The training camp schedule has been released and we are just over a month away from the start of it. August 1st the players are to report to Anderson, Indiana to prepare for the grueling practices that so many of us, for some reason, love to watch. The Colts brought in some new faces this year to amp up production on both sides of the ball. Some seem like logical fits and others it feels like it’s a square peg in a round hole situation.
So with that in mind I have been thinking about some of these players, new and old, that we should really keep an eye on as we move closer to the beginning of the 2015-16 NFL season.
1. Kendall Langford-DL
Langford is one of the new faces I was talking about. He came in via free agency from St. Louis who has possibly one of the best defensive lines in the NFL. He played okay in St. Louis but he made his name when he was with Miami in a 3-4 defense. Langford shouldn’t have much of a problem transitioning into the Pagano’s hybrid 3-4 but I am still hesitant to say that he won’t have any issues. Langford has been known to get frustrated while playing and start to loss interest in what is going on. He gets frustrated because he cannot make the move or moves that he wants to make a play. He won’t be a big contributor in the pass rush but should help shore up the lack of run stoppers in the front. Langford is trying to fill the shoes of Colts fans favorite Cory Redding this season. He won’t be the leader Redding was but if he can make the switch back to 3-4 from a 4-3 then this may be a great pickup for Ryan Grigson.
2. Donald Thomas-OL
There are two big questions about Thomas coming into training camp. Is he healthy enough to get back in the mix? Where does he fit in along the offensive line? Neither has been answered yet. Thomas’ ability cannot be denied. He is a good offensive lineman. He can get the job done in pass blocking and run blocking. The first question is the biggest in my opinion. Is he healthy? I haven’t heard whether or not he will be ready for training camp but for his sake he better be doing everything he possibly can to be ready by August 1st. The second question of where does he fit is one that has intrigued me for about a month. The Colts signed him to play left guard for them but with two major injuries they have found another player for that position. Well now Mewhort may make the move to right tackle if Cherilus cannot go which leaves the hole at left guard again. Also Thomas can play center rather well. I assume he will get work at all three interior offensive lineman spots but I’m hoping that he gets the majority of the work at left guard. Holmes and Harrison have the experience now and if they can’t build on that they won’t get any better. Thomas is need elsewhere and throwing a third center into that mix would be a mistake in my opinion.
3. Clayton Geathers-S
Geathers is a rookie and I understand that not many rookies can be counted on but Geathers is different. He was a leader at UCF and has the opportunity to do the same here. He won’t be a starter right away. He will be a special teamer for starters but if Lowry cannot get the job done then Geathers should have his shot. He will have to continue to impress as he has since the Colts selected him. I feel that Geathers is the future at the strong safety position but he will have to continue his growth and be ready at all times. I’m sure that won’t be a problem for him.
4. Jonathan Newsome-OLB
Newsome had a great rookie season. He showed what he can do and from all reports has continued to work at his craft during the offseason. If you were at the mini-camp at LOS a couple of weeks ago, Newsome made some heads turn during tackling drills when he made the pads “pop” loud enough for all to hear. He seemed very pumped up and ready to go. This guy is being dubbed the Mathis “replacement” for when Robert decides to hang them up. Newsome has some work to do to get to that level but he laid a great foundation last season. If he continues the path he is one he could be a big steal from the 2014 NFL Draft, just like Mathis.
5. Khaled Holmes-OL
Holmes has been a player to watch at training camp and the preseason for two years now. He has all the ability but cannot seem to put everything together. He had a bad stretch of injuries but showed up well during the playoff run last season. I think he is the front runner for the starting position but Harrison will push to take that spot from him. I think the center position will be one of the most interesting camp battles this year. Holmes needs to pick up where he left off last season and continue to move forward. Luck needs stability in front of him and this is Holmes time to shine. I’m not asking him to be the next Jeff Saturday but I am wanting him to be solid enough for Luck to feel completely comfortable with who is snapping him the ball. I feel that if Holmes cannot hold onto the starting spot then it will be time for him to be traded or let go to make way for someone who is serious about their job.
6. Mike Adams-S
Adams turned in a great season last year and surprised everyone. He is considered an “old man” by NFL standards but played like a 24 year old veteran last year. The hope is that he can play like that again this season. Don’t be expecting the interception numbers from last season but do expect him to step up his run protection and still keep his ball hawking skills on point. Adams is getting older and like any other old NFL player his body will finally say enough. Vontae Davis is the leader of the “No Fly Zone” but Adams can be the inspiration for all of them to step up their game even more than they did last year. If the Colts restructured the defense to stop the run more often than they have in the past then the Colts secondary is going to get a workout every game. This season they are facing a lot of great quarterbacks. Adams is going to need to be ready to go every game and training camp is where that starts. If he slacks off at all this training camp then we may start seeing those beloved skills falling as well.
7. Henry Anderson-DL
Anderson is a beast. I want to start off by saying that. When the Colts took him I was very excited. He is fast and plays like Watt. He has a great motor and doesn’t quit until either the play is dead or he is dead. Anderson is a player that if brought along in the right way can be a mainstay here in Indy for years to come. He has the run stopping and pass rushing ability which the Colts front seven desperately need this year. He won’t be able to crack the starting lineup this year but he can definitely do enough to get snaps this season. I look at Anderson as this seasons Newsome. Someone who can and will do everything thing they can with whatever opportunity is given to them.
8. Eric Walden-OLB
I haven’t heard this or anything but Walden has to be a little pissed off that the Colts brought in Trent Cole. Why you ask? Because when Mathis does return, Cole will play opposite to hm. Walden will basically become a high paid back-up player. He had a good season last year. I have been highly critical of him since the Colts signed him and still I am not sold on him. I was glad to see Cole be brought in as insurance of someone we know can set the edge and get to the quarterback. Walden however will not go down without a fight. He will have his opportunity to make the coaches have to play him. For the first time since he arrived in Indy I am pulling for Walden to finally make that step into the player that Grigson and his scouts saw in him two years ago.
9. Phillip Dorsett-WR
Yes I know that everyone has been talking about him and probably many of you are tired of hearing about him. Dorsett has a lot on his shoulders this year. Almost every Colts fan is still seething that the Colts didn’t select a high end defensive talent with their first round pick and instead took Dorsett. There are a ton of questions surrounding why they did this still. The simplest answer is that the Colts now possess possibly the most potent passing offense in the NFL on paper. Dorsett provides the team with another speedster who can blow the top of defenses like Hilton can. I feel the Colts strategy this season for the offense to score so many points that the opposing offense has to pass the ball to keep up which plays into the strength of the Colts defense, their secondary. Dorsett still has a lot to prove and he could help himself tremendously showing what he can do in front of the hometown fans at training camp and in the preseason games. If he plays as well as we have heard reports say he can then I think the sting from this past draft will drift away quickly. If he cannot make an almost immediate impact then I think the fans will continue to hold the grudge.
10. Vick Ballard-RB
Ballard is all but forgotten by many fans, including myself. However he is still here and from everything we hear fully plans on taking training camp and the preseason by storm and showing the team and the fans that is can still be the player we all fell in love with in 2012. It’s a long shot for sure but if he succeeds then he will have earned the love back and the respect of the team. Ballard has some great talent ahead of him on the Colts depth chart but if he can find a way to secure of the top 53 roster spots by the end of camp and the preseason then he will have succeeded in my book. He will have to make sure every chance he gets he doesn’t waste any of them. Ballard is on the bubble for sure and if he doesn’t show anything at camp will probably be one of the first cuts unfortunately.
That is my list. How does it match up to yours? Let me know. You can follow me on Twitter @JustinTBF or you can leave a comment on here and I will respond. You can also e-mail me at Justin.firstname.lastname@example.org. Thanks everyone and I will see you in Anderson.