With training camp now in full swing and the first game this week against the St. Louis Rams, let's take a look at one burning question for some big-name guys on the Colts. It's hard to predict the 53-man roster at this point, so I took the 44 guys I feel confident that will make the roster or have some big questions for them entering the season.
Obviously, narrowing down to just one question for some guys were difficult, but here's the one burning question for each member of the 2012 Indianapolis Colts.
QB-12 Andrew Luck: Can He Live Up to Fans' Expectations?
Many people have Andrew Luck as the next best quarterback. People are already anointing him the next Peyton Manning. The problem is the kid is only 22 years old and enters with a ton of pressure. The whole city and franchise is on his shoulders.
Fans expect him to come in and win right away. They want six to nine wins this year and expect it. I think it’s going to be a project, but will fans be patient?
QB-8 Chandler Harnish: Will Colts Keep “Mr. Irrelevant” Around?
The question the past decade has been do the Colts keep three quarterbacks on the roster? With mortgaging the franchise on Peyton Manning and him taking all the reps, it didn’t make any sense.
Now, with Andrew Luck in, does it make any sense to keep a third-string Chandler Harnish? Unless an unforeseen injury happens, keeping Harnish takes a roster spot away from another position needed.
QB-5 Drew Stanton: Can He Learn Enough to be the Best Backup We’ve Had Here?
The Colts need to learn from mistakes the previous regime made. They never let backups learn the system and take snaps behind Manning. It came back and haunted them last season.
With Luck obviously learning and needing time to develop, they need Stanton to be right there with him. Obviously, Luck is the franchise and future, but if something happens, we need a backup ready to go. I don’t want to go through what we went through last year.
They have a chance to be smart early.
RB-31 Donald Brown: Can Brown be a No. 1 Running Back in the NFL?
Brown is listed as the No. 1 running back on the depth chart. He’s had issues in the past few seasons for durability and effort. Brown isn’t big enough to break many tackles and struggles to pick up blitzes. He will be watched with a microscope this year.
RB-34 Delone Carter: Is Carter Finally Over Putting the Ball on the Turf?
Carter was pretty effective last season as a rookie. He is a big strong running back with a ton of upside. His only problem last year as fumbling too much. Hope we worked on this over the offseason. If so, he could be a No. 1 soon.
RB-26 Mwelde Moore: How Much Does He Have Left in the Tank?
Mwelde Moore has had a long career in Pittsburgh. He helped in short yardage there, but can he do the same in Indy?
Moore, is old and banged up and doesn’t have much upside. They drafted Vick Ballard to do what Moore is expected to do. The question is can Moore do it? I don’t think so.
RB-33 Vick Ballard: How Many Carries Will Ballard See This Season?
Vick Ballard can be a very good running back in the NFL. He's quick enough to gain big yardage, but big enough to break tackles. The problem is the Colts have Donald Brown, Delone Carter, and Mwelde Moore in the backfield as well. I'm curious how many times Ballard will even be in the game let alone how many carries he will actually get. If everyone stays healthy, I don't see much production out of him this season.
WR-87 Reggie Wayne: Can He Be Dependable and Put Up Big Numbers?
Andrew Luck and the city of Indianapolis is leaning on Reggie Wayne to be our scape goat and put up clutch numbers like he always has. The problem is Reggie is getting older and usually veteran receivers stats decline each year.
Wayne has never been the fastest guy and he's slowing down year by year. Will Wayne be a that veteran that puts up big numbers like the Colts fans expect?
Luck is going to go to Wayne a lot. Can he product is the biggest question? If so, the Colts will be alright.
WR-11 Donnie Avery: What Kind of Role Will Avery Play on This Team?
Donnie Avery will definitely be a part of the 53-man roster when the season starts. He should garner some big playing time.
What we don't know is what kind of role will he have. Right now he's lined up in the slot, but I think he will end up playing on the outside to Luck's left.
Avery will need to stay healthy as he's been very injury-prone during his career. His role will be very wide-open with Reggie Wayne, Austin Collie and Coby Fleener all getting majority of the balls thrown their way. If he can be a good route-runner and catch everything thrown his way, he can fit in very solidly.
WR-15 LaVon Brazil: Will He Make the Opening Day Roster?
Rookie LaVon Brazil is deserving of a roster spot. I think he will make it, but the bigger question is how many receivers will the Colts hold on a game-day roster? They will run a two-tight end system. Mix in five offensive linemen, a quarterback and running back, and that leaves only two wide receiver spots on plays with sometimes three.
We know Reggie Wayne, Austin Collie, Donnie Avery and T.Y. Hilton will have a spot. The Colts also have Quan Cosby on the roster. I don't see Cosby and Brazil both making the final 53-man roster. One has to go.
WR-17 Austin Collie: Can He Return to Form Prior to the Concussions?
Prior to Collie’s two concussions, he was one of the best receivers in the league. He was Manning’s go-to target and very reliable. Last year was his first full season back from the concussions and he had a down year. We don’t know yet whether it was the quarterback issues or he's lost it. We will find out this year.
WR-13 T.Y. Hilton: Will He Be the Best Returner the Colts Ever Had?
T.Y. Hilton is the fastest guy on the team. He ran a 4.24 40-yard dash and is a threat in the slot. Where he will make his due is on the return game. Hilton can get the Colts field position, which will be key in games that are so close and the Colts should have a lot of them this year.
Hilton, can make a big difference this year on the roster.
WR-14 Quan Cosby: Will He Make the Colts’ Opening Day Roster?
Cosby falls into the same category as Brazil at the receiver spot. Both will be fighting hard for the last few spots on the roster. Can Cosby prove enough in the preseason of his worth?
TE-80 Coby Fleener: Will He Live Up to Potential and Be the Best Tight End in the League?
It shouldn’t be long before Fleener is the next big thing. Fleener has bigger and better hands than Rob Gronkowski and Jimmy Graham. He also has a better vertical than Gronkowski.
With being a teammate to Luck through college and having he physical abilities on his side, he can be the best ever. Will he live up to that though?
TE-83 Dwayne Allen: Can He Amount to a Big Threat That Will Give The Colts a Rob Gronkowski/Aaron Hernandez Type of Dual Tight-End Set?
I think Allen can be that guy. Coby Fleener will garner a lot of attention on the other side, and if Allen can not only be a great blocking tight end, but also a good route-runner, the Colts will be very explosive in a couple of years.
T-74 Anthony Castonzo: Can Castonzo Be the Next Big Offensive Tackle?
The Colts invested in Castonzo to be the next big offensive lineman. He was originally drafted to protect Peyton Manning’s blind side, but now he will be protecting Luck. Castonzo had injury problems last year and hopes to regroup this season and be an All-Pro lineman.
T-69 Winston Justice: Can He Help Offensive Line Improve and Keep Luck Clean?
The Colts brought Winston Justice in to help beef up the offensive line. Justice is a great tackle, but playing with a new line and a rookie quarterback will be difficult.
If Justice can help secure blocks to help the run game and keep Luck clean then that’s all you can ask of him. After all, it can’t be any worse than last year.
G-75 Mike McGlynn: Will McGlynn and Justice Outplay the Other Side of the Line?
McGlynn and Justice will anchor Andrew Luck’s right side. That’s a very good side of the line compared what they’ve had in the past. They can easily outplay the opposite side of the line. The question is can they adjust to a new system and be what we’re expecting them to be?
G-76 Joe Reitz: Can He Be a Starter for Years on the Team?
Reitz is a hometown guy getting a chance to start in front of family and friends. He struggled last year and has one year to make his presence known on this team. The Colts are banking on Andrew Luck and need to keep him protected.
Reitz is given the chance this year, but if he struggles, the front office will being in somebody new next year.
C-64 Samson Satele: Can He and Luck Have the Same Chemistry as Manning and Saturday?
Manning and Saturday were the darlings of the Colts team since 1998. They had that chemistry and were enjoyable to watch play.
Can Satele and Luck be that while here as well? Many quarterbacks and centers don’t last as long together as Manning and Saturday. Can Satele be good enough to be the next Saturday?
T-72 Jeff Linkenbach: Can He Improve Enough to See the Field?
Jeff Linkenbach has struggled in his time here. He gets beat a lot and gives us too many sacks or penalties. If he can’t protect a rookie quarterback, his time here will be cut short quickly. Hopefully he improved enough over the offseason and camp to keep a spot.
NT-61 Josh Chapman: How Long Until Chapman Is the Starting Nose Tackle?
Josh Chapman is a big strong defensive lineman. He’s possibly the biggest lineman on the other side of the ball the Colts have had in quite sometime. With being so good at Alabama, will his success translate to success in the NFL? He’s tough as nails and a ball hawk. He could be a starter soon.
NT-99 Antonio Johnson: How Long Can He Keep Starting Job with Chapman Waiting in the Wings?
Antonio Johnson is labeled as the starting nose tackle on the Colts roster. He’s a decent lineman, but I’m not so sure he’s a starter. With a young Chapman behind him on the depth chart ready to play, how long can Johnson keep his job?
DE-95 Fili Moala: Will He Live Up to Expectations or Is This the Best We Have with Him?
Fili Moala has been a disappointment like Jerry Hughes. This is his last chance to prove his worth here. He was a big-play factor at USC and many thought he would do that in the NFL. Unfortunately, hes never showed anything.
Moving to a defensive lineman instead of a defensive tackle should help, but if he doesn’t improve this year, he’s out as a Colt in the offseason.
DE-94 Drake Nevis: Will He Thrive in Freeney and Mathis’ Old Position?
Drake Nevis was great last year prior to his injury as a defensive tackle. Now, with a beefier line he was moved to a defensive lineman. Can he thrive in that role?
He has big shoes to fill in replacing Mathis and Freeney. He’s not going to get their numbers, but can he be solid enough to help a changing defense?
DE-90 Cory Redding: Can Redding Be the Anchor on the New Defensive Line?
Cory Redding brings big-time experience to the Colts. They need his voice and expertise in the 3-4 and adjusting to the new coaching staff. He followed them here from the Ravens where he spent his duration in the NFL until this season.
The Colts are relying on him to be the man on defense. Can he adapt and be that guy in question?
LB-53 Kavell Conner: Will He Continue to Improve and Become a Dynamic Duo with Angerer?
Kavell Conner isn’t widely known by many Colts fans, but he could be by midseason. Conner is a fast, strong linebacker and could make a huge difference in the new look 3-4. He will need to cover a lot of ground, and I think he can.
LB-93 Dwight Freeney: Will He Ever Adapt to New Linebacking Position?
Dwight Freeney may go down as the best Colts defensive lineman. He had over 100 career sacks and was always a force since he was drafted to Indianapolis. Now, he’s the highest paid player on the roster and playing a new position for the first time in his career.
How quickly can Freeney adjust, or will he be let go?
LB-58 Tim Fugger: How Effective Will Fugger Be This Season?
Tim Fugger is a second-string linebacker. The Colts drafted him to run their new scheme in the future. How much we see of Fugger, though, depends on how well Freeney, Mathis, Angerer and Conner can adapt to the new system. If he gets time, he can be highly effective. It all depends on playing time though.
LB-92 Jerry Hughes: Is This the Last Season Hughes Is in Colts Blue?
Jerry Hughes has been a big bust since he was drafted. He’s struggled to find the field, and when he did, he didn’t do much. Now, with a new scheme, Hughes moves to a responsibility he's used to. If he fails this year, though, it will be his last.
LB-98 Robert Mathis: Will He Be Even Better as a Stand-Up Defender?
Robert Mathis is taking on the role of what Mario Williams did in Houston last year. Mathis can be a big force and feared as a linebacker. He’s athletic enough to play in that new role, but will he adjust quick enough?
I think he can, but it’s always difficult to move a Pro Bowl talent to a new position late in his career.
LB-51 Pat Angerer: Is This a Pro Bowl Year for Angerer?
I think Pat Angerer will make his first trip to the Pro Bowl this season. He's been very deserving the last couple of years, and as he enters year three I think he will be that next dominant linebacker.
Angerer's stats have improved each season, and with a new scheme I think his stats will only get better this year. He will now be able to hit holes with a better defensive line that can actually stop the run and have more help in the linebacking spot. I expect a huge year out of Angerer this season.
S-41 Antoine Bethea: How Much Longer Can He be Durable?
Antoine Bethea has been one of the most quietest players on the team. He's a very good contributor and one of the best of the defensive side of the ball every year. What many don't realize is Bethea rarely gets hurt as he plays nearly every game.
When everyone thought Bob Sanders was the next best thing, Bethea was right there with him in the secondary. Unfortunately, Sanders had many injuries while Bethea kept trucking along. How much longer can Bethea keep going?
S-30 David Caldwell: Will Significant Playing Time from Last Year Give Success to Caldwell in 2012?
Due to all the injuries last season in the secondary, Caldwell finally got some playing time. Can playing on the team last year help him with experience this season?
CB-23 Terrence Johnson: How effective Will He be in Nickel or Dime Coverage?
Terrence Johnson will see majority of his time in the nickel or dime. He’s struggled when he played, so the biggest question mark is how effective can he be with more playing time? We will find out this preseason.
CB-21 Justin King: Can He Thrive in Lockdown Man Coverage?
Justin King was traded to be the starting corner. We don’t know much about him though. He’s replacing the king of getting beat on slant routes Jacob Lacey. Can King stop slant routes and play tight man coverage is the question.
With a new defense, he’s going to either shine or get shown up. If he doesn’t cut it early look for him to be benched quickly.
S-35 Joe Lefeged: Will He Last Past Preseason to Make Regular-Season Roster?
Joe Lefeged was used primarily as a return man last year. This season the Colts won’t need him in that role. He will shift to his natural safety position. The problem is if no injuries occur, they don’t have a spot for him on the 53-man roster. His future depends on the preseason. Will he perform?
CB-25 Jerraud Powers: Can Powers Defend Slant Route Better?
The Colts had the worst secondary in the league last year. They have the same this year unfortunately. Powers will have to anchor the secondary and can’t get beat as much as they did last year.
The opponents always beat the Colts on slant routes. This year, the Colts are doing more tight man-to-man coverage. The million dollar question is: Can Powers play up on the line and defend?
CB-20 Cassius Vaughn: Can He Provide the Lockdown Coverage the Colts Need?
The Colts traded for Vaughn in hopes he would be a solid lockdown corner. They don't have much depth or talent after Powers. They need Vaughn to help lock down their opponents' second receiving option.
If Vaughn struggles and is just another Jacob Lacey, I don't seem him in Indy this time next year.
S-28 Tom Zbikowski: Will He be a Long-Term Safety?
Tom Zbikowski came to Indianapolis to follow his defensive coordinator Chuck Pagano. He never was a big factor on the Ravens other than a solid, but quiet contributor. Will Zbikowski make his presence known in Indianapolis, or will he just be a short-term fix until someone better comes along?
P-1 Pat McAfee: Will McAfee Make Pro Bowl This Year?
Pat McAfee has been one of the best punters in the league during his duration in the NFL. The problem is he doesn’t get noticed. Can this year be the year McAfee makes a Pro Bowl appearance?
I think McAfee has the talent and the leg, but does he finally get the recognition he deserves?
LS-48 Justin Snow: How Much Longer Will Snow Be Here?
Justin Snow has seen it all in 13 years NFL career. He’s the best unknown player on the roster. The question is: How much longer will he want to play?
He’s been through the highs and the lows. Does he want to go through a few more seasons of lows or exit with a steady career?
K- 4 Adam Vinatieri: How Much Longer Will Vinatieri be "Clutch?"
Adam Vinatieri has been in the NFL for ages it seems. He's won championships in New England and here in Indianapolis. He's arguably the best clutch kicker the NFL has ever seen. How much does Vinatieri have left in the tank?
Vinatieri has become less accurate as of late and doesn't seem to have as much distance as other kickers. He's still an extremely solid option and one of the most reliable from the 35-yard line in. How many more years will he be in Indy though?