The 8 most important Colts on offense

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The Indianapolis Colts are just getting underway at the beginning of training camp this week.

Head coach Frank Reich will be tooling up his offense to utilize the talent on the side of the ball as best as he can this season over the next month. Certain players will have to earn their spot in the starting lineup and for a role in the offense.

But for others, they are counted on to perform at a high level. Here are the most important players on the offensive side of the ball for Indianapolis:

RB Jonathan Taylor

AP Photo/Aaron Doster

There is no secret that the Colts’ offense runs through their star running back. Jonathan Taylor’s presence on the field causes defenses to put eight men in the box and that is something that Matt Ryan can take advantage of.

In his first two seasons, he has averaged 5.3 yards per attempt, and that ability to put his team in a favorable position in second and third-down situations. He can hit a home run at any point and never wavers in the fourth quarter when Indianapolis can put away a team on the ground. Taylor is the engine of the offense and this team can go as far as he can carry them.

QB Matt Ryan

There is a strong argument that Matt Ryan should be the most important player on the Indianapolis offense because he plays the most important position in football. The veteran quarterback is looking to have a late-career resurgence and help put his new team back in the playoffs. As great as Jonathan Taylor is, there are games when the offense needs the passing attack to take over and that cost the team in the 2021 season. Ryan has heard a lot of praise from his teammates this summer.

Nyheim Hines said this about his new quarterback: “Matt’s gonna be a great commander and leader of this offense. We’ve worked with him for eight weeks and I’m already ready to run through a brick wall for him.”

The leadership from Matt Ryan paired along with his style of quarterback play should help put this team over the hump.

LG Quenton Nelson

AP Photo/Gary McCullough

Jonathan Taylor can create his own yards but it also helps when you have the best guard in the game carving out rushing lanes as well. Quenton Nelson made an immediate impact as a rookie and helped shift the culture within the organization.

Even though he might not say much when it comes to the media, we were able to see the great leadership that he has when the Colts were featured on the first edition of the in-season Hard Knocks last year. He has the respect of Frank Reich where his head coach will listen to anything that Nelson suggests. He will be looking to earn All-Pro honors for the fourth time in five seasons.

WR Michael Pittman Jr.

AP Photo/Jed Jacobsohn

The Colts are looking to enhance their passing attack this season with the addition of Matt Ryan and with Michael Pittman Jr. taking the next step in his third season. There has been plenty of chatter that the offense needs another veteran receiver but even if Chris Ballard decides to bring one in, Pittman Jr. will still be the most important player in the passing attack for Ryan. He has spent the spring developing chemistry with his new quarterback and the pair will be looking to build upon it during training camp. Pittman Jr. is set to have a breakout season and become more of a household name by the end of the year.

C Ryan Kelly

AP Photo/Darron Cummings

Matt Ryan has been one of the most durable quarterbacks over the last decade and it is surprising that the last game he missed was during the 2019 season. Since 2019, he was sacked 129 times. Which are the most for a quarterback in the last three seasons. The veteran quarterback should be very happy that he has a one-two punch on the interior of his offensive line with Quenton Nelson and Ryan Kelly. The seventh-year center does a great job initiating contact and getting a drive to create space for his running back. Kelly’s experience combined with Matt Ryan’s should help improve the pass protection this season.

RT Braden Smith

AP Photo/Darryl Webb

The love for the Colts’ offensive line continues with Braden Smith. There was a point in NFL history where the right tackle spot was more of an afterthought. But that has shifted with it being more of a pass-friendly league and defenses having an elite edge rusher that they can line up on that side of the ball. Smith has been an anchor on that side of the line and it was noticeable when he missed six games in 2021. With the competition at the left tackle and right guard spots, Frank Reich needs his right tackle to be as healthy as possible throughout the year.

RB Nyheim Hines

Syndication: The Indianapolis Star

The Colts have one of the best running back tandems in the NFL but it doesn’t get talked about often because of the “down” year that Nyheim Hines had in 2022. He had a career-low in receptions and receiving yards. It wasn’t his fault though, it was a mixture of not having a steady gameplan for him and Carson Wentz passing on the layups to Hines. While he is an underrated runner, he can be very deadly as a receiver in open space. Frank Reich understands he needs to be creative with how he can get Hines the ball and plans on it.

Earlier this summer, he mentioned, “If I was a fantasy owner, if I was going to be in a fantasy league, I think I’d pick Nyheim this year. I think I’d consider drafting Nyheim. I think it’s worth to consider drafting him,”.

Between the quotes from Hines on Matt Ryan and from his head coach, he’s set to have a larger role in 2022.

TE Mo Alie-Cox

AP Photo/Rick Scuteri

If the passing attack is going to add a different element to the offense in 2022 then it will be the veterans in the skill position groups to deliver. The tight end room is now Mo Alie-Cox’s and he will bear more responsibilities following Jack Doyle’s retirement. His explosive playmaking ability has been on display when he’s gotten the opportunity. Since 2019 he has averaged 12.7 yards per reception, which is tied for the fifth highest in the NFL. With a second-year player and a pair of rookies behind him on the depth chart, Alie-Cox has to make a larger impact during the upcoming season.

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