1 burning question at each position entering Colts training camp

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The Indianapolis Colts have officially entered the month of July, which means training camp will be here before the end of the month.

Currently on their summer break after revising their spring workout schedule, the Colts have high expectations for a roster that features a new quarterback in Carson Wentz.

Even outside of the new quarterback, there are questions at every position that will need to be answered throughout training camp, the preseason and then leading into the regular season with an opener against the Seattle Seahawks at Lucas Oil Stadium.

Here is one burning question at each position entering training camp:

Quarterback: Which Carson Wentz will we get?

AP Photo/Darron Cummings

The biggest question to rule them all is the one we will start with first. Wentz is the biggest question mark for the Colts entering the 2021 season and likely is the one player who holds the fate of the team in his hands. It has been encouraging throughout the spring when it comes to Wentz connecting with his teammates and getting them to buy-in. That's big for a new quarterback. Now, he has to continue to prove each day he was worth two draft picks in a trade, one of which is likely to be a first-rounder. Hopefully, the new system with Frank Reich and the work he's done with 3DQB will help get Wentz back to form. But there is no guarantee this whole situation goes don perfectly, which makes this a massive question mark until we see Wentz working in a game.

Running Back: What will Marlon Mack's role be?

In the backfield, Jonathan Taylor will reprise his role as the lead back. I think he's a lock for 250 carries at a minimum even with the re-signing of Mack this offseason. It's hard to project what kind of role Mack will hold as he's coming off of a torn Achilles. He was a solid running back for the Colts in 2018 and 2019, but that doesn't mean he's going to take a massive workload from Taylor. That's not how the Colts have done it historically, and Taylor has earned the right to be the bellcow. Even if Mack beats out Nyheim Hines for the RB2 role in carries, his role likely won't be that big. The rush share for the Colts RB2 over the last three years has been 21.8%, 13% and 24.4%, respectively. And now coming off of a torn Achilles, there is no guarantee Mack will be the same player he was pre-injury. In fact, it would be a pleasant surprise if Mack looks like the player he was. This is certainly a big question mark when it comes to projecting the offense, but it wouldn't shock me if Mack wound up with 100 carries or fewer on the season.

Wide Receiver: Can Michael Pittman Jr. take over?

To be a true alpha wide receiver, a lot of things have to go a player's way. And there is a difference between leading a team in targets and being an alpha. An alpha is the unquestioned leader in the room without any hesitation. The way I like to view an alpha, more or less, is when a receiver earns a target share of 25% or higher and when the second-highest target share behind him is less than 20%. Pittman Jr. has the size and skills to be an alpha. But that may not translate to him taking over this massive target share. Given how the Colts prefer to spread the ball around, it's unlikely he becomes this target hog in the passing game to the tune of a Stefon Diggs or DeAndre Hopkins. This doesn't mean Pittman Jr. can't break out. He absolutely can. But the big question in the wide receiver room will be whether Pittman Jr. can actually become an alpha wide receiver and be the future that the Colts have been talking about.

Tight End: How much of an impact will Kylen Granson make?

AP Photo/Roger Steinman

The Colts have their starters in Jack Doyle and Mo Alie-Cox to lead the tight end room. But they used a fourth-round pick on Granson, who will fill the role of Trey Burton from 2020 while adding a bit more blocking as an H-back. Granson's abilities as a pass-catcher could help him carve out a role during his rookie season but given the stability of the room right now, the biggest question will be how impactful that role will be for the SMU product. Burton was on the field for roughly 30% of the snaps in 2020 and was used solely as a move tight end. He garnered 47 targets and an 8.5% target share. I'm not projecting Granson to see that much work in the passing game, though, because of all the mouths to feed ahead of him. Maybe he approaches that number with a strong preseason and steals some targets away from Doyle, but what kind of role he holds will be the biggest question coming out of the tight end room.

Offensive Line: Who will be the LT?

AP Photo/Doug Murray

With the retirement of Anthony Castonzo, the Colts brought in a handful of names to compete at left tackle. We know Eric Fisher will be the starter when he returns from rehabbing his Achilles injury, but it isn't fully clear when that will be. So in the meantime, the Colts will have a competition at left tackle. That battle will include Sam Tevi, Julién Davenport and Will Holden. Tevi looks like the clear favorite given the way the Colts have talked about him this offseason while Holden had some experience at left tackle with the Colts late in 2020. Davenport is a wild card and hasn't had much, if any, success during his young career. This battle will be important for the Colts coming out of training camp.

Defensive Line: Can the edge rush make an impact?

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Likely the biggest question mark holding the defense back from being an elite unit is a consistent edge rush. They have a strong interior with All-Pro DeForest Buckner and Grover Stewart, but they haven't had a consistent threat from the edge. They are hoping things will change this year after using first and second-round picks on Kwity Paye and Dayo Odeyingbo, respectively, during the draft. Paye looks to be heading toward a starting role while Odeyingbo is still working his way back from a torn Achilles. The Colts are also hoping that Kemoko Turay, Tyquan Lewis and Ben Banogu can put together a consistent group from the edge. Turay has dealt with injuries, Lewis has been solid in meeting challenges each year while Banogu is in a make-or-break campaign. If the Colts can get a consistent presence from their edge rushers, this defense will be humming.

Linebacker: Who emerges as the LB3?

AP Photo/Phelan M. Ebenhack

With how often defenses are in nickel packages in today's game, having a third linebacker that is constantly on the field isn't as prevalent. The Colts spend the majority of their time in nickel with five defensive backs on the field. But there is still an interesting competition brewing at the linebacker position behind starters Darius Leonard and Bobby Okereke. With Leonard working at WILL and Okereke at MIKE, the job for the SAM position is open. Right now, it belongs to Zaire Franklin, who also leads the team in special teams snaps. But it will be interesting to see if E.J. Speed finally makes some moves up the depth chart after being drafted in 2018. The linebacker room is pretty set, but this will be something to keep an eye on.

Cornerback: Is this Rock Ya-Sin's make or break year?

AP Photo/AJ Mast

The Colts used the No. 34 overall pick on Ya-Sin in the 2019 draft hoping he would be the leader of the cornerback room for years. That hasn't yet come to fruition as Ya-Sin has gone through an up and down start to his career. He has flashed plenty of promise over his first two seasons in the NFL, but he hasn't yet taken over as the CB1 on the boundary. This could very well be the make-or-break year for the Temple product as he competes for the starting role on the outside opposite Xavier Rhodes. The pass rush can help ease some of the pressure off the secondary, but the Colts need to find a consistent player on the boundary. Can Ya-Sin finally be that player?

Safety: Sean Davis or Shawn Davis?

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This will be the question throughout all of training camp. Which Davis will emerge as the third safety in the rotation behind starters Khari Willis and Julian Blackmon. The Colts signed the veteran Davis in free agency to add some depth to the room. He has been versatile working both as a free and strong safety, but his skill set might be best suited as the former in the Colts' scheme. The other Davis, the rookie fifth-round pick, is a hard-hitting aggressive defender. He might hold a role that would see him play closer to the line of scrimmage as a robber or enforcer. Both players could very well make the roster, but that means the Colts would carry five safeties. This will certainly be a position battle to watch.

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