The Indianapolis Colts now have 12 days of training camp down after Wednesday’s light session.
There have been many storylines surrounding this Colts camp. While most of the talk has involved injuries to key players, the competition on the field has been fierce as well.
Before camp began, I gave five camp battles to watch as the Colts settled in at Grand Park Sports Complex. With the Carolina Panthers arriving Thursday for two joint practices with the Colts, let’s take a look at those battles to see who the current favorites are.
Backup (Starting?) Quarterback
When previewing these battles, this competition was strictly for the backup quarterback position. But with Carson Wentz’s status up in the air for Week One after having surgery on his left foot, Jacob Eason and Sam Ehlinger very well could be battling for the starting role early in the season.
The early favorite was Eason, as he had taken all of the starting reps for the first eight practices Wentz was out. Eason has been inconsistent so far, having both good days and bad against the Colts’ starting defense. The biggest thing for him will be to stack good days on top of one another and show consistent improvement as we close in on the regular season.
With Eason struggling some, Ehlinger has certainly made the competition interesting. He’s had success against the second-team defense of the Colts, earning the right to split first-team reps in the eyes of the coaching staff. Ehlinger has been up and down since playing with the starters but looks to improve the more reps he is given.
Eason still leads this competition for now. According to head coach Frank Reich, Eason will start the game on Sunday against the Panthers with Ehlinger relieving him sometime in the second quarter. If Eason does not show more consistency and improvement, and Ehlinger shows promise against the starters, the rookie out of Texas may just take the job.
The third cornerback position has been held by Rock Ya-Sin for the past two seasons. Ya-Sin has been playing with the starters for a good portion of camp, but as the Colts released their first unofficial depth chart on Tuesday there was a new name at starting outside corner.
T.J. Carrie started training camp on the Reserve/COVID-19 list but has been a constant with the first-team defense since he returned. Carrie relieved Ya-Sin during the year last season when Ya-Sin struggled and has picked up where he left off with his stellar play in camp.
This battle looks to be coming down to Carrie and Ya-Sin. Marvel Tell III and Isaiah Rodgers, who were thought to compete for this spot, have not done anything of note in camp to put them in the conversation. Their play in the preseason games will be a big determinant in who starts Week One.
Starting Left Tackle
The Colts have given all of the left tackle options on their roster a chance to prove they deserve to start until Eric Fisher returns from his Achilles injury. The results have been less than stellar so far.
Sam Tevi was thought to be the favorite to start but has not had a very good training camp. Young pass rushers Kwity Paye and Kemoko Turay have had great success against Tevi in practice, causing lots of pressures and would-be sacks on the quarterbacks. Not to discredit the pass rushers as they have had great camps, but Tevi will be facing players superior to Paye and Turay in those weeks that Fisher is out.
The top option so far has been Will Holden. Holden has not been spectacular, but has performed better than Tevi so far and is currently listed as the starter on the Colts’ unofficial depth chart. While there are some concerns about his ability to move and defend speed rushers, he has held up the best out of the tackles and was serviceable against the Pittsburgh Steelers last year in his only action for the Colts
Holden and Tevi are the clear favorites for the interim starting position at left tackle. Julién Davenport, who recently came off the Reserve/COVID-19 list himself, has been a nonfactor and sits in third. This spot is still very much up for grabs and is begging for someone to step up and perform well.
Wide Receiver Depth
As camp began, the expectation was the likes of Ashton Dulin, Dezmon Patmon, and Mike Strachan would be battling for the final two wide receiver spots on the Colts’ roster.
The guy that has stood out the most, and may be considered a lock for WR5 at this point, is Strachan. It seems like Strachan is making a highlight play every practice, and his height/weight/speed combination has been a difficult challenge for the Colts’ defensive backs. From winning in one-on-one situations to acrobatic catches, Strachan is rising above the rest.
For Dulin and Patmon, their camps have left much to be desired. Dulin has been out for much of camp with a hamstring injury and has not been able to show his worth on the field. Patmon has had a very quiet camp overall but has started to make more noise the last couple of days hauling in deep balls from Eason.
With Strachan looking like a sure bet for WR5, Dulin would probably get the nod over Patmon at this point due to his special teams ability. Dulin is one of the top gunners on the Colts while Patmon does not play special teams, a must when fighting for a fringe roster spot.
Both Rodrigo Blankenship and Eddy Pineiro have had limited chances to prove themselves in camp. When the two kickers have gone head-to-head, they have been a perfect 10-of-10.
This bodes well for Blankenship as the incumbent, as he has shown nothing to indicate he should lose his spot. One of the biggest knocks on Hot Rod has been his leg strength and his ability to make long kicks. He has come into training camp in better shape and with more muscle, showing in practice that he can hit from 60+ yards out.
It will be interesting to watch how the competition continues during the preseason games, but Blankenship has a firm hold on the kicking job at this point in camp.
Have thoughts on how training camp battles are playing out so far in Westfield for the Indianapolis Colts? Drop a line in the comments section below letting us know how you feel!
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