2. The start of the Shane Steichen era. Steichen has imprinted his energetic, no-nonsense, detail-focused mentality on the Colts since being hired as head coach in mid-February. Training camp will be Colts fans' first look at how Steichen expects his team to play – and that goes beyond the X's and O's wizardry the former Los Angeles Chargers and Philadelphia Eagles offensive coordinator has become known for over the last few seasons.
3. Vibe check on the QBs. While Gardner Minshew (#10) and Anthony Richardson (#5) will compete to be the Colts' Week 1 starting quarterback, something you'll notice at Grand Park is how tight those two guys are. The competitive-yet-collaborative foundation between Minshew and Richardson should only help the Colts build toward the regular season, no matter who starts against the Jacksonville Jaguars on Sept. 10. And don't discount Sam Ehlinger's (#4) impact here, too – his offensive knowledge and "it" factor have shined in training camp the last two seasons, too.
4. Gardner Minshew's flow. He may not have the fu manchu anymore, but – and this is a little hard to explain unless you actually see it – but his hairstyle matches his play. It just works. And it works a lot better when he has a horseshoe on his helmet instead of picking apart the Colts with a Jaguars helmet on.
5. Gardner Minshew's accuracy. Speaking of Minshew picking apart the Colts' defense – he opened the 2020 season by completing 19 of 20 passes against the Colts. His completion percentage of 95 percent was the fourth-highest in NFL history (minimum 20 attempts). He'll provide a stiff challenge for Gus Bradley's group on a daily basis during training camp.
6. Anthony Richardson's talent. There's not much else to say here except: You just gotta see it up close.
7. Anthony Richardson's joy. Be sure to grab a seat for practice early to watch Richardson ebulliently bounce on to the field. The Colts didn't draft Richardson just because of his immense physical talent; his personality only cemented the team's belief in him as a quarterback and person.
8. The feeling of being around a bunch of Colts fans again. I don't have to tell you about the hope, excitement and buzz around the 2023 Colts – you've already shown us by selling out four camp practices. Colts fans are among the best in the NFL; who wouldn't want to spend a morning, afternoon or evening with a couple thousand of your best friends watching your favorite team get ready for the season?
9. Michael Pittman Jr's competitiveness. Anyone who's been to a full-pads practice over the last few years - or better yet, a joint practice - knows what I'm talking about here. Pittman (#11) absolutely brings it physically and emotionally during training camp, and his competitive edge helps set a good tone for the Colts' offense.
10. Julian Blackmon's voice. This isn't about how good a singer he is (although he is a very good singer). Blackmon (#32) is moving to strong safety this year, a role that requires quite a bit of communication in Gus Bradley's defense. Good news for one of the more vocal members of the Colts.
11. Tickets are free. Zip. Zero. Nada. Gratis. Free. Get yours here.
12. Post-practice autographs. There's no better time to connect with your favorite players by snagging an autograph after practice. Get those footballs, helmets, jerseys, etc. ready.
13. Colts City. With a festival-like feel, interactive football drills and games for kids and much more, Colts City at Grand Park is annually one of the best family-friendly summer destinations around Indianapolis. Colts City opens at least one hour before every training camp practice; for afternoon and night practices, it opens two hours before practice. Check out the full schedule and plan your visit here.
14. The intensity of red zone drills. These are some of the most critical situations a team can practice during training camp, and it'll be no different for the Colts with a new starting quarterback – and a handful of returning players who want to prove last year's issues inside the 20-yard line (29th in the NFL in touchdown percentage) were a mirage.
15. Dallis Flowers. Let's get into one of the most interesting position battles of training camp: Cornerback. The Colts will have Kenny Moore II (#23) as their top slot cornerback, but the team's two starting outside corner gigs are up for grabs. So we'll start with Dallis Flowers (#33), the 2022 undrafted free agent whose smooth athleticism and ideal size make him one of the guys to watch in this battle during training camp. Flowers played a bit of cornerback last year but was more known as a rookie as an electric kickoff returner.
16. Darrell Baker Jr. Baker (#39) joined the Colts' practice squad last year, and his top-end speed and length will give him a shot to compete in training camp.
17. The hometown kid. JuJu Brents (#29) had his draft party at Birdies, just down the road from Grand Park in Westfield. It was there Brents, an Indianapolis native, got a call from a 317 area code – with general manager Chris Ballard on the line telling him he'd be the No. 44 pick in the 2023 NFL Draft. Brents didn't participate in OTAs as he worked his way back from a wrist injury, but the Colts believe his size, physicality and talent will fit Bradley's defense well whenever he's ready to practice.
18. Darius Rush. The Colts snagged Rush (#30), a converted wide receiver who ran a sub-4.40 40-yard dash at the NFL Combine, in the fifth round of this year's draft. He'll bring speed and ball skills to the Colts' cornerback competition.
19. Jaylon Jones. Jones (#40), a seventh-round pick from Texas A&M, is another guy whose athletic profile fits what Bradley wants from his cornerbacks. While these five cornerbacks may lack experience, they all have standout athletic traits that Bradley and defensive backs coach Ron Milus will work to mold at Grand Park over the next few weeks.
20. Wide receiver vs. cornerback drills. No single drill produces more oohs and aahs than these one-one-one battles. How the Colts' cornerbacks do in them won't be the deciding factor on who tops the depth chart, but they're a great way to turn up the competitiveness of practice while the participants work on their technique.
21. Alec Pierce in one-on-one drills. Pierce (#14) was one of 31 receivers to average over 14 yards per reception when facing press coverage in 2022, and his go-up-and-get-it ball skills lead to plenty of competitive reps in one-on-one situations. Pierce spent the offseason working on refining his routes, but when it comes to making a play on a 50/50 ball – he showed last year the odds he comes down with a reception are higher than 50 percent.
22. O-line vs D-line one-on-one drills. Watching the big guys get after it is a yearly favorite of mine. Sometimes it's worth turning your attention away from the pass-catching drills to check these out.
23. DeForest Buckner's scooter gang. A few years back, Buckner (#99) gifted the Colts' defensive line scooters for Christmas, with the intent to use them for getting around training camp. Watching Buckner, Grover Stewart (#90) and Tyquan Lewis (#94) roll up to practice on those things – usually together – is, to me, one of the surest signs that football is right around the corner.
24. Reggie Wayne, the coach. Sometimes, across sports, the best players don't make for the best coaches (it can be hard to translate your own greatness for a larger group of players). Reggie Wayne is an exception to that rule. The care he has for his players, the teaching he offers them and the knowledge and tips he provides shined in 2022, his first season as a full-time coach. It's easy to see why Steichen kept him on the Colts' staff after being hired earlier this year – and it had nothing to do with his name sitting atop Lucas Oil Stadium in the Colts' Ring of Honor.
25. Night practices. The Colts' three practices under the lights of Grand Park are all sold out, but if you have a ticket, you're in for a treat. There's not much better than a warm summer Indiana night watching the Colts get some work in – and two of those practices are joint ones with the Chicago Bears, which are always a highlight of August.
26. The Colts' front seven vs. Justin Fields. Fields is one of the NFL's most dangerous quarterbacks with the ball in his hands on the run. For the Colts' front, discipline will be emphasized every day in practice (especially when Richardson is on the field) - but in these joint practices, discipline will be key to contain Fields in 11-on-11 periods.
27. The Colts' cornerbacks vs. D.J. Moore, Darnell Mooney and the Bears' wide receivers. By the time mid-August rolls around, the Colts' cornerbacks will have got plenty of reps against Michael Pittman, Alec Pierce, etc. – and a change of opponent will probably be welcome. The Bears have the speedy Mooney (a 1,000-yard receiver in 2021) and the shifty Moore (a 1,000-yard receiver from 2019-2021) to provide new challenges to a young group of corners for a few nights in August.
28. Blue & Colts cheerleaders. They'll be in Colts City every day. Just make sure Blue isn't holding a shaving cream pie when you go in for that photo op.
29. Grover Stewart's smile. One moment, Stewart is grinning from ear to ear and bellowing in laughter about something. The next, he's destroying a play by blasting through a double team and dropping a running back for a two-yard loss. The Colts have one of the NFL's most underrated defensive tackles in Stewart, and his physicality and intensity – and gregarious personality – have been a constant of Colts camp since 2017.
30. Tickets are free. Load up the family, grab your friends, and experience all this with tickets that cost $0.00. Get yours here.
31. Tony Brown's antics. Few players bring more energy to practice than Brown (#38), the veteran cornerback entering his second year with the Colts. There's no missing him out on the practice field.
32. Jonathan Taylor's home runs. There aren't many prettier sights than the Colts' offense creasing a lane for Taylor (#28), the speedy running back hitting it and turning on the afterburners for a 70-yard touchdown.
33. Zaire Franklin's trash talk. "I don't know 87, I might be one of them" might be my favorite single line from a player mic up I saw last year. Turns out, Franklin's (#44) message to Travis Kelce was spot on – he proved to be one of them in 2022, when he set a new single-season Colts record with 166 tackles.
34. Theme days. Free tickets are still available for Camp Kickoff (July 26), Salute to Service (Aug. 1), Youth Sports Day (Aug. 3), Give Back Sunday (Aug. 6) and Fan Appreciation (Aug. 10). Check out the full schedule and get your free tickets here.
35. The new kicker. The Colts signed Matt Gay (#7), the former Los Angeles Rams Super Bowl-winning kicker, back in March. Gay established himself as one of the NFL's most reliable and most clutch kickers over the last few seasons – which, given his backstory, is a remarkable achievement.
36. Competition at right guard. Will Fries (#75) is the incumbent after starting the final eight games of the 2022 season, but the 2021 seventh-round pick will face competition from a group of players that includes 2023 undrafted free agent Emil Ekiyor (#66), an Indianapolis native who played his college ball at Alabama.
37. The speed of it up close. There's something different about being so close to the action during training camp – you get a sense for just how remarkably athletic the guys on the field are. Yeah, you know these players are big, fast and strong – but it really is different being up close to them in training camp.
38. Andrew Ogletree. Ogletree (#85) was a breakout star of last year's training camp before a mid-August torn ACL ended his rookie season before it could begin. The Colts haven't lost faith in the 2022 sixth-round pick's upside, though – he has rare athleticism for his size (6-foot-5, 260 pounds) and was able to handle the mental responsibilities of playing tight end before his injury last year.
39. Kylen Granson. Granson (#83) put together a strong stretch of practices during OTAs and minicamp in the spring, and the third-year tight end will look to use those as a springboard to building on a 31-catch, 302-yard 2022 season.
40. Jelani Woods. The Year 1 to Year 2 growth of the 2022 third-round pick will be closely watched after Woods (#80) showed promising flashes as a rookie.
41. The tight end competition. Those last three guys will be joined by veterans Mo Alie-Cox (#81), Pharaoh Brown (#49) and Kaden Smith (#48) and rookie Will Mallory (#86) in what should be a wide-open battle not only for roster spots, but roles in the Colts' offense. It'll be fascinating to see how many of these guys earn a spot on the initial 53-man roster – and how the Colts envision using them during the regular season.
42. Adetomiwa Adebawore's athleticism. Adebawore (#95) became the first player in NFL Combine history to weigh at least 280 pounds and run a 40-yard dash under 4.5 seconds (the 282-pound Adebawore clocked in at 4.49 seconds). The Colts see Adebawore's top-end athletic traits translating well to defensive tackle after he primarily played defensive end at Northwestern.
43. Bernhard Raimann's development. Raimann (#79) bulked up this offseason and will look to build on the promise he showed as a rookie.
44. The under-the-radar standout. It's an annual camp storyline – the player who seemingly comes out of nowhere to make a strong impression in August. Who will it be this year? Grab a roster and pay attention to the second and third teams, and you just might find him.
45. Quenton Nelson when the pads go on. One of the best days of camp every year is the first padded practice – and that's a great time to train your focus into the trenches to see offensive linemen and defensive linemen get after it. Nelson (#56), a five-time Pro Bowler, has established himself as one of the NFL's most physical offensive linemen; getting to see him work in these padded practices is a treat.
46. The competition behind Jonathan Taylor. There's a sneaky battle for roster spots and depth chart placement happening behind Taylor between Zack Moss (#21), Deon Jackson (#35) and Evan Hull (#26). Moss and Jackson both had standout moments in 2022 with the Colts, while Hull – an accomplished pass-catching running back at Northwestern – was brought in with a fifth-round pick. Keep an eye on how those guys do in pass protection drills, since their ability to keep Minshew and Richardson upright will be important in figuring out who could spell Taylor at times this season.
47. The third-year defensive ends. Between Kwity Paye (#51) and Dayo Odeyingbo (#54), the Colts will look to their two top-55 2021 draft picks to continue ascending in their third seasons in the NFL. Paye had six sacks in 12 games last season, while Odeyingbo came on strong down the stretch with 3 1/2 sacks and four quarterback hits over his final four games of 2022.
48. A bounce-back for Kenny Moore II. Moore looks primed to prove his 2022 season – his first in the NFL without an interception – was an aberration as he enters Year 2 in Bradley's defense. And the Colts will lean on Moore's experience to assist a young group of cornerbacks competing to start alongside him.
49. Live music. Colts City will have live music and plenty of food options for fans to enjoy.
50. Tickets are free. This is your last reminder. Tickets. Are. Free. Get 'em here.