INDIANAPOLIS — There are precious few questions surrounding the Indianapolis Colts’ roster this offseason.
Returning players accounted for 82.7% of the team’s snaps played in 2019, and open jobs are rare. There will be a training camp competition between undrafted rookie Rodrigo Blankenship and returning Chase McLaughlin, and it remains to be seen which of several candidates will replace departed veteran Jabaal Sheard at defensive end.
Returning Marlon Mack and second-round rookie Jonathan Taylor also will compete for the starting role in the offensive backfield, but it’s likely both running backs will see their fair share of opportunities.
The remaining starting jobs have at least a clear frontrunner, leaving the majority of battles to be fought filling special teams roles and depth slots.
Some of the most interesting of those decisions will be made at wide receiver.
The top of the depth chart is fairly clearly defined. Veteran T.Y. Hilton returns as the top target, and Zach Pascal carved out a role for himself with a breakout season in 2019. Michael Pittman Jr.’s spot is comfortably assured as a second-round pick, and the team still has high expectations for second-year speedster Parris Campbell.
That leaves a maximum of two spots available for a cast of candidates with varying resumes and plenty of credentials.
Dezmon Patmon will figure into the heart of the battle. A sixth-round pick out of Washington State, he boasts a 6-foot-4, 225-pound frame and a wealth of athleticism.
But he’s yet to have an opportunity to display those skills in person for the coaching staff. Like many rookies, he spent the spring sending videos of his workouts to his position coach and meeting with the full team in online video conferences.
He’s learned a lot from those experiences but admits nothing can fully replace physical reps.
“You can do all the Zoom classes you want all day and everything, but it’s different when you actually get a chance to go out there and run it and get the muscle memory down and stuff like that,” Patmon said. “It’s beneficial when you actually have guys you can go through stuff like that.”
Patmon has had a few opportunities to work out with his teammates. He spent time with Pittman and rookie quarterback Jacob Eason in throwing sessions on the West Coast shortly after the trio was drafted. He also had the chance to work out with a good chunk of the roster last week in informal practices organized by veteran quarterback Philip Rivers.
It’s unclear how many more of those chances Patmon and his teammates will get before training camp is scheduled to begin in late July. With coronavirus hotspots again popping up in parts of the country, the National Football League Players Association issued an advisory late last week encouraging players to cease private group workouts and wait for official sessions to begin with their teams.
If and when training camp does arrive, there will be restrictions in place, including a lack of fans in attendance. The Colts won’t train this season at Grand Park in Westfield, instead remaining at the Indiana Farm Bureau Football Center.