Heading into the 2021 season, the Indianapolis Colts are at a crossroads.
In terms of good, the Colts locked up former All-Pro linebacker Darius Leonard to a five-year, $99.25 million extension.
Both are expected to be sidelined for 5-12 weeks.
The Colts come into the season following a 2020 that saw them earn the seventh seed in the AFC playoffs.
As they look to return to the postseason, they’ll now be doing so with a few more speed bumps.
On August 15, Indianapolis will take on Carolina Panthers in Week 1 of the preseason.
The Colts will be playing at home and kickoff will be at 1:00 p.m. ET.
In their matchup against the Panthers, Indianapolis should be focusing on these three things as they game plan how to approach the 2021 season.
3. Get Out Healthy
Of course, this is true for every team playing in the preseason; but especially for the Colts.
Wentz, a former number two overall pick, was acquired from the Philadelphia Eagles this offseason and is expected to be the team’s quarterback of the future after Philip Rivers’ retirement.
Nelson, a former first-round pick of the Colts, has been a Pro Bowler and named an All-Pro in all three seasons of his NFL career.
Both players are huge losses for Indianapolis and they cannot afford to lose anyone else.
Last season, there were 30 concussions, 11 ACL tears, and 16 MCL tears during the preseason.
The Colts cannot afford to add to that statistic in 2021 and must come out of their game against the Panthers unscathed.
2. Figure Out Who The Leader Is At Quarterback
In the wake of Wentz’s injury, the Colts are now tasked with finding his replacement.
If they stay in-house, their currently options are Jacob Eason, Brett Hundley, or Sam Ehlinger.
Eason was a fourth-round pick of the Colts in 2020 and is the current favorite to be the team’s starter.
— Locked On Colts Podcast (@LockedOnColts) April 30, 2020
Eason spent four years in college, three at Georgia and one at Washington, throwing for 5,590 yards and a 39/16 TD/INT ratio.
Hundley is a four-year veteran of the NFL, spending time with the Green Bay Packers, Seattle Seahawks, and Arizona Cardinals.
He has appeared in 18 games and started nine, completing 59.1 percent of his passes for 1,902 yards and a 9/13 TD/INT ratio.
Ehlinger was a sixth-round pick of the Colts in the 2021 NFL Draft.
In his four years at Texas, Ehlinger completed 62.5 percent of his passes for 11,436 yards and a 94/27 TD/INT ratio.
Whether it’s Eason, the other two quarterbacks, or potentially someone not on the roster yet, the Colts need to use Week 1 of the preseason to evaluate who is going to be their signal-caller with Wentz on the sidelines.
1. See If Kylen Granson Is Legit
Kylen Granson was a fourth-round pick of the Colts in the 2021 NFL Draft.
Granson spent two years at Rice and two years at Southern Methodist while in college.
In 37 games, Granson caught 129 passes for 1,879 yards and 16 touchdowns.
According to 1075 The Fan’s Kevin Bowen, Granson has made a strong impression in training camp and the Colts picture him having an early season in the offense.
Jake Arthur of Sports Illustrated reported that Granson has looked like the Colts, “most impressive tight end.”
"Rookie tight ends don't always make an immediate impact, but [Kylen] Granson has been the Colts' most impressive tight end so far. Jack Doyle has been fine, as has Mo Alie-Cox considering some drops, but Granson looks like he could be a playmaker." https://t.co/P7JIt8HIgi
— Jared Smola (@SmolaDS) August 5, 2021
Every offseason, numerous players are hyped up for how they look in shorts.
For Granson, Week 1 of the preseason will give him an opportunity to prove he is legit.
With Jack Doyle going on his age-32 season next year with a dead cap of just $750,000, the Colts will get their first look at a player who could potentially be the future at tight end for Indianapolis.