The Indianapolis Colts open training camp on Aug. 2 at Anderson University in Anderson, Indiana. Here’s a closer look at the Colts camp, which wraps up on Aug. 14:
Top storyline: Colts owner Jim Irsay isn’t labeling this season "Super Bowl or bust" for the franchise. But while it’s true they’ll always be competitive as long as franchise quarterback Andrew Luck is on the roster, the Colts are in their best position of reaching the Super Bowl since taking Luck with the No. 1 overall pick in 2012. They upgraded at receiver and running back by signing Andre Johnson and Frank Gore, and got help in the pass rush department with the addition of Trent Cole. Luck, who is heading into his fourth season, has his best supporting cast on offense in his young NFL career. Questions linger about the offensive line, which started 11 different groups last season, and a defense that has been embarrassed by some of the best pocket-passing quarterbacks in the NFL and was run over by New England last year. The Colts likely will have only two new starters -- safety Dwight Lowery and defensive end Kendall Langford -- on that unit this season.
Position battles to watch: The only true battle for a starting spot is at center where Khaled Holmes and Jonotthan Harrison are the two primary candidates. Holmes went into training camp last year as the starter only to end up losing his job when he suffered a high-ankle sprain on the first series of the preseason opener. The injury set Holmes back more than a month. Holmes didn’t get the starting job back until Week 16 after Harrison struggled delivering clean snaps to Luck. Holmes started the final five games of the season and heads into training camp with an edge over Harrison.
Veterans to watch: Linebacker Robert Mathis was first suspended for four games for using performance-enhancing drugs last season. Then his 2014 season ended when he tore his Achilles while working out during his suspension. Mathis, who led the NFL in sacks with 19.5 in 2013, didn't take part in any of the team's offseason workouts, but he fully expects to be on the field for the Colts' Week 1 game at Buffalo. It's uncertain what type of player Mathis will be once he returns because he's 34 years old, didn't play last season and he's coming off an injury that impacts one of his strongest skills: speed.
Rookies to watch: The Colts raised some eyebrows when they selected University of Miami receiver Phillip Dorsett with the No. 29 pick in the first round. Dorsett’s talent can’t be questioned -- he ran a 4.33 40-yard dash at the combine -- but the Colts had more pressing needs on the offensive and defensive lines that could have been addressed with their first pick. Dorsett will be the Colts’ kick and punt returner, but he needs to crack the receiver rotation in order to validate being taken in the first round. That means Dorsett will have to beat out Donte Moncrief and Duron Carter to be the Colts’ third or fourth receiver behind T.Y. Hilton and Andre Johnson. Safety Clayton Geathers, who was selected in the fourth round, may be hard to keep off the field. The Colts already envision using him as a "dime linebacker" because he's athletic enough to defend tight ends.
Bubble watch: Guard Donald Thomas’ resume consists of two games, a torn bicep and two torn quads in two seasons with the Colts. And, oh yeah, he signed a four-year, $14 million contract with the team in 2013. Thomas will enter training camp behind the rest of the offensive linemen because he didn’t take part in the offseason workouts while still working his way back from his torn quad. The odds are further stacked against Thomas because Indianapolis signed guards Todd Herremans and Ben Heenan to go with returning players Hugh Thornton, Lance Louis and Joe Reitz.
Coach watch: Colts owner Jim Irsay basically silenced the talk surrounding coach Chuck Pagano's contract status when he said “we hope we have a great year and I hope that eventually leads to a contract for Chuck” back in June. Pagano, who is in his final year under contract, turned down the Colts' one-year contract extension last spring. The last thing the Colts and Pagano needs is for his contract situation to become a distraction when they have the talent on their roster to make a run at the Super Bowl this season. But that will become the case if the Colts get off to a slow start. Pagano likely will be able to land any available job -- with the Colts or another team -- if Indianapolis reaches the Super Bowl, which some believe is possible this season.
For daily updates at camp, check out the Indianapolis Colts clubhouse page.