As fans come out to Anderson University to get their first glimpses of the remade 2012 Indianapolis Colts, most will be wanting a good, long look at Andrew Luck, the team's number one draft choice and heir apparent to Peyton Manning. That's understandable. Luck's ability to develop on the fly will be a major determining factor in how the Colts fare in 2012.
Colts 101 has identified five players to watch, however, who could make a big difference in Luck's progress and the overall effectiveness of the team.
Samson Satele: If Satele does his job, fans will remain focused on Andrew Luck and forget that Jeff Saturday is also no longer handling the football on every snap. Satele enters his sixth NFL season with a lot to prove. One of the first free agent acquisitions by new GM Ryan Grigson, he'll not only be snapping the ball to Luck, but have the responsibility for line calls and blocking adjustments at the line of scrimmage, something Saturday excelled at doing. With new guards most likely on either side of him, expect some growing pains as the Colts' new line mates learn to play together. Luck and the rest of the Colts hope that's a quick learning curve, however.
TY Hilton: The third round pick out of Florida International has the potential to be a game changer. Hilton will immediately be called upon to make a difference as a return man, an area where the Colts have struggled in recent years. If Hilton can pick up Bruce Arians offense quickly, he represents the best big play threat among Luck's potential targets. Look for Hilton to work toward a role similar to that of Mike Wallace of Pittsburgh, who was also a third round draft choice under Arians.
Vick Ballard: Ballard will start the season behind Donald Brown and will be battling second year back Delone Carter to get on the field. He showed in mini-camp though the kind of quickness through the hole and acceleration that neither of his competitors possesses. Ballard is also an accomplished pass receiver out of the backfield. He could make some noise as a third down back early on, and if Brown falters, could be starting by season's end.
Josh Chapman: As training camp opens, getting a look at Chapman will require scanning the sidelines or finding him getting into game shape. Chapman is still recovering from off season knee surgery and will start camp on the PUP list. He can be activated at any time during training camp, but if he's not ready by the beginning of the season, then the Colts will be without him for at least six more weeks. Antonio Johnson and the newly acquired Brandon McKinney promise to be placeholders until Chapman, the prototypical nose tackle in the Colts' new 3-4 alignment, is ready to go full speed. If Chapman is on the active roster for the Bears game, that bodes well for the Colts in 2012.
Pat Angerer: Angerer will finally be turned loose in the new Colts' defensive scheme to do what he does best: hunt down opposing ball carriers and attack them with extreme prejudice. As we wrote here, too many times in the previous Cover 2 scheme, Angerer was being asked to drop into pass coverage and not be near the point of attack. That won't be the case this season. Even in last season's more passive scheme, Angerer was fourth in the NFL with 148 tackles. That number could be topped by a wide margin this season.
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