OTAs have started and, so far, Anthony Richardson is living up to the hype of his fourth overall selection. Early in summer camp, it already appears he has the respect and trust of his teammates and coaches, and a special connection with fellow rookie WR Josh Downs. This past week, Colts HC Shane Steichen told reporters that, “Anthony’s getting some reps with the 1s, Gardner’s getting some reps with the 1s, and we’ll see how it plays out.” He continued saying that Richardson “made some big plays” and did “some next-level stuff.”
Even the Colts’ owner is in favor of playing the rookie as much as possible. He said, “You get better by playing. I mean, practice and preseason games and watching in a quarterback room, that’s great. But, man, I’ll tell you, he’d get better by playing, and it’s something that is really important. Because, again, his development is so much of a key to the franchise’s future. It is the critical key.”
However, these practices are nothing like real game situations as much as they are meant to reflect them. So, what else can the Colts do to round out their roster to help their rookie QB shine and what other news is buzzing in Indy?
Bring More Offensive Linemen Into Camp
Currently, second year man Bernhard Raimann looks to be the starting LT this season. However, after an unsuccessful rookie campaign, a question mark looms over the position. The Colts selected LT Blake Freeland in the fourth round of this year’s draft but is the franchise really going to protect their franchise QB with a day three rookie if they move on from Raimann? After all, the LT position is one of the most important positions on offense especially when you have a rookie QB. Locking down the blind side will be monumental to ensure Richardson’s success.
As big a fan I was of Freeland coming out of BYU, as mentioned in a previous article, he’ll need to show plenty of improvement if he wishes to fill this hole. To possibly fast track Freeland’s and Raimann’s developments the team could bring in a LT to bolster competition. A notable name on the market is Taylor Lewan who’s been a wall for the Titans since 2014.
Another part of the line the Colts could elect to solidify is the RG position. Although their interior isn’t bad, Will Fries is definitely the weak link along their interior. They brought in Alabama OG Emil Ekiyor as a UDFA, but barring injuries or an immediate increase in production, I don’t expect him to make the 53-man. Two guards still on the market are veterans Trai Turner and Dalton Risner. Trai Turner would serve as an interim piece to buy time for the team to find a more permanent solution. Risner however is a more permanent solution but would be a more costly one than Turner. Yet, with Risner still on the market, this could indicate a decline in his value resulting in him being signed to a team-friendly deal.
Other Splashes in Camp
Summer football presents opportunities for all but especially those who are on the fringe. Interior DL Jamal Woods was brought in as an UDFA and hasn’t looked back. So far this summer, he’s caught the eye of DC Gus Bradley who had this to say about Woods: “His explosiveness, I think, in rookie minicamp is what jumped out at us. We felt like in the short period of time, just watching the drill work – obviously, his film work that we studied before, but the way he came in, the way he approached it and some of his explosiveness showed up in that short period of time.”
From rookie minicamp, Woods earned a contract guaranteeing him a spot on the team’s 90-man roster. Still, the climb up the depth chart is long for Woods. He isn’t expected to overtake the roles of DeForrest Buckner, Kwity Paye, Grover Steward or Taven Bryan, but he could find his way to being a third stringer. It’ll be difficult for him, but if Woods can sustain a high level of play throughout the rest of the summer, the team could choose to keep him going into the season instead of other players that are also higher on the depth chart.
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