WESTFIELD, Ind. -- How are things shaping up for the Indianapolis Colts this season?
Host Chris Hagan welcomed running back Marlon Mack and IndyStar's Zak Keefer to Colts Camp Live for some answers.
The Colts are gearing up for their preseason opener against the Seattle Seahawks (kickoff at 10 p.m. on FOX59 and FOX59.com in the Indianapolis market), the first time players will have the chance to go up against another team. It will be the first time Andrew Luck has suited up for a game since January 2017.
Keefer thinks Luck will play two to four series (between 10 and 15 snaps).
"It's another huge step for Andrew Luck. His first NFL game in 18 months. The last time he played was January 1, 2017. So much has changed since then with this organization and with him. The continuing good news on the Andrew Luck front: he's out here every day, he takes his scheduled day off, he's throwing well and he continues to stack good day after good day," Keefer said.
In practice, Luck wears a red jersey and doesn't take any hits. That will change Thursday against the Seahawks, and Hagan said it's important for Luck to take a hit, get back up and get back in the huddle.
"It's another box he needs to check off," Keefer said. "But I think this is a big one more so for the fanbase to see him get back up after he gets hit--which he probably will--and if he does, he's just that much closer to being ready to go for September 9."
Keefer and Hagan discussed Luck's playing time. While head coach Frank Reich thinks Luck needs to play quite a bit because he's missed so much time, the team has to balance that with the possibility of risking injury.
Keefer says he'll look closely at the the wide receiver position while Hagan is intrigued by what he'll see from the Colts' revamped defense. The team is transitioning from a 3-4 look under Chuck Pagano to a 4-3 Tampa-2 under defensive coordinator Matt Eberflus. Keefer will be watching several of the young players closely to see how they react in a game-like situation. He's most concerned about the secondary, which has a lot of youth while key players are recovering from injury.
Both will also pay close attention to the running back position, which features second-year back Marlon Mack along with rookies Nyheim Hines and Jordan Wilkins.
Mack said he and the other players are eagerly anticipating their first game action of the year. Last year as a rookie, he had the chance to spend time under veteran running back Frank Gore, who left as a free agent. Now, he's at the top of the depth chart and working to help the rookies.
"There's no pressure at all," Mack said when asked about expectations, including those from owner Jim Irsay, who floated the 1,500-yard number for Mack. "You just got to take that excitement. You gotta know you've got support out there with you and you've gotta go out there and put the work in."
Mack knows it's about consistency, preparation and execution. He'll work hard this season to avoid negative plays, saying he's watched a lot of film to prevent those.
How much has he been asked about Andrew Luck?
"A bunch," he said with a laugh. "A bunch."
It's really Mack's first chance to work with Luck, who missed all of Mack's rookie season with a shoulder injury. He admits it's a lot different to have him out there at quarterback. Mack himself is recovering from offseason shoulder surgery for an injury that affected him last season.
Mack has big shoes to fill with Gore's departure. As for the 1,500-yard mark Irsay threw out there, Keefer said it was time to hit the brakes a little bit on that and get Mack thinking about 1,000 yards first. He has noticed Mack's been running stronger at the line of scrimmage during camp. Strong inside running from Mack would give the offense a big boost. He'll also need to work on pass protection and blitz pick-ups.
Keefer says the Colts will have a successful season if Luck is healthy and able to start all 16 games. He believes the defense still has "a ways to go" but will improve during the season as the unit gets more experience and some of the vital pieces (Malik Hooker, Clayton Geathers) get healthy. He thinks the team could be good for 7 to 9 wins.
Here's the full schedule for the webcast, which you can find on CBS4Indy.com, IndyStar.com and CBS4's Facebook and Twitter pages:
- Thursday, July 26 with cornerback Pierre Desir and IndyStar’s Stephen Holder
- Friday, July 27 with receiver Ryan Grant and IndyStar's Zak Keefer
- Tuesday, July 31 with linebacker Najee Goode and IndyStar's Zak Keefer
- Wednesday, August 1 with safety Matthias Farley and IndyStar's Stephen Holder
- Thursday, August 2 with defensive end Tarell Basham and IndyStar's Zak Keefer
- Monday, August 6 with running back Marlon Mack and IndyStar's Zak Keefer
- Tuesday, August 7