The Indianapolis Colts will hold its 2013 training camp in Anderson, Indiana, with the full squad reporting on Saturday, July 27th. After losing Peyton Manning to injury and his eventual release, in 2012 the Colts turned around their 2-14 record from 2011 to rally around Head Coach Chuck Pagano after being diagnosed with cancer to 11-5 record and a playoff berth.
Can the Colts' 2013 prove to be as successful? Will the Colts advance in the playoffs or win the AFC South? How till the Colts recent off-season changes affect their 2013 campaign? Here are five burning questions heading into this upcoming season.
Can Andrew Luck Have Repeat Success in his Sophomore Season?
Andrew Luck tossed for 4,374 yards and 23 TDs, and broke a number of rookie records in 2012, and should be expected to only improve in 2013. However, there will be some changes this season, which hopefully could improve his chances of repeat success? Next year, he will be paired with former Stanford Offensive Coordinator Pep Hamilton, and although the offense will certainly be different than last years’, Luck’s familiarity with Pep Hamilton from college may prove to be a recipe for success. Also, the Colts have drafted and signed a number of new offensive lineman, and the added protection should be able help Luck improve in 2013. However, anything can happen, and Luck’s evolution as a quarterback is something to consider before training camp.
What will come from the Colts’ One-year Free Agent Signings?
The Colts signed veteran running back Ahmad Bradshaw and ex-Raiders wide receiver Darrius Heyward-Bey to one year deals to bolster the Colts’ young offense. Bradshaw should help second year back Vick Ballard by splitting carries, but Bradshaw’s history of injuries may derail any output from this free agent signing. Going into training camp, Colts fans have to wonder whether Bradshaw can remain healthy and ready to make an impact to start the season. As for Heyward-Bey, his propensity to drop passes could be an issue going into the 2013 season. Indeed, he dropped 12.8% of passes in 2012, and according to Pro Football Focus, Heyward-Bay has been targeted past 20 yards 75 times, and with 11 receptions, his catch rate is 14.6%. Keep in mind, Heyward-Bey had been in Oakland with a revolving door of sub-par quarterbacks, and could show tons of improvement next season. This is one of the most intriguing issues to consider before the season begins.
Which Rookies will Secure Spots in the 53-man roster?
The Colts selected seven players in the NFL draft, as well as a number of undrafted free agents, and going into training camp, these players will be squaring off for roster spots. One can pretty much assume that Colts’ first-round draft pick Bjoern Werner will make the roster, but who knows with the other picks, especially Mr. Irrelevant, TE Justin Cunningham? Also, after the recent legal troubles of LaVon Brazill and Joe Lefeged, these rosters spots may be open for younger players and rookies, which should only make the upcoming training camp more exciting.
Is Erik Walden Worth his Hefty Free Agent Contract?
The Colts made a large free agent signing in ex-Packers OLB Erik Walden for four years, $16 million. The Colts drafted Bjoren Werner but released former Colts’ legend Dwight Freeney, and needed to get another outsider linebacker. Walden’s career in the NFL has been mostly mediocre, but after dropping this kind of cash, the Colts must have some unknown secret that will trigger Walden’s eventual success. Will he shine in training camp and become the defensive presence the Colts have been looking for? Will he be worth the bank? We’ll just have to wait and see.
How will the Colts’ Improved Offensive Line Play in 2013?
The Colts need to protect its best asset, second year QB Andrew Luck, and through draft and free agency, the Colts made a number of moves this off-season to bolster its struggling offensive line. Next year’s starting line will likely consist of: OT Anthony Castonzo, OT Gosder Cherilus, OG Donald Thomas, OG Hugh Thornton and C Samson Satele. Only Satele and Castonzo started last year, and returning Colts Jeff Linkenbach and Joe Reitz will have to fight it out for a backup role. Considering that Evan Silva ranked the Colts’ offensive line as 17th best heading into 2013, these changes should be a harbinger for things to come.