Defensive Line Burning Questions Heading Into 2016 Training Camp

Intro: We are less than one week away from the Colts heading to Anderson for the start of Training Camp. What are the “Burning Questions” along the defensive line going into 2016?

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INDIANAPOLIS –The Colts will head to Training Camp in Anderson with a relatively good bill of health.

It's the defensive line group where the only real worry belongs.

As we shift our "Burning Questions" series to the defensive side of the ball, Colts.com takes a look at the defensive line group going into Training Camp.

  • Will Henry Anderson open the season on the physically unable to perform list?

Last year at Training Camp, it was Robert Mathis' status up in the air for Week One.

Now, it's Henry Anderson.

Jim Irsay said during minicamp that Anderson, who tore his ACL last November, might not be ready to go for the team's regular season opener (vs. Detroit on Sept. 11).

The dilemma the Colts are going to face is just how valuable is Anderson, when they don't want to rush his return.

Let's say Anderson is projected to miss three weeks. Can you afford to use up that spot on the 53-man roster and then hopefully have him back for Week Four? Remember, a player on the PUP list misses (at least) the first six weeks of the season.

A healthy Anderson might just be the Colts' best defender.

But the Colts have made it clear they don't want to rush back a massive piece of their defensive future.

STAT TO NOTE: Kendall Langford leads all active NFL defensive linemen with 128 consecutive starts.**

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  • What will Arthur Jones' role be in 2016?

We didn't see Jones (ankle) participating in the team's offseason program.

Jones says his rehab has been filled with "adversity" after an ankle injury last August ended his 2015 campaign in the preseason.

If healthy, Jones gives the Colts a unique lineman that can excel on running and passing downs.

The Colts do expect to have Jones ready for the start of Training Camp.

That's key for several reasons, especially with Anderson in jeopardy of missing the start of the regular season.

A healthy Jones gives the Colts a veteran presence up front with Kendall Langford, and another guy that doesn't necessarily have to come off the field on third down.

STAT TO NOTE: David Parry was one of two rookie defensive linemen (Atlanta's Vic Beasley) to start all 16 games last season.

  • Is Hassan Ridgeway going to be a key reserve as a rookie?

This question will probably depend on the answers to the first two questions above.

If Anderson (and/or Jones) has to miss some time to start 2016, Ridgeway could easily be the team's first reserve off the bench.

The defensive line group constantly rotates bodies over the course of a game, so Ridgeway is going to have some sort of role in 2016.

Remember last year, the Colts had guys like David Parry, Zach Kerr and even Henry Anderson evolve from reserve-type roles in Anderson, to eventual starters.

Of the four defensive picks the Colts made in 2016, Ridgeway could very well see the most playing time of that quartet.

STAT TO NOTE: Per Pro Football Focus, Ridgeway had the fifth-best pass rush productivity amongst draft eligible defensive tackles.

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