Season Preview: Indianapolis Colts

  The question isn’t “can the Colts win the AFC South?”, the question is “how far can the Colts go in the playoffs?”. The Colts have ruled the AFC South the last few years, but do they have enough to get to the AFC Championship game or the Super Bowl? We will begin to find out shortly. Quarterback In Andrew Luck, the Colts have one of the emerging stars at the quarterback position in the NFL. While not quite there yet, both Luck and Seattle’s Russell Wilson will join the elite quarterbacks like Aaron Rodgers and Tom Brady as the top quarterbacks in the league. Luck in his fourth season is ready to make that step and it shouldn’t be long before he is THE elite quarterback in the NFL. If Luck goes down, the Colts have an aging, but still reliable backup in Matt Hasselbeck. The nice thing about Hasselbeck is that he knows his limits. He is excellent at playing within himself. Running Back The Colts have been without an elite running back for a while. Last year Trent Richardson led the team with only 519 yards rushing and a 3.3 yards per carry average. The production at the running back position must improve in 2015. To improve the Colts brought in veteran Frank Gore from San Francisco. After 10 years in the league, Gore is not what he used to be, but he is still better than what the Colts have had. Behind Gore is career backup Dan Herron, Vic Ballard and rookie Josh Robinson. Even though he was only a sixth round pick, Robinson has the talent to be productive in this offense. Wide Receiver and Tight End The big addition for the Colts at wide receiver is Andre Johnson who has been with the Texans his entire career. While Johnson isn’t the player he was a few years ago, he is still very capable of putting up big numbers in the Colt scheme. Johnson has never had a quarterback as talented at Luck throwing to him. Opposite Johnson will be T.Y. Hilton who had a breakout season a year ago with 82 receptions. The slot could very well be first round pick Phillip Dorsett from Miami who was one of the fastest receivers in the draft. Second-year man Donte Moncrief  is immensely talented and should shine now that he understands the system. The Colts gave us a lot of three tight end formations mainly because they have the talent to do so. Coby Fleener is the move guy while Dwayne Allen can both block and play in space. Jack Doyle is the third tight end and is an outstanding blocker. Offensive Line The Colts cut right tackle Gosder Cherilus as they headed into camp. That spot will be taken over by second year man Jack Mewort. Mewort was a tackle at Ohio State and played left guard in 2014. The left tackle is Anthony Castonzo who is the Colts best and most consistent linemen. Mewort's replacement at left guard will be determined in camp. The battle is between Lance Louis and Hugh Thornton. Both have talent but need to play with consistency. Third year man Kahlid Holmes is the center if he can stay healthy. His backup is reliable Jonotthan Harrison. The right guard is veteran Todd Herremans who has spent his previous 10 years in the league with the Eagles. Defensive Line The key addition to the defensive line is Kendall Langford who was with the Rams the last three years. Langford will line up at end in the Colts base 3-4 and will most likely move inside on pass rush downs. At the other end will be Arthur Jones who only played in 9 games last year because of injuries. He too can move inside on pass rush downs. The third defensive end will be rookie Henry Anderson from Stanford who is a relentless competitor and should play a lot in the rotation. Josh Chapman is the nose tackle with capable Montori Hughes as his backup. Others who should get playtime are Kelcy Quarles and Zach Kerr. Linebacker The Colts have some quality players at Linebacker. Inside will be D’Qwell Jackson and Jerrell Freeman. The main backup is Nate Irving who was with Denver in 2014. Irving was a former starter in Denver but missed a good part of 2014 with an injury. On the outside, newcomer Trent Cole will give the Colts a solid edge pass rush. When Robert Mathis is ready to play that will be a tough duo to block. Erik Walden who had his best season as a pro last year is also in the equation. I would expect all three to get quality playtime once the regular season starts. Secondary The Colts have two Pro Bowlers to lead the secondary: corner Vontae Davis, and safety Mike Adams. Opposite Adams at safety should be Dwight Lowery who was a free agent signee from Atlanta where he started 15 games last year. The second corner should be Greg Toler. Last year the Colts nickel corner was Darius Butler but he will be challenged by rookie D’Juan Smith who is a good press cover guy. The main backups at safety should be rookie Clayton Geathers from Central Florida and second year man Dewey McDonald. Outlook Baring injuries to some key players, the Colts should easily win the AFC South. Their main challenger will be the Houston Texans but I can’t see Houston doing more than challenge for a wild card slot. Both Tennessee and Jacksonville are at least a year away from posing a challenge. Follow Greg on Twitter @greggabe

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