Indianapolis Colts: 5 Players Who Will Surprise During Training Camp
Every year, perceptions for the upcoming NFL season are formed before training camps even begin. When training camp starts, some of those perceptions are confirmed.
On the other hand, more perceptions are also shattered than anyone ever expects every year.
Whether a certain player surprises or disappoints in camp or whether depth charts are ordered strangely or coaching schemes look different than expected, something will take the preconceived notions and turn them upside-down.
Which players will contribute to the preseason picture for the 2013 Colts? That's what we look at as we continue our training camp previews.
CB Teddy Williams
Colts fans should know by now that the final cornerback spots on the roster are up for grabs.
Vontae Davis and Greg Toler are locks for the roster as the projected starters while Darius Butler and Cassius Vaughn seem likely to be the third and fourth cornerbacks.
After that, however, nothing is certain.
The Colts should keep either five or six corners. Either way, at least one spot will be up for grabs. While undrafted free agents Sheldon Price and Daxton Swanson have been the hot names as potential depth corners, returning cornerback Teddy Williams may surprise people.
Williams bounced on and off the Cowboys' practice squad for two years before landing on the Colts' practice squad in the middle of last season. He was put on the active roster in November, and played in seven games on special teams down the stretch.
While Williams only got on the field, defensively, for one snap last season, he has potential with great speed as a former track star. His experience on special teams and in the Colts' locker room should help Williams in training camp this preseason.
While fans are focused on the rookies, Williams and fellow 2012 practice squad member Marshay Green may surprise people.
DE Lawrence Guy
The Colts' lack of depth on the defensive line really hurt the team in 2012, as injuries to players like Drake Nevis, Fili Moala and Antonio Johnson caused second- and third-string players to have inflated snap counts late in the season.
Lawrence Guy, however, wasn't the problem.
Guy filled in for Moala and Nevis at defensive end after their seasons ended, and played better than he has been credited. Guy didn't offer much in the pass rush, but against the run, he actually played very well.
Somehow, Guy managed to accumulate 12 stops in 92 run defense snaps. With a run stop percentage of 13 percent, Guy finished second in the league for linemen (behind only J.J. Watt) with at least 50 snaps against the run, according to Pro Football Focus (subscription required).
While Guy will be hard-pressed to get a spot on the final roster, his performance in camp may excite fans, especially against the run.
TE Coby Fleener
It's become fashionable this offseason to predict big things for Coby Fleener.
With the Colts' new offensive system and his old college coach in charge, Fleener should see his role grow and be a better fit for his skill set in 2013. Because of the system changes, along with another year of growth for Fleener, it seems that Fleener is set up for a big year in 2013.
Last season, Fleener started out the season with a six-catch, 82-yard game, and would add games with four and five receptions and 40-plus yards before Week 6. After he was injured in Week 8 against Tennessee, Fleener's production dropped. An offseason of recovery should ensure his full health entering camp.
With a recuperated body and a familiarity with the playbook that can't be replicated by a few weeks of studying, Fleener should get off to a good start in training camp.
Expect to see the Colts use Fleener down the seam more and stretch the linebackers in training camp, testing the Colts' questionable coverage skills in the linebacker corps.
OL Justin Anderson
Justin Anderson was selected in the seventh round of the 2012 NFL draft, but entered last year's training camp on the physically unable to perform list.
Anderson never really healed completely and was eventually cut and placed on the practice squad's injured reserve list.
Despite his health issues of last season, Anderson has good potential with his 6'5", 340-pound size and natural talent to succeed. His biggest question mark coming into the NFL was his durability and his need to develop better technique, things that are still a concern for him heading into 2013.
If Anderson can get through camp healthy, he very well could turn out an impressive camp, earning himself another chance at contributing in the regular season.
He has the physical traits. What happens now is up to him and his health.
LB Justin Hickman
The Colts have a good problem at linebacker: a lot of depth.
With Pat Angerer, Jerrell Freeman, Kelvin Sheppard and Kavell Conner, the Colts have four linebackers with at least one season of starting experience apiece. Behind them are unknown players, but Justin Hickman is a player who should make the final roster.
Hickman was signed out of the CFL last season and instantly contributed as a special teams player for Indianapolis. He also filled in at outside linebacker, playing 174 snaps in 2012. According to Pro Football Focus, Hickman was the Colts' best run-stopper at OLB, and his grade of plus-1.2 against the run was easily the highest among the Colts' outside linebackers (subscription required).
However, Hickman didn't get any production as a pass-rusher, and it contributed to the Colts' struggles to get to the quarterback in 2012. Seeing this play, the Colts have experimented with Hickman at inside linebacker during OTAs. His versatility should be a key in the 2013 training camp.
Watch for Hickman to make a lot of plays during training camp scrimmages and don't be surprised to hear his name pop up multiple times throughout August.