Offensive Line Burning Questions Heading Into Colts Training Camp
Zach Bolinger | Getty Images
INDIANAPOLIS – All the questions the Colts face heading into their 2018 Training Camp will see answers develop in front of fans at Grand Park.
On Wednesday, July 25, the Colts will report to work in Westfield for three and a half weeks, with a joint practice session against the Baltimore Ravens concluding things on Saturday, Aug. 18.
Over the next week and a half, 1070TheFan.com will take a look at the “Burning Questions” for all position groups heading into the 2018 Training Camp.
Here’s a look at the offensive line burning questions with Training Camp nearing:
-Will both rookie guards start in Week One?
Jim Irsay is hoping for that.
We know Quenton Nelson is going to be the Week One starter at left guard. That’s a given.
But we didn’t see Braden Smith, who went 37th overall in April, take starting reps at right guard during the spring. Those went to veteran Matt Slauson, who has 108 career starts (primarily at left guard).
When the full pads come on a few days into Training Camp that’s when we need to start seeing Smith climb into some first-team reps, if he’s going to be a serious candidate to start as a rookie.
The learning curve for Smith shouldn’t be too immense. This is a guy who started 41 straight games in the SEC, including seeing playing time as a true freshman.
Right now, Smith has some definite ground to make up if the Colts are going to have both of their rookie guards in the starting lineup.
STAT TO NOTE: Quenton Nelson and Braden Smith were the 2017 AP First-Team All-American selections at guard last season.
-How important is a bounce back year from Ryan Kelly?
The 2017 campaign was a year to forget for the offensive line, and Kelly specifically.
Last August, Kelly suffered a foot injury that sidelined him for the first month of the season.
Then a concussion in late November forced the second-year center to miss the rest of 2017.
Yes, injuries were the culprit for Kelly in 2018, but it goes without saying that the Colts cannot afford that type of season from their starting center.
When the Colts drafted Kelly 18th overall in 2016, they didn’t want to have to think about the center position for the next decade.
Well, they had to think about it a lot last season.
Expect a highly motivated Kelly as he heads into the hump year on his rookie contract. The Colts must decide next offseason whether or not to pick up Kelly’s fifth-year option, for the 2020 season.
It’s bad news if the Colts decide to hold off on that for Kelly come next spring.
STAT TO NOTE: Last year the Colts started 4 players at center (Ryan Kelly, Deyshawn Bond, Anthony Fabiano and Mike Person).
-Will Anthony Castonzo build off a strong finish to 2017?
Whether the Castonzo haters want to admit it or not, the left tackle was very solid to close out the ’17 season.
He had a long stretch in the second half of the season of keeping opposing pass rushers off Jacoby Brissett.
Castonzo turns 30 years old in August as he enters season No. 8 in his NFL career.
Is it time to start thinking about the long-term future at left tackle?
Currently, there’s zero obvious choice of that player on the roster.
And Castonzo showed last season that he should have at least a couple of more capable seasons in front of him.
For this line to truly be ‘fixed’, they cannot have finding that successor for Castonzo atop the priority list in 2019.
STAT TO NOTE: Since 2012, Anthony Castonzo has been the Colts’ starting left tackle in 93-of-96 games.