WESTFIELD, Ind. — To borrow an analogy from Frank Reich, the Indianapolis Colts are at the base of the mountain.
The climb to the top begins now.
The Colts today officially kick off training camp — and the 2019 season — with their first practice at Grand Park Sports Campus in Westfield, Ind., where a young, talented squad will begin the process of building steam heading into their Week 1 road matchup against the Los Angeles Chargers.
We all know the Colts' story heading into this camp; under a first-year head coach in Reich, the team last season got off to a 1-5 start before rallying to win nine of its final 10 regular season games and earn a postseason berth for the first time in four seasons. The Colts then went on the road and dominated their AFC South Division rivals Houston Texans, 21-7, in the Wild Card Round before bowing out in the Divisional Round to the top-seeded Kansas City Chiefs.
With a majority of the team's starters returning from last year's team, as well as a couple key free agent additions and a talented 10-man 2019 NFL Draft class, expectations are high for the Colts — both internally and externally. And general manager Chris Ballard is encouraging his team to embrace those high hopes.
But it's also important to remember: 2018 is over. The restart button was pushed months ago.
"Expectations are good. It's not a bad thing," Ballard told reporters on Wednesday. "But I think, as you visit with our players and watch our players work, look, every year is a new year. It is. I've talked about this a lot: I don't want us to be, and Frank (Reich) doesn't either, a momentum team. We don't want to play off of momentum. I just think that burns you in the long run. We want to continue to work to get better."
So with that, here's a comprehensive preview of what to be on the lookout for as the Colts kickoff training camp today in Westfield:
Want to go to camp?
First of all, it's important to note that the Indianapolis Colts remain one of only a few NFL teams that open up all of their training camp practices to fans.
The cherry on top for the Colts' training camp? It's completely free.
Click here for your free general admission tickets each day you want to attend, and click here to download the team's complete camp schedule. Head to Colts.com/Camp for more information on Colts City and the various theme days and activities planned for fans of all ages.
Also, to receive camp updates, fans are encouraged to follow @Colts on Twitter and/or text "ColtsCamp" to "55433."
Before getting completely immersed in the #ColtsCamp life, check out the top takeaways from the team's 2019 offseason workout program.
This will serve as a good reminder of what we knew, and what needed to be answered, as the team wrapped up veteran minicamp about a month and a half ago.
You can also get Ballard's complete camp update by clicking here. Reich is scheduled to talk to reporters following the team's first training camp practice today.
Thirty-seven days from now, the Colts will cut down their roster from 90 players to 53.
So over the next five-plus weeks, its those players' jobs to make those decisions as hard as possible on Ballard, Reich and their staffs.
Entering camp, it appears the most fierce battles for the Colts could come at positions like wide receiver, offensive line, defensive line, linebacker and cornerback.
Also, what are some under-the-radar names on offense and defense you might want to keep an eye on? We've got you covered there, as well.
Injuries to watch
The Colts are fortunate to enter training camp this year with relatively few major injuries. Just one player, running back Spencer Ware, has been placed on the team's Physically Unable to Perform (PUP) list prior to the start of camp, and Ballard said the expectation is that Ware, who is dealing with a muscle injury, should be back within a couple weeks.
The Colts are going to do everything in their power to maintain this level of health entering the regular season. To cut down on the traditionally higher number of injuries that statistics show occur the first seven to 10 days of camp, the team is going to give several players more "limited" roles to start out.
Those players include quarterback Andrew Luck (calf), wide receiver Deon Cain (knee), safety Clayton Geathers (knee), defensive end Carroll Phillips (undisclosed injury) and tight ends Jack Doyle (hip) and Ross Travis (knee).
"When we left here after vet minicamp we had a bunch of guys that really weren't practicing yet," Ballard said. "We're gonna limit some guys. They're gonna practice, but we're gonna work them back in."
Will the streak continue?
Last season, Skai Moore and George Odum represented a 20th-straight year that the Indianapolis Colts have had at least one undrafted rookie on their Week 1 roster.
If that streak extends to 21 years in 2019, 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.
Browns come to town
The Colts will wrap up camp this year with two exciting days of joint practice sessions with the Cleveland Browns at Grand Park.
While the Colts have plenty of hype entering the 2019 season, the Browns have probably claimed more national attention over the past few months for the way they've continued to build what could be one of the AFC's more talented rosters.
They already had the likes of quarterback Baker Mayfield, wide receiver Jarvis Landry, defensive end Myles Garrett and cornerback Denzel Ward, but this offseason, the team made a blockbuster deal when it acquired explosive wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr., as well as defensive end Olivier Vernon, from the New York Giants, in exchange for guard Kevin Zeitler, safety Jabrill Peppers and 2019 first- and third-round picks.
The Browns also signed free agent defensive tackle Sheldon Richardson and moved up to take talented LSU cornerback Greedy Williams in the second round of the 2019 NFL Draft.
General manager John Dorsey, first-year head coach Freddie Kitchens and their bunch will be in Westfield on Wednesday, Aug. 14, and Thursday, Aug. 15, ahead of the two teams' preseason game on Saturday, Aug. 17, at Lucas Oil Stadium.
'Behind The Colts'
Colts Productions is back with a new web series that will take fans behind the scenes at training camp.
The first episode of "Behind The Colts: 2019 Training Camp" — which will chronicle the team's move to Grand Park, "arrival day" and the team's first practice – will air on Saturday (July 27) on Colts.com, as well as on the Colts' Twitter, Facebook, YouTube and Instagram sites.
Future episodes will air leading up to the team's first game of the season taking Colts fans behind the scenes like they have never been before.
The Indianapolis Colts veterans are ready to get back to football as they arrive for training camp at Grand Park.