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Friday, July 12, 2024

Bridges: Questions galore for Colts

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I seem to recall what happened. If my memory serves me correctly, the last time we saw the Indianapolis Colts, they laid two weeks’ worth of eggs down the stretch and missed the playoffs in a totally embarrassing fashion.

Colts fans watch their team take on the Houston Texans on Oct. 17, 2021. (Recorder file photo)

That stench you can still smell from the finale against the hapless Jacksonville Jaguars was pinned on the since-traded Carson Wentz, and after Jim Irsay scolded his general manager and head coach, everyone at West 56th Street is now all in on the new season, which kicks off this weekend as the NFL preseason begins.

Everyone is undefeated in NFL training camp, and, generally speaking, unsubstantiated enthusiasm runs rampant, but here are five questions that are certainly worth examining when it come to the Colts.

What is a realistic expectation for the current offensive line, specifically the left tackle slot?

Is Matt Pryor truly a bona fide NFL starter? No. But he’s going to be the guy who trots out as No. 1 on the depth chart, and that’s a huge concern.

They drafted Bernard Raimann with the 75th pick in the draft, but he’s a project.

Combine that with whether Quenton Nelson, Ryan Kelly and Braden Smith can stay healthy and there are more questions than answers about this unit. The jury remains out.
Then there’s the wide receiver depth, or, more appropriately, the clear lack thereof.

Obviously, Michael Pittman Jr. is not a legit No. 1, and then it drops to Alec Pierce, who the Colts selected with the 53rd pick in the draft.

The Colts can’t be serious about Paris Campbell remaining healthy, so this position is without question one of uncertainty and remains a great concern.

Who is your edge rusher, you ask? That would be newly acquired Yannick Ngakove, who is backed up by Kwity Paye and Ben Banogu, and, coupled with All-Pro interior lineman DeForest Buckner, gives new defensive coordinator Gus Bradley some hope as opposed to a foundation for his player-specific scheme.

The defensive backfield is certainly another area to watch with concern as Kenny Moore Jr. campaigns for a contract extension. The Colts aren’t looking to extend him right now, and while he’s proficient, he’s not a lock-down corner.

Safety Julius Blackmon is young and talented, and while the Colts are hoping newly acquired Stephen Gilmore can return to his 2019 form, that’s a pipedream at this juncture.

Did l mention stud linebacker Darius Leonard, who now goes by Shaquille, will likely begin the season on the physically unable to perform list as a result of back surgery?

This is a tremendous blow to the defensive unit, and despite the optimistic projections, there is no definite timeline for his return to game action.

The Colts are certainly better at the quarterback position by virtue of how general manager Chris Ballard masterfully jettisoned Wentz to Washington, thereby getting out from underneath his ridiculous contract. He then acquired Hall of

Famer-to-be Matt Ryan from Atlanta for a third round draft pick.
Say what you want about Ballard, but that was a stellar set of moves in a relatively short period this offseason.

Ryan has been a remarkably durable player in his career, but at 37 years old, he will be forced to show what mobility he has left behind the aforementioned offensive line.

Notes: The Colts begin their preseason Aug. 13 when they visit the Buffalo Bills at 4 p.m. The game can be viewed locally on FOX 59 and NFL Network.

Colts owner Jim Irsay will showcase his incredible and eclectic collection of musical instruments and other iconic artifacts at Lucas Oil Stadium on Sept. 9. Tickets are free and include a live performance from his rather impressive band. Go to jimirsaycollection.com for info.

Danny Bridges, who still has hope that the Colts will give their loyal fan base something they can be proud of this season, can be reached at 317-370-8447 or at bridgeshd@aol.com.

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