INDIANAPOLIS — With the month of July — and the start of training camp — upon us, it’s time for the Indianapolis Colts’ Burning Questions series.
We continue today with the guard position:
» How can Quenton Nelson possibly improve upon his First-Team All-Pro rookie season?
Well, if you ask Quenton Nelson, there’s plenty he can get better at in Year 2 — which is a scary thought for opposing defenses. Nelson had one of the more successful rookie seasons for an offensive lineman in recent memory in 2018, as the sixth-overall pick played every snap at left guard, was named First-Team All-Pro and became the first Colts rookie offensive linemen selected to the Pro Bowl since Chris Hinton back in 1983. But with new offensive line coaches in Chris Strausser and Klayton Adams, as well as senior offensive assistant Howard Mudd, in the fold, Nelson refuses to rest on a successful first season and will continue harping on those techniques. “I think everyone can get better at their technique just every day with the consistency of it – like all the fine details of offensive line play,” Nelson said. “For me, it would be getting my hands inside, keeping my elbows in in the run game and the pass game and really trusting and believing in my technique.”
» Will the Indy guards pull more in the run game?
With Nelson at left guard and Mark Glowinski at right guard, the Colts have two of the better run-blocking interior offensive linemen in the entire NFL. In fact, in 2018, Nelson ranked fourth among qualifying guards in impact run-block percentage, according to Pro Football Focus, while Glowinski was right behind him in fifth place. One of the biggest reasons behind this success was Nelson and Glowinski’s pure athleticism and ability to be effective as pullers in the run game. So when head coach Frank Reich this offseason repeated over and over his charge to be a more consistent running team in 2019, one can’t help but imagine the Colts will dive even deeper into the talents of their guards, who have proven to be among the best of the best people mover there are around.
» Who will earn backup jobs at guard?
Just like at tackle, the Colts will enter the 2019 season with the luxury of knowing their two starters at guard in Nelson and Glowinski. But there are plenty of players vying for backup jobs behind them who need to be ready to go at a moment’s notice and maintain the high level of play expected out of those in the starting lineup up front. There are Josh Andrews and Evan Bohem, both of whom are vying for the backup center job but have experience playing guard. There’s Joe Haeg, who can play all five positions but will continue to get work at left and right guard. There’s Le’Raven Clark, who enters a critical fourth year and has the ability to slide inside from tackle. Then there’s a mix of guys like Jake Eldrenkamp, William Poehls and Nico Siragusa, each of whom are hoping to take advantage of their reps during camp and the preseason to earn a spot on the 53-man roster. It’ll be interesting to see how many pure guards the Colts keep by the time Week 1 of the regular season rolls around.