Indianapolis Colts 2022 Training Camp Preview
The Indianapolis Colts had an interesting 2021 season. They started the season 1-4, but they hit a solid stride and found themselves at 9-7 heading into their regular-season, finally against the Jacksonville Jaguars. If the Colts won this game, they would have made the playoffs. But, they fell short and were sent home early. This caused the Colts to make some changes this off season. Indianapolis traded starting quarterback Carson Wentz to Washington and replaced him with Matt Ryan, who they acquired in a trade with Atlanta. Ryan will join a Colts offensive that is fueled by Jonathan Taylor and their outstanding running game. On the defensive side of the ball, the Colts have built a solid squad. In 2022, it will be playoffs or bust for the Colts. Here are some things to watch in training camp that may tell if the Colts can achieve their playoff goal.
3 Position Battles To Watch
Left Tackle: Matt Pryor, Bernhard Raimann, Dennis Kelly
Left tackle will be the most important position battle in Indianapolis. If the Colts want to continue to run the ball well, they will need to sure up this position. More importantly, with Matt Ryan at quarterback, his blind side needs to be protected as he does not have much mobility at 37.
The competitors for the starting left tackle job will be Matt Pryor, Bernhard Raimann, and Dennis Kelly. Pryor will be the favorite in this battle. Last season, he saw significant playing time in Indianapolis as he played several positions across the offensive line. This season, he could become the starter at left tackle. Nipping at Pryor’s heels is Bernard Raimann. Raimann was drafted by the Colts in the third round of the 2022 NFL Draft. It will be an uphill battle for Raimann to seal the starting job. In college, Raimann began his career as a tight end, but transitioned to tackle in 2020. While he is talented, his inexperience could prevent him from starting early in his career. Raimann seems like he will be given an opportunity, but do not be surprised if the Colts wait a season before putting him in the starting lineup.
Dennis Kelly probably will not play much of a factor. He is a good swing tackle who will likely serve as a backup. However, if things go astray, Kelly could make find his way to the starting lineup.
Safety: Rodney Mcleod, Julian Blackmon, Nick Cross
The safety position in Indianapolis is a question heading into the 2022 season. This off season, starter Khari Willis announced his retirement. That leaves Rodney Mcleod, Julian Blackmon, and Nick Cross as the leaders in the safety room. Mcleod is joining the Colts on a one-year deal after spending the last six seasons in Philadelphia. He will likely be a starter. However, he can play free and strong safety as well.
Cross and Blackmon are left to battle for the remaining starting spot. Cross is a more natural strong safety, while Blackmon is more of a free safety. Both of these guys have talent, but also have question marks. Blackmon looked really good in his rookie season in 2020. He started in 14 games, where he logged 2 intercepts and 42 tackles. In 2021, he started the first six games and looked even better. He logged 34 total tackles during this time. However, he tore his Achilles tendon, and now he is facing injury concerns. If Blackmon is fully healthy and back to his previous form, he will start.
If Blackmon takes a step back, the Colts will turn to Nick Cross. Cross is another third-round pick from the 2022 NFL Draft. He is a talented player who was productive at Maryland and showed out at the combine as he ran a 4.34 40-time. Cross will have an opportunity to find the field early. Even if Blackmon is healthy, Cross will be pushing for Mcleod’s job. He may not be able to get it in training camp, but he may earn the spot later in the season.
#3 Corner: Isaiah Rodgers, Brandon Facyson
The Colts have two established starting corners in Stephon Gilmore and Kenny Moore II. Ideally, one more corner needs to step up to help secure that position group. The two most likely candidates for that will be Isaiah Rodgers and Brandon Facyson. Rodgers and Facyson have both been backups for the majority of their careers and have not seen too many starts. Rodgers will be entering his third year with the Colts, while Facyson is the new face after spending the last four years with the Raiders and Chargers.
Facyson will have a head start in this battle. He is 6′ 2″ while Rodgers is 5′ 10″. The Colts are probably looking for a boundary option, as that would allow Moore II to play Nickel, which is a more natural fit for him. The four-inch height difference will play in Facyson’s favor, but Rodgers will have the job if he can outplay Facyson.
Ready To Breakout: Parris Campbell
Parris Campbell has yet to make a major impact on the NFL level. In three seasons, Campbell only played in 15 games. He did not provide much offensively, but was able to catch 34 passes for 360 yards and two touchdowns. In 2022, he should be able to be more productive, as long as he is healthy. The Colts may be a run-heavy offense, but they are desperately looking for another wide receiver to complement Michael Pittman. Campbell will be given an early opportunity to be that player.
Rookie To Watch: Alec Pierce
The Colts did not have a first-round pick in the 2022 NFL Draft, but they still made several selections. Second-round pick Alec Pierce seems to be the player that could make the biggest impact on this team. The previously mentioned Nick Cross and Bernard Raimann could make an impact, but they will have to win their position battles first. Pierce will play right out of the gate. Pittman and Campbell will be above him on the depth chart, but that should lead to Pierce getting some snaps in the slot. This will be beneficial as it projects a solid player in that role. Pierce may not be tremendous on day one, but he will look to make an impact on the Colts’ offense.
Fantasy Sleeper: Mo Alie-Cox
Finding fantasy value in the Colts’ players not named Jonathan Taylor or Michael Pittman will be a challenge. The Colts will likely lean on Taylor and Pittman is the clear number one receiver. The one sleeper that you can find value with is Mo Alie-Cox. Alie-Cox is the starting tight end in Indianapolis, and there is not much competition behind him. Alie-Cox is currently ranked around 30th at tight end. That is good value for the starting tight end in an offense. If Alie-Cox can get a handful of touchdowns this season, he will outplay his draft position.