Colts Training Camp
Many, but not all, of the Indianapolis Colts training camp practices are open to the public at Anderson University. Open times in the coming week will be 1:50-4:30 p.m. Sunday, Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, Aug. 3 and Aug. 4. Admission is free, but Anderson University charges a parking fee.
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This promises to be an Indianapolis Colts training camp unlike any other in the last decade. There are new players, new coaches and job openings across the board.
Fans who make it to Anderson over the next three weeks are sure to see something intriguing. The Colts' full roster of players will report Saturday, with the first day of camp on Sunday.
Here's just a glimpse at a few of the plots to keep an eye on:
Andrew Luck will take the first snap at camp and probably most of the snaps after that. I'm sure Drew Stanton and Chandler Harnish will get some work – the Colts don't want to wear out Luck's arm before his first regular-season game – but this team will be Luck's from Day One.
It'll be fascinating to see how offensive coordinator Bruce Arians interacts with Luck, and how Luck establishes a rapport with his receivers, starting with Reggie Wayne and Austin Collie. The Colts' offense has revolved around Peyton Manning, as it should, since 1998. Fair or not, we'll compare Luck's leadership to Manning's. It'll be important, in all fairness, to make the comparison to Manning as a rookie. That'll be tough to do.
We've seen some snapshots of Pagano's approach during offseason activities, but this will be an extended period of the new coach in action. He's in a fairly ideal position, taking over a team starting nearly from scratch with no major outside expectations.
Pagano has spent his career as a defensive coach. How will he interact with the offensive side? What will his input be? Will he be fairly hands-on or let Arians run the offensive show? Pagano is a likable guy, full of energy and enthusiasm. Head coaches set the tone of teams. How his approach differs from the Tony Dungy/Jim Caldwell style will be fun to see.
Luck is in his own category as the new face of the franchise. But several other rookies are in line to be immediate impact players.
Tight ends Coby Fleener and Dwayne Allen, who came to contract agreements on Wednesday, are the most likely to dive immediately into the mix. Nose tackle Josh Chapman will probably be unable to compete right away as he continues rehab from knee surgery.
Other rookies to watch include T.Y. Hilton. Is he the answer the Colts' long-standing weakness in the return game? Vick Ballard will try to break into an open competition at running back, where veteran Donald Brown returns along with second-year players Delone Carter and Darren Evans and veteran newcomer Mewelde Moore.
With 54 new players in Colts uniforms, opportunity to boost or begin new stages of careers abound. Among the players to watch will be Donnie Avery, the speedy wide receiver who has been plagued by injuries so far in his career. He's in position to join Wayne and Collie as the primary wide receivers to open the season if he has a strong camp.
Another player to watch is safety Tom Zbikowski. The Notre Dame product opted to leave Baltimore, where he was stuck behind Ed Reed. He knows the 3-4 defense favored by Pagano and defensive coordinator Greg Manusky, so he has some edge there. Zibkowski, 27, is at the point of his career where he's driven to be a starter.
After the Colts purged their roster to a degree, the needs for new players to step up are huge on the offensive line and the defensive secondary. Anthony Castonzo, last season's top pick, might end up as the only returning starter on the offensive line. New Colts linemen such as center Samson Satele, Winston Justice and Mike McGlynn will need to step up and perform.
The only sure player at cornerback is Jerraud Power, so it's a wide-open competition among Kevin Thomas, Cassius Vaughn, Chris Rucker, Terrence Johnson and others.
I'd be shocked if anyone other than kicker Adam Vinatieri and punter Pat McAfee put a foot on the football this season for the Colts. The kicking game might be the one source of instant stability.