INDIANAPOLIS – The NFL continues to operate business as usual here in the 2020 offseason, with training camps on the horizon.
If everything does begin on time for camps, the Colts will start theirs on July 28th (veterans report day). This year’s camp will take place at the Indiana Farm Bureau Football Center, with the NFL mandating teams stay home for camp due to COVID-19.
With the on-field portion of the spring not happening this season, training camp will be the only time this offseason for players to make an impression on the staff.
It’s time to pick back up our ‘burning questions’ series on 1075TheFan.com.
Here are our burning questions in the secondary heading into the 2020 Training Camp:
1. What type of season is expected from Malik Hooker?
Talk about a little added drama to Malik Hooker’s 4th NFL season.
Hooker is now playing in a contract year, after the Colts surprisingly declined his 5th year team option.
While Hooker’s future is very much in doubt, his 2020 role appears to be pretty locked in.
With Clayton Geathers gone, Hooker is now the veteran of the safety group and should still start next to Khari Willis.
Even with missing 3 games last year, Hooker played 168 more snaps than the next safety on the roster (Willis).
For Hooker’s sake, and the Colts’ sake, they could use a playmaking filled season from their 2017 first-round pick.
Watching how Hooker handles this season will be fascinating.
STAT TO NOTE: Since entering the NFL in 2017, Malik Hooker has recorded an interception 7 times in 34 games. During that time, Hooker’s INT rate of 1 pick every 4.86 games ranks 8th among all NFL safeties.
2. Who joins Kenny Moore as the Colts cornerbacks?
We know Kenny Moore is a lock to start, both in the base defense and in the nickel package.
But who else joins Moore?
Will it be Xavier Rhodes or Rock Ya-Sin in the base, as the other outside corner?
And then in the nickel, when three cornerbacks are on the field, will it be Rhodes and Ya-Sin joining Moore? Could Marvell Tell challenge for an outside corner job?
That will be a fun competition to watch play out during camp and the preseason.
Ya-Sin and Tell had some ups and downs as rookies, but the staff is intrigued by their future.
The Colts really believe they can help Rhodes get back to the higher level of play we saw in previous seasons, and not the corner who struggled mightily last year.
Moore should not come off the field.
But the Colts will have a battle to see which of the longer corners join him.
STAT TO NOTE: The Colts have allowed at least 70 percent completion percentage in back-to-back seasons. No other team in NFL history has allowed that.
3. Will any secondary member join Kenny Moore as a high-level player?
Even if the resume doesn’t say it, Kenny Moore has played at a Pro Bowl level over the last two seasons.
He’s a vital piece to the Colts playing acceptable pass defense.
But the Colts have struggled under Matt Eberflus in keeping opposing quarterbacks from settling into a nice rhythm.
For the Colts to get improvement from their pass defense, and create more turnovers (a big focus for Chris Ballard exiting 2019), they need to see another guy or two join Moore as a upper-echelon player.
That means Rock Ya-Sin, Xavier Rhodes, Marvell Tell, Malik Hooker, Khari Willis, Julian Blackmon (when he gets healthy) taking a jump here in 2020.
A more consistent pass rush up front, which is the expectation this fall, should aid the secondary.
Now, it’s time for another individual or two to become a definite building piece moving forward, as the Colts try to keep up in the pass happy NFL.
STAT TO NOTE: The Colts finished last season ranked 8th in interception rate (2.67%).