INDIANAPOLIS – In just one month, the Colts will take to the fields at Grand Park in Westfield to kick off training camp for 2021. Here are the top five storylines for the franchise as the season approaches.
NUMBER FIVE – WHAT IMPACT WILL COVID HAVE?
The NFL has outlined two different sets of rules for players this preseason. The fully vaccinated get to basically return to normal – but those choosing not to be vaccinated have to follow a laundry list of restrictions, from daily testing and masks to not being allowed on the team charter on road games.
Chris Ballard told us this month the Colts won’t force players to be vaccinated, and the team will deal with whatever situations arise, just like it did last year.
NUMBER FOUR – WILL KWITY PAYE BE A STARTER FROM DAY ONE?
The Colts top draft pick in 2021 comes to town with big shoes to fill, as both starting defensive ends last year, Justin Houston and Denico Autry, are no longer on the roster.
Competition remains, with Kemoko Turay, Tyquan Lewis, Ben Banogu and others, but we’ve seen rookies have an immediate impact in training camp before – Darius Leonard comes to mind.
Is Paye the next to make his mark?
NUMBER THREE – CAN RODRIGO BLANKENSHIP TAKE THE NEXT STEP?
I won’t discount Hot Rod’s solid rookie season, but when so many weeks in the NFL come down to one score – and some distance issues were present with him – and he dorfed a short field goal like this in the playoffs – in a game ultimately lost by three points?
Leaves a rotten taste in the mouth all offseason.
The Colts added veteran kicker Eddy Pineiro to their roster, probably not to usurp the position, but kickers can win and lose games in the NFL. To be fair, Blankenship did win one against the Packers – but can he be better in 2021?
NUMBER TWO – WHEN WILL ERIC FISHER BE READY TO PLAY?
The Colts signed Fisher hoping the answer is sooner rather than later, but the reigning Pro Bowl left tackle tore an Achilles tendon in late January.
If he’s on the field working out at Grand Park, it’s more likely he’ll be one-on-one with a trainer, at least to start camp, than mixing it up in the trenches.
But the sooner he makes it into group practice, the fewer games he’ll miss as Carson Wentz’s blind side protector.
NUMBER ONE – WILL CARSON WENTZ RETURN TO FORM?
The season hinges on this question. If the answer is no, the Colts wasted a third and likely a first round pick trying to rekindle the Frank Reich magic that helped Wentz to an MVP-caliber 2017.
If the answer is yes, then the team should be a contender in the AFC.
Chris Ballard has said, starting quarterback is just one spot on the 53-man roster, but we’ll say, it’s the most important spot if the Colts hope to achieve their goals in 2021.