Week One is finally upon us.
The NFL regular season kicks off on Thursday night and the anticipation to see professional football games that actually matter is off the charts.
For the Indianapolis Colts, the start of the 2021 season begins Sunday at Lucas Oil Stadium against the Seattle Seahawks.
Many storylines are surrounding this team as the season gets underway, including who exactly we will be seeing at key positions throughout the year.
The Colts released their unofficial depth chart for Week One on Monday, giving us a look at who those players will be. Let’s take a look to see what stands out with Russell Wilson and the Seahawks coming to town.
QB – Carson Wentz, Jacob Eason
RB – Jonathan Taylor, Nyheim Hines, Marlon Mack, Jordan Wilkins
WR – Parris Campbell, Mike Strachan
WR – Zach Pascal
WR – Michael Pittman Jr., Ashton Dulin
TE – Jack Doyle
TE – Mo Alie-Cox, Kylen Granson
LT – Eric Fisher, Julién Davenport
LG – Quenton Nelson, Chris Reed
C – Ryan Kelly, Danny Pinter
RG – Mark Glowinski, Will Fries
RT – Braden Smith, Matt Pryor
Analysis: For all the drama surrounding Carson Wentz throughout training camp and the preseason, it looks like he is on track to start the season under center for the Colts. His surgically repaired foot has responded very well since Wentz returned to practice a couple of weeks ago, and he has been itching to get back out on the field. If all goes well at Wednesday’s practice and Wentz can be a full participant, he’ll be good to go for Sunday.
A small change in the depth chart comes at the running back position. While Jonathan Taylor is the unquestioned starter and looks to be the workhorse this year, Nyheim Hines has overtaken Marlon Mack as the backup. Hines is a focal part of the Colts’ offense, and head coach Frank Reich wants to make sure he gets the ball in his playmaker’s hands. It is yet to be seen how much work Mack will get this season.
The wide receiver group for the Colts is dealing with a few injuries right now, causing the depth chart to look a little different than what we expected. With T.Y. Hilton placed on injured reserve after neck surgery last week, Parris Campbell enters the starting lineup as the other outside receiver opposite Michael Pittman Jr. with Zach Pascal in the slot. The Colts love to move their receivers all around the formation, so don’t look too much into their specific alignments. However, it does look like Campbell will take over Hilton’s role until “The Ghost” can return.
The tight end group shows no surprises, with the always reliable Jack Doyle as TE1. Mo Alie-Cox will look to help as a blocker and as a threat in the passing game. The name to watch is Kylen Granson, as the Colts will use him as a mismatch weapon in the passing game to make plays downfield.
The Colts also return one of the best offensive lines in football when fully healthy. Quenton Nelson, Ryan Kelly, Mark Glowinski, and Braden Smith all look to start the season and pick up where they left off last year.
The biggest question along the offensive line is when will left tackle Eric Fisher return from his Achilles injury? The Colts feel like he is very close, and Fisher may have even had a chance to start this week if not for a recent stint on the Reserve/COVID-19 list. But it looks like Julién Davenport will more than likely start on Sunday with Fisher returning in the next couple of weeks.
LDE – Al-Quadin Muhammed, Tyquan Lewis, Isaac Rochell
RDE – Kwity Paye, Kemoko Turay, Ben Banogu
DT – DeForest Buckner, Chris Williams
NT – Grover Stewart, Taylor Stallworth
WILL – Darius Leonard, E.J. Speed, Jordan Glasgow
MIKE – Bobby Okereke
SAM – Zaire Franklin, Matthew Adams
LCB – Rock Ya-Sin, Isaiah Rodgers, Chris Wilcox
RCB – Xavier Rhodes, BoPete Keyes
NCB – Kenny Moore II, T.J. Carrie
FS – Julian Blackmon, T.J. Carrie
SS – Khari Willis, George Odum
Analysis: It’s no surprise that Kwity Paye is the starter at right defensive end. The first-round rookie has been fantastic throughout camp and looks to show he can be a franchise cornerstone for the Colts.
What is a little surprising is Al-Quadin Muhammad getting the starting nod over Tyquan Lewis. While Lewis has been nursing a shoulder injury the last couple of weeks, Muhammad has been taking reps with the starters and held his own. The Colts use a rotation approach along the defensive line, so this does not mean Muhammad will be out there all the time. Instead, expect Muhammad to be out there in base formations and obvious running situations while giving way to some of the other ends on passing downs.
There are no surprises at the defensive tackle spots with DeForest Buckner and Grover Stewart. Buckner has Defensive Player of the Year aspirations, while Stewart looks to make a case for his first Pro Bowl.
The linebacker spots also lend no surprises. Darius Leonard and Bobby Okereke are three-down backers with elite talent who can cover sideline-to-sideline. Zaire Franklin gets the nod at SAM and will provide some extra thump when the Colts are in their base 4-3 scheme.
While we knew Xavier Rhodes and Kenny Moore II would be two of the starters at cornerback, the other cornerback spot goes to Rock Ya-Sin…for now. Ya-Sin had his moments in camp where he shined but had some head-scratching moments as well. Consistency has been the problem for Ya-Sin his whole career, and he will need to prove he can be relied upon if he wants to stay the starter
Ya-Sin was battling with T.J. Carrie most of the preseason for the last starting cornerback spot. Returning from a shoulder injury he received in the preseason, Carrie will start the season as a versatile backup option for the Colts as both the backup nickel cornerback and backup free safety.
The Colts love their young safety tandem in Julian Blackmon and Khari Willis and believe they can be anchors on the backend for years to come. If either goes down because of injury and with the Colts only having three safeties, look for Carrie to fill in.
P – Rigoberto Sanchez
PK – Rodrigo Blankenship
H – Rigoberto Sanchez
LS – Luke Rhodes
KR – Isaiah Rodgers, Ashton Dulin
PR – Nyheim Hines, Isaiah Rodgers
Analysis: The specialists all remain the same from a year ago. Rodrigo Blankenship, Rigoberto Sanchez, and Luke Rhodes give the Colts a very stout, young trio in the kicking game. Blankenship still has yet to miss a kick since training camp began in August and has added some leg strength in the offseason. Sanchez has made a recovered fully from his cancer scare last year and could be in the Pro Bowl conversation at punter.
The Colts possess a couple of dangerous returners in Isaiah Rodgers and Nyheim Hines. Rodgers returned a kickoff for a touchdown in his rookie season and has blazing speed to break a return open at any time. The same can be said about Hines, who is one of the most electric punt return men in the NFL.
What do you think about the initial depth chart? Drop a line in the comments section below letting us know how you feel!
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