INDIANAPOLIS –The word has been pounded and pounded in ever since Chris Ballard first spoke publically as the general manager of the Indianapolis Colts.
Competition. Competition. Competition.
In an offseason in which Ballard has brought in new faces to around half of the 90-man roster, that competition is about to be whittled down to 53 names over the next month.
Here are five key position battles to keep an eye on when the Colts hit the practice field this Sunday at Lucas Oil Stadium:
- No. 3 Wide Receiver:A third wide receiver is pretty much a 12th starter on offense. The Colts have plenty of options for receiver No. 3 this season. Kamar Aiken is the veteran presence of the group at the age of 28. Aiken arrives to Indianapolis ready to offer a bigger body complement to the quicker wideouts already in place. Jacoby Brissett, the team's 2015 first-round pick, is also in the mix for reps behind T.Y. Hilton and Donte Moncrief. Is the third season where we start to see Dorsett show more consistent flashes of that first-round potential? And don't forget about second-year receiver Chester Rogers. After a strong performance in the spring, Rogers has a realistic chance for big playing time in 2017.
- Offensive Line Depth:As long as the full pads don't offer any surprises, it looks like the Colts have a starting line all but in place for 2017. But the Colts should know better than just about any NFL team that depth up front is an absolute. Denzelle Good is probably atop the depth list, as he brings experience to both guard and tackle. Veteran Brian Schwenke is purely an interior guy, but he will start Training Camp on PUP. Outside of fourth-round pick OT-Zach Banner, the Colts will be seeking out guys to round out a position group that could have 9 or 10 bodies on the 53-man roster.
- Defensive Line Positions:The Colts will not have a problem in finding bodies for the defensive line room this season. However, they will have a question in figuring out starting and rotational roles for the group. Where does big free agent signing Johnathan Hankins line up? Will David Parry crack the starting lineup for a third straight year at nose tackle? Where is Kendall Langford at health wise, as he starts Training Camp on the PUP list? Lots of questions regarding a group with pretty good depth going into 2017.
- Inside Linebacker:Throughout the offseason program, Chuck Pagano threw out five, even six, names in the inside linebacker competition for two open spots. Jon Bostic, a 2013 second-round pick, is probably the most popular name among the group of candidates. If Bostic has one of the ILB jobs, there's still plenty of guess as to who will line up next to the 2017 free agent signee. You have returners in Edwin Jackson and Antonio Morrison, another newcomer in Sean Spence and a rookie draft pick in Anthony Walker all expected to compete at inside linebacker.
- No. 2 Cornerback:Unlike last year, the Colts did not go out and spend top dollar for a cornerback in free agency. Instead, they will turn to a rookie or a current player on the roster to be ' fellow staring corner. Rashaan Melvin, and his 11 career starts (9 last year with the Colts), exited the spring as the No. 2 corner. But do not rule out second-round pick Quincy Wilson to eventually win the job.
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