The Indianapolis Colts come into the 2019 season with a chip on their shoulder. Frank Reich enters his second season as the head coach after having a successful first season at the helm in 2018.
Coming into 2019, there was a lot of uncertainty surrounding the Colts. First, the health of Andrew Luck was a major concern for the franchise. Then, could the offensive line protect Luck enough to keep him upright?
Both of those concerns were washed away after Luck had a near career-year in certain categories. The most important part was that the offensive line was unbelievable, allowing just 18 sacks all season.
The emergence of Marlon Mack also propelled the Colts into contention later in the season. After starting the season at 2-5, Indianapolis rallied behind Luck to finish the season with a 10-6 record. That was good enough for the Colts to land in the playoffs.
The Colts would then defeat the Houston Texans in the AFC Wild Card round but would be sent home by the Kansas City Chiefs the following week. Nonetheless, Reich and the whole organization can chalk up 2018 as a smashing success.
With training camps right around the corner, there are a few players who have the most to gain from training camp. Here are those three players for the Colts.
3. Zaire Franklin
Darius Leonard wasn’t the only rookie linebacker who provided some contributions to the Colts defense in 2018. Zaire Franklin, the Colts seventh-round pick, started in a couple of games in his rookie campaign.
Of course, Franklin didn’t produce at the level of Leonard in 2018. After all, Leonard won the Defensive Rookie of the Year Award in 2018 for his 163 tackles, seven sacks, four forced fumbles, and two interceptions.
This season, Franklin is projected to start at strongside linebacker alongside Leonard. Last season, Franklin had 29 tackles throughout the whole season. Heading into training camp, Franklin will need to show the coaching staff he can be a key contributor to the defense.
2. Parris Campbell
The Colts have been trying to find offensive weapons to complement Luck and T.Y. Hilton on the offensive side of the ball. Last season, guys like Eric Ebron and Marlon Mack became key cogs in the Colts offense.
This offseason, Indianapolis added Devin Funchess in free agency and drafted Parris Campbell. With a crowded offense, Campbell could use this training camp to move his way up the depth chart into the slot receiver position.
The speedy wideout out of Ohio State figures to have somewhat of a role in the offense due to his blazing speed. Campbell ran a 4.31 40-yard dash at the NFL Combine. Putting him alongside Hilton seems like it’d be a match made in heaven.
Nonetheless, Campbell will need to earn his role on the offense by performing well during training camp.
1. Malik Hooker
Coming into the NFL, Malik Hooker had injury issues while he attended Ohio State in college. After his final season at Ohio State, Hooker received surgeries for a sports hernia and a torn labrum in his hip.
Nonetheless, the Colts used the 15th overall pick on Hooker during the 2017 NFL Draft. Hooker was playing phenomenally for Indianapolis in his rookie year until he tore his ACL and MCL in his right knee—causing him to miss the last nine games.
Then, Hooker returned in 2018, only to have a lingering hip issue that slowed the safety down all season. In the end, Hooker missed the AFC Divisional Round game against the Chiefs due to a foot injury. Hooker can’t seem to catch a break but the safety says he’s the “healthiest he’s been since college.”
This will be the first full offseason that Hooker has had with the Colts since coming into the NFL in 2017. The third-year safety could use training camp to get back in the groove of things and return to his dominant form on the field.