INDIANAPOLIS COLTS (7-9)
CAMP SITE: Indianapolis
LAST YEAR: Andrew Luck’s shocking August retirement announcement created huge void for Colts. Yes, QB Jacoby Brissett started well but wasn’t same after returning from left knee injury, and rash of injuries left him with severely depleted receiving corps. Combination made Indy’s offense too predictable, and Adam Vinaiteri’s kicking struggles also hurt. While defense made strides, Indy still posted second losing record in three years and missed playoffs for fourth time in five years.
IMPORTANT ADDITIONS: QB Philip Rivers, DT DeForest Buckner, WR Michael Pittman Jr., CB Xavier Rhodes, RB Jonathan Taylor, DT Sheldon Day, S T.J. Carrie, TE Trey Burton, FB Roosevelt Nix, S Julian Blackmon, QB Jacob Eason.
IMPORTANT LOSSES: DE Jabaal Sheard, K Adam Vinatieri, CB Pierre Desir, TE Eric Ebron, WR Devin Funchess, S Clayton Geathers, OL Joe Haeg.
PANDEMIC CHALLENGES: After spending first 16 seasons with Chargers, Rivers hasn’t had much time to work through coach Frank Reich’s offense or with new receiving cast. Colts also must determine how to split carries between 1,000-yard rusher Marlon Mack and Taylor, one of college football’s top runners last three seasons.
CAMP NEEDS: Rivers needs to show coaches and new teammates last season’s interception woes were aberration — not new normal at age 38. Pro Bowl WR T.Y. Hilton, who turns 31 in November, must demonstrate he can stay healthy and productive after two straight injury-marred seasons. Colts need 6-foot-4, 223-pound Pittman to use size as advantage. While GM Chris Ballard filled huge need by trading for Buckner, he’s hoping offseason upgrades in secondary and on special teams pay off. But biggest question may be whether Colts bring back unsigned Vinatieri or find successor.
EXPECTATIONS: Colts already have one of league’s best offensive lines, strong ground game and improved front seven on defense. If Rivers returns to form, Colts and Titans could be top teams in AFC South.
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