7 Takeaways From Colts Spring Offseason Program
7 Takeaways From Colts Spring Offseason Program
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INDIANAPOLIS – Summer vacation has begun for the Indianapolis Colts.
For the last two months, the Colts have gathered for their offseason program, which just ended after around a dozen full-team practice sessions.
While the full pads won’t come on until Training Camp in late July, there’s still some developments that came out of the spring.
Here are 7 takeaways from the Colts offseason program:
1. Andrew Luck Misses Entire Spring
For the third straight spring, Andrew Luck did not participate in OTAs or the team’s mini-camp.
Unlike previous years, the expectation was Luck would be fully healthy and participating for the offseason program.
But a calf injury for Luck earlier this spring had the Colts extra cautious in keeping him away from the practice field. Luck says he will be ready for the start of Training Camp and has still done some throwing this spring.
Individually, Luck showed last year that spring participation wasn’t necessary for him to still have a Pro Bowl caliber season.
Still, his absence in the 2019 spring wasn’t ideal for an offense that is incorporating some new names at the receiver position.
2. Missed Opportunity For Devin Funchess
When you return 21 of 22 starters, after making the Divisional Round of the Playoffs, it’s not likely to see a ton of offensive turnover.
But the arrival of Devin Funchess meant he would fill the playing time we saw at the No. 2 receiver spot from Ryan Grant and Dontrelle Inman last year.
Unfortunately for Funchess, Luck’s absence meant the young wideout didn’t get to receive any throwing work with his starting QB in the spring. This is particular notable because Funchess had a very high drop rate in Carolina last year.
In the handful of open periods granted to the media this spring, Funchess and Jacoby Brissett struggled to establish a consistent rapport. That didn't seem to bother Frank Reich, who praised the aptitude and route running of Funchess following the end of mini-camp.
Funchess, with a one-year, $10 million contract in hand, must change that for the Colts to achieve their lofty goals.
3. Better Balance Across Units
Can you make hard-core evaluations from the spring offseason program?
Of course not.
But you can observe trends and start to get an idea of a team’s makeup heading into Training Camp.
A clear takeaway from watching the Colts this spring is the balance in talent throughout position groups on each side of the ball.
There’s not a glaring weakness in terms of one particular position group, or a major drop off from the deepest spot on the team to the other end of that spectrum.
This is so vital in a matchup-driven league where teams enter each week looking to expose your glaring weaknesses.
Yes, certain spots are deeper than others, but the Colts don’t enter camp without some bold-faced question at a specific position group.
4. Colts Love Early Impressions From Justin Houston
Even without full pads donned during the spring, Justin Houston was a name Frank Reich brought up on several occasions. Houston was still making his presence felt, which is difficult for defensive linemen to do this time of year.
It was pretty impressive just to see Houston, 30, fully participating in the spring.
That’s not a given for veterans, especially one who has battled injuries, like Houston has in the past few years.
With Jabaal Sheard sitting out the vast majority of the spring, it was Houston and Al-Quadin Muhammad consistently as the starting defensive ends.
5. Malik Hooker Finally Experiences Spring Offseason Program
Around a half dozen key names sat out a huge chunk of the spring for the Colts: QB-Andrew Luck, TE-Eric Ebron, TE-Jack Doyle, DE-Jabaal Sheard, LB-Darius Leonard and S-Clayton Geathers.
But one very important player, who has never participated in the spring, was out there running around.
Malik Hooker took part in the offseason program, after missing the last two springs with various injuries, and caught the eye of his head coach.
Hooker, who missed the Divisional Round loss to the Chiefs with a foot injury, is pretty bullish on his third NFL season with the Colts.
6. Ben Banogu To Defensive End (For Now)
The TCU defender initially worked at linebacker during rookie mini-camp, but that experiment has halted a bit.
Banogu’s intriguing role as a SAM linebacker has quieted, for now. Banogu was a defensive end, his college position, for the final month of the spring.
On Wednesday, Banogu mentioned that working out of a 3-point stance in the NFL and attacking on the snap, compared to a 2-point stance and having to read/react, is a difference from his D-end duties at TCU.
Will the Colts try and re-explore that hybrid DE/LB role for Banogu in camp?
What the Colts end up deciding on Banogu’s route for 2019 will definitely impact how the playing time plays out, and the domino effect with roster crunching along the defensive line and also at linebacker.
7. Do Not Expect Many, If Any, Rookie Starters?
Going into the spring, the thought was around 2-3 rookies might earn starting type roles in 2019.
That number might be more in the 1-2 range after the spring offseason program.
We mentioned above the change of plans for Banogu where his playing time might be relegated more to passing downs in 2019.
WR-Parris Campbell missed some time in the spring, but still should be in the mix for No. 3 wide receiver playing time/touches as a rookie.
CB-Rock Ya-Sin made some plays in the spring, but it was mostly against reserves. For now, Ya-Sin remains out of the Colts’ nickel or dime package looks, when everyone is healthy. Ya-Sin and Quincy Wilson competing to round out the nickel personnel package is probably a camp battle coming.
While LB-Bobby Okereke snuck into some passing down personnel groupings late in the spring,
S-Khari Willis is still a little further down on the depth chart for him to see definite playing time in Year One.
Things can change in a hurry during Training Camp. But there are no sure-fire answers from this rookie class in terms of starting jobs.