INDIANAPOLIS — The look and feel of this year's training camp will be unlike any other for the Indianapolis Colts.
But the overall goal for head coach Frank Reich and his squad remains the same: over the next six weeks, do whatever you can to prepare for the long climb to the top of the mountain.
The Colts officially kick training camp into gear this week at the Indiana Farm Bureau Football Center on the northwest side of town, where the players will embark on a re-acclimation process into the on-field football activities they missed during this year's virtual offseason program.
But once the pads are added to the mix as early as Aug. 17, it's on.
Without the luxury of preseason games this year, those padded practices will serve as the best opportunity for the team to work out the kinks and get ready for their 2020 regular season opener Sept. 13 on the road against the Jacksonville Jaguars.
If 2020 has taught us anything, it's to expect the unexpected; the COVID-19 pandemic has teams across the league facing new challenges every day. But here's our best shot at a comprehensive preview of this year's #ColtsCamp:
Back home (for now)
The Colts have very much enjoyed holding training camp at Grand Park Sports Campus in Westfield, Ind., the past two years, where the team not only has access to top-of-the-line facilities, but also has plenty of space for thousands of fans to get an up-close-and-personal experience on a daily basis.
But the COVID-19 pandemic made it necessary for the NFL to require all of its teams to hold their training camps at their respective home facilities this year, leading to a temporary hiatus from Grand Park for the Colts.
So while the team has circled late-July 2021 as its return to its summer home away from home, it has been busy getting the Indiana Farm Bureau Football Center fully prepared to handle each and every health-related need made necessary by this pesky virus.
Team and position meeting rooms have been moved around to allow for maximum social distancing; plexiglass has been installed between every player's locker stall; the team has completely changed how it handles meals and snacks and much more.
All of these efforts are being headed up by Colts head athletic trainer Dave Hammer, who has been appointed as the team's infection control officer.
See the Indianapolis Colts veterans as they return back to Indiana Farm Bureau Football Center to prepare for the 2020 season.
The Colts' rookies, quarterbacks and players undergoing treatment for various injuries officially reported for camp early a couple weeks back. Last week, it was the veterans' turn.
With football officially back — and not just in virtual form — Colts general manager Chris Ballard and head coach Frank Reich addressed the media last week, answering a variety of questions about both the team's COVID-19 protocols and approaches, as well as the roster itself heading into camp.
Highlights of Ballard's media session included information about upcoming roster cuts (new league rules for 2020 required teams to trim their offseason rosters from 90 to 80 players by Aug. 16), intriguing positional battles and the team's efforts to thwart COVID-19. You can check it all out by clicking here.
Reich, meanwhile, talked to reporters about the "new normal" heading into camp, how he plans on evaluating the team's rookies over the next few weeks without a normal offseason program or preseason reps and veteran quarterback Philip Rivers' buy-in to some different approaches with his new team. All that and more from Reich can be found by clicking here.
Who are the notable returners, additions, losses and camp battles for the Colts this year heading into training camp?
Here's our position-by-position preview:
The Colts had a busy offseason, adding plenty of firepower both offensively and defensively and addressing most of their needs from their disappointing 7-9 campaign a season ago. So what questions are left that still need to be answered heading into the start of training camp and the regular season?
Here are three Burning Questions at each position for the Colts:
Will the streak continue?
Last season, tight end Hale Hentges represented a 21st straight year that the Indianapolis Colts have had at least one undrafted rookie on their Week 1 roster.
If that NFL-long streak extends to 22 years in 2020, who might rise to the top over the next few weeks?
Here are capsules on each of the team's undrafted rookies hoping to make some noise this year.
Injuries to watch
The Colts fortunately don't have many serious injuries that bear monitoring as the team enters camp.
There are four players currently on either the Active/Non-Football Injury or Active/Physically Unable to Perform lists, but all four could return to practice at any time.
Those currently on the Active/NFI list are safety Julian Blackmon and wide receiver T.Y. Hilton. Blackmon, the Colts' third-round pick in this year's NFL Draft, is still fully working his way back after undergoing knee surgery in December while finishing out his final year at Utah. Hilton, meanwhile, had a hamstring issue while training on his own before the start of camp, though the injury is not immediately believed to be serious.
Those currently on the Active/PUP list are tight end Mo Alie-Cox and defensive end Kemoko Turay. We're yet to officially hear what injury is keeping Alie-Cox off the field; Turay, meanwhile, suffered a broken ankle last October in the Colts' Week 5 road victory over the eventual Super Bowl champion Kansas City Chiefs, and continues working his way back to 100 percent.
The Colts also currently have two players — wide receiver Malik Henry and cornerback Jackson Porter — on the newly-created Reserve/COVID-19 list, a roster designation for players who have either tested positive for COVID-19, or have been quarantined after having been in close contact with an infected person or persons. The team cannot publicly confirm whether or not a player has tested positive for the virus, however.
General camp schedule
Today is the official start of an eight-day re-acclimation period for the players. This time will mostly be spent doing work with the strength and conditioning staff; groups of no more than 15 at a time will spend 60 minutes a day in the weight room, and 60 minutes a day doing on-field conditioning.
Much like Phase 1 of the offseason workout program, some players — quarterbacks, wide receivers, kickers, punters and long snappers — are allowed to use footballs in some of their on-field conditioning work, although no team activities are allowed.
Team walkthroughs are also permitted to begin; they can be up to 60 minutes the first four days and up to 75 minutes on each of the final four days of this period.
So what's next? When do the pads come on? When are final roster cuts?
Check out this general look at the Colts’ training camp schedule (and, of course, keep in mind that this is all subject to change).
You can stay up to date on all things #ColtsCamp in any of the following areas: