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 tight end position:
» How will Jack Doyle rebound?
Jack Doyle has been Mr. Dependable for the Colts' offense for a number of years, not only for his steady-Eddie approach and sure hands on the field, but for his ability to simply stay available and ward off any nagging bumps and bruises each and every week. That's why last season was so frustrating for Doyle, who missed five games early on due to a hip injury, and then suffered a season-ending kidney injury Week 12 against the Miami Dolphins. Placed on injured reserve Nov. 26, Doyle's sixth NFL season ended after having caught 26 passes for 245 yards and two touchdowns in six total games. Prior to the 2018 season, Doyle had played in at least 15 games the first five years of his career. With the kidney issue behind him, Doyle this offseason underwent surgery to fix his hip, and missed the entire offseason workout program. He's expected to make his return during training camp and should be good to go by the time Week 1 rolls around. The Colts' offense is simply better with Doyle's all-around abilities as a blocker and as a pass catcher on the field, so look for head coach Frank Reich to take full advantage once Doyle is able to return.
» Can Eric Ebron repeat his career year?
It's probably unfair to expect a guy to come out and haul in a touchdown catch every week, but that's pretty much what Eric Ebron delivered in his first season in Indy in 2018. Thriving in Reich's tight end-friendly offense, Ebron put in a career year with 66 receptions for 750 yards and 13 receiving touchdowns, while adding a rushing touchdown, as well, and earning his first Pro Bowl selection. It's a performance that would be hard to top by anybody, but don't tell that to Ebron, who has bigger and better aspirations in 2019. "I believe Gronk (Rob Gronkowski) still holds the record for the most touchdowns, which is 17," Ebron said this offseason, referring to Gronkowski's single-season tight end record of 17 touchdown receptions set back in 2011. "So if I want to do anything that is going to be real spectacular or anything that is going to be really good, I've got to go get 17. And if I go get 17, then what do I do? I help my team win games. I did that, proved that and I feel like if I'm at my best then I feel like this team will be at their best."
» What kind of jump will Mo Alie-Cox make?
In April 2017, the Colts signed Mo Alie-Cox as an undrafted free agent out of VCU. Oh, and he didn't play football in college, mind you; he was a basketball standout. That's right: after having not played organized football since middle school, the Colts saw something in Alie-Cox that made them believe he could be the latest in a line of college basketball players that could make the successful transition into an NFL tight end. A year and a half later in Oakland, Alie-Cox leaps in the air and, with one hand, grabs his first-career NFL touchdown, and two years later, with Doyle and Ebron on the mend, he's making play after play as the team's No. 1 tight end throughout the offseason workout program. It's been a quick transition for Alie-Cox, who has not only impressed with his skills as a pass catcher, but has caught on to the blocking aspect of the position quite well, too. While he isn't a finished product by any means, the coaching staff is excited about the prospect of Alie-Cox being a playmaker in Indy for years to come.