INDIANAPOLIS – Over the next nine weeks, the Colts will take their first major step in building the foundation for the 2014 season.
The voluntary offseason program is broken down into a three-phase program by the NFL's Collective Bargaining Agreement:
Phase One consists of the first two weeks of the program with activities limited to strength and conditioning and physical rehabilitation only.
Phase Two consists of the next three weeks of the program. On-field workouts may include individual player instruction and drills as well as team practice conducted on a "separates" basis. No live contact or team offense vs. team defense drills are permitted.
Phase Three consists of the next four weeks of the program. Teams may conduct a total of 10 days of organized team practice activity, or "OTAs". No live contact is permitted, but 7-on-7, 9-on-7, and 11-on-11 drills are permitted.
The Colts will conclude their nine-week program with a mandatory minicamp from June 17-19.
Here's a look at five questions I'll be watching over the next two months:
Does Reggie Wayne Hit The Practice Field?
Wayne said earlier this month that he is expected to be cleared for football activities this Friday. That doesn't necessarily mean that Wayne will participate in the on the field portion of OTAs and minicamp. He's still just six months removed from ACL surgery.
If Wayne is absent from this portion of the offseason (on the field wise), that might actually be a bit of blessing for the Colts offense. It would allow for a nice period of time to continue to evaluate the Colts young receivers in a competition that will be very intense to decide the final roster spots at the pass catching positions.
Wayne has said he plans to be ready for training camp so that provides plenty of time to re-incorporate No. 87 into the offense.
Will We See a "Bell Cow" Emerge At Running Back?
Without being in full pads during this portion of the offseason program, it will be difficult to have anyone set in stone at the running back position.
Trent Richardson is the only Colts running back returning in 2014 who isn't coming off a season-ending injury (Vick Ballard, Ahmad Bradshaw, Dan Herron and Chris Rainey).
As the 2013 season was winding down, Richardson opened up a bit on how difficult the past year was for the 23-year old running back. There's no hiding that Chuck Pagano and the Colts have high hopes for Richardson in his first full season in Indianapolis.
Is Khaled Holmes The Colts Starting Center?
Holmes will have his first complete NFL offseason here in 2014. Just like running back, engraving any offensive line starting spots is difficult (some easier then others) until the pads are strapped on.
When the Colts head out for on the field work later in OTAs, Andrew Luck will receive snaps from a new center.
In 2013, Holmes was drafted to be the center of the future and it looks like he will get an opportunity to prove that this offseason.
Who Lines Up Next To LaRon Landry?
This might be one of the more wide open position battles heading into 2014 with many pundits thinking a safety will be added early in the Colts draft class.
Delano Howell has NFL starting experience at the safety position, along with special teams aces Sergio Brown (who is looking for more in 2014) and newly signed Colt Anderson.
The Colts secondary lacked continuity for much of the 2013 season so finding that this offseason is pivotal with returnees Vontae Davis, Greg Toler and Landry.
Is Josh Chapman Ready To Start At Nose Tackle?
Just like running back and center, the starting nose tackle spot can't be completely evaluated until the pads are put on in the trenches.
Chapman showed flashes of being that 3-4 anchor last season. Without 2013 starter Aubrayo Franklin, there’s a void to be filled along some veteran defensive linemen.
Ryan Grigson wants to see better play in the middle of the Colts defense and finding a productive player (in occupying blockers and absorbing double teams) to plug in the middle of the defensive line should go a long way in having an improved rush defense unit.