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 at the tight end position heading into the 2020 Training Camp:
1. What will Trey Burton’s role look like for the Colts?
The Colts have used multiple tight end personnel packages a good amount under Frank Reich, and have been effective with it, as well.
For that to happen in 2020, Trey Burton will be playing a big role.
Frank Reich pointed out earlier this year that Burton’s presence will be needed, but how he is actually used won’t be the exact same as Eric Ebron.
At 6-2 and 238 pounds, Burton is built differently than Ebron (6-4, 253). While Burton might not be as much of a vertical presence in the pass game, he does offer much more blocking ability.
That is obviously enticing to Reich in being a bit more unpredictable when Burton is on the field, versus what Ebron offered.
Back in 2016-17, as Reich joined the Eagles staff as offensive coordinator, Burton emerged as a serious contributor for the Eagles.
Burton recovering from December hip surgery will be the biggest storyline to watch for him this camp.
STAT TO NOTE: Burton played in 8 games last season, but had just a total of 14 catches for 84 yards.
2. How important of a season is this for Mo Alie-Cox’s future?
It’s very big.
Let Frank Reich tell you:
“I think it’s a huge year for Mo,” Reich said earlier this summer.
Alie-Cox, 26, is in a contract year (he’s a restricted free agent in 2021).
The former basketball player is approaching a crossroads in his career of if he will take that big next step and become a future starter in the NFL, or if he will continue to be a fringe roster spot guy.
With Jack Doyle (30 years old) and Trey Burton (28 years old), it would be great for the Colts if Alie-Cox took that jump and became a key piece into the 2020s.
Burton’s injuries from last year means that Alie-Cox is still right in the mix from having an even bigger role for Frank Reich.
There have been flashes from Alie-Cox in the pass game, but he needs to become more consistent there, while still being a key blocker at 6-5 and 267 pounds.
Reich and the Colts remain very intrigued by Alie-Cox.
Chris Ballard is a big fan of his, and the staff liked the development seen in route running and footwork from last year.
Alie-Cox’s calling card is in the trenches though.
“Sometimes you might think the basketball player is a finesse guy,” Reich says. “Mo is not a finesse guy. He’s a powerful man. He brings an element of what a ‘Y’ tight end brings (with) strength at the point of attack. For us to run the ball, like we want to run the ball this year, I envision Mo is going to play a big role in that. He’s going to get more playing time than he did last year.”
STAT TO NOTE: After averaging 19.0 yards per catch in 2018, Alie-Cox averaged 11.6 yards per reception last season.
3. Will Roosevelt Nix impact the final numbers at tight end?
No one is expecting Nix to line up as an in-line blocker in 2020.
But it is a numbers game in compiling a 53-man roster and who dresses on game day.
Does that mean the Colts will not have room (or the need) for a 4th tight end?
Under Frank Reich, the Colts have often carried 4 tight ends on their 53-man roster, but now you are factoring in a fullback into the equation.
Does that leave room for a 4th running back, a 6th wide receiver, a 4th tight end?
Nix has a strong history on special teams, so that will aid him in having that game day role away from just on offense.
STAT TO NOTE: Nix has touched the ball 16 times (12 catches and 4 carries) in 60 career games.