won’t be having extensive battles for various spots along the roster. The vast majority of starting positions are filled, and it is clear who the backups will be as well. All of this is barring injury of course and will likely change as a couple key players return from injury (like defensive end Henry Anderson, who is still rehabbing an ACL).

On offense, the Colts will really just be looking along the right side of the offensive line and backup running back. Defensively, the Colts need to find their second inside linebacker and a few players will be jockeying for the starting spots along the defensive line. Special teams are set, which is a rarity considering the number of players the Colts have plugged in at kick and punt return for roughly the entire history of the franchise.

So with the vast majority of positions set, who will be fighting for those few remaining starting and backup spots left?

Offensive Line

Shocking, right? But the good news is that it’s just two positions: right guard and right tackle. The Colts are set at the other three spots along the line, which is more than a lot of teams can say. But just like past seasons, the goal is to keep Andrew Luck upright and healthy.

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Right Guard

Hugh Thornton should have the inside tract for this position. He’s more or less been the starter the past few seasons, but has struggled to stay healthy. Thornton has missed the entire offseason of workouts due to injuries, but has also worked to get leaner in an effort to be more successful in offensive line coach Joe Philbin’s new blocking scheme.

Denzelle Good got some offseason reps at right guard while Thornton was sidelined, but he too dealt with some injuries. The Colts see a lot of potential in the second-year player and he could make a case for starting at either right guard or right tackle.

Jonotthan Harrison, who is now the backup center after the Colts drafted Ryan Kelly, has been taking reps at guard as well. This might actually be a better position has Harrison struggled with some of the basics of being a center (like remembering the snap count) but at times showed flashes of being a good blocker.

Rookie Joe Haeg will also be given a chance to snag this position, but he’s more likely to end up as a backup on the final roster. That said, he did fill in for Harrison during minicamp and OTAs.

Right Tackle 

Joe Reitz started most of last season at this spot, and while he struggled at times did an admirable job filling in after being thrust into the position. Reitz is a better fit at guard, and incidentally is still listed as a guard on the Colts roster. Considering Good managed to stick with the roster last season, he has a shot at this spot as well.

Rookies Le’Raven Clark and Joe Haeg can both make the roster, but are longshots to win the starting spot. The Colts basically are throwing warm bodies at the offensive line problems and are hoping a few stars emerge. It worked last season for their defensive counterparts, and the addition of Kelly has already made this unit look better.

Backup Running Back

This might not seem like that important of a position, but Frank Gore is 33 and the presumptive backup, Robert Turbin, was A) just arrested on marijuana charges, and B) isn’t really that good.

To say the Colts have struggled to run the ball over the past decade is an understatement. The team has been cursed by injuries and Trent Richardson at the position and while Gore was 33, his carries need to be dialed back.

Two players standout when it comes to backing up Gore: Tyler Varga and rookie Josh Ferguson. Varga was out most of last season with a nasty concussion, but he showed flashes in the preseason last year. Ferguson would be a nice change of pace back and feels like the kind of scat back the team really hasn’t ever had.

Inside Linebacker

Losing Josh Freeman in free agency is a big blow to the Colts defense and the team doesn’t have a great option to replace him. Nate Irving and Sio Moore have the experience to take over at this spot, but both have injury history.

The Colts also have rookie Antonio Morrison but he has yet to practice due to a sore hamstring. That means the top three choices either struggled through last season with injuries or haven’t been able to get reps in with the team.

Amarlo Herrera and Junior Sylvestre are both still on the roster, but it is unlikely either will take the starting spot. The Colts really need someone who can compliment D’Qwell Jackson‘s skill set which means someone who can be effective in coverage. Right now, it doesn’t look like anyone fits that bill.