The 2022 NFL preseason schedule is underway and the Indianapolis Colts are charting their path towards the regular season with three games that will help shape the roster and roles this year.
This is the moment every football fan waited months to arrive, especially those who follow the Colts. Matt Ryan provides Indianapolis with a franchise quarterback who can provide stability this team has lacked since Andrew Luck retired. Of course, this team still has some holes and subsequent questions that need answering. Like who will be the number two wide receiver, the kicker, back up tight end, the other outside cornerback, and the starting left tackle.
From the position battle at wide receiver to competitions at kicker, outside cornerback and left tackle, there are already a lot of great storylines thus far. Of course, we’re also keeping a close eye on Kwity Paye, Jonathan Taylor and so much more.
Let’s examine four Indianapolis Colts players who everyone needs to keep an eye on during the preseason.
Bernhard Raimann, left tackle
After the failed one-year experiment with Eric Fisher, general manager Chris Ballard is taking another swing at left tackle. It’s one of the most important positions in football and rookie Bernhard Raimann is fighting to be a lot more than the long-term solution.
The hope is that he’ll be the team’s starting left tackle of the future. At the very least, he’s a rotational offensive line that is able to fill the swing tackle role. At worst, he’s another player from a mid-major that doesn’t make it at the NFL level.
What everyone will be watching is how well he performs in the preseason. As of right now, Matt Pryor is set to start Week 1 as the team’s starting left tackle. What Raimann needs to do is show everyone that a) he can play at the NFL level and b) there is a future starting left tackle in his range of outcomes.
Danny Pinter, right guard
The Colts offensive line experienced several losses this offseason, including at right guard. Mark Glowinski signed with the New York Giants in free agency, creating a competition this summer to become the starter at right guard and Indiana native Danny Pinter is the favorite.
A former Ball State Cardinal, Pinter gets the first crack at the gig. He got in some opportunity to play last season at center for an injured Ryan Kelly and performed well, showing he can be a serviceable interior offensive lineman.
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While he didn’t show the ability to reach the second level, Pinter routinely blocked his guy and created running lanes for Johnathan Taylor. Hopefully, a full offseason of a normal NFL life and training is enough to take Pinter to the next level. One where he can improve upon his NFL abilities we saw last season.
Nick Cross, defensive back
While the selection of Nick Cross wasn’t met with much fanfare or celebration, it could prove to be another draft-day steal. Cross has thrust himself into the conversation of being a starter with multiple projections expecting him to compete with Julian Blackmon and Rodney McLeod.
These three players have put together a wonderful camp so far and how they perform in the preseason games should be very fun to watch. Of course, live action against other NFL teams is different and how Cross performs is worth monitoring.
Alec Pierce, wide receiver
Selected with the 53rd overall pick, wide receiver Alec Pierce entered training camp with high expectations as the team’s highest-drafted player. Bringing excellent size and speed (4.41 40-yard dash), there are some expectations for the rookie to become the No.2 receiver. Although, his performances thus far have been overshadowed by Parris Campbell and Ashton Dulin.
However, Pierce has been mainly going up against former Defensive Player of the Year, Stephon Gilmore in practice. The Colts are hoping this will accelerate Pierce’s rookie learning curve and enable him to “hit the ground running.” Pierce has been doing well in camp but now that he’ll be going up against an actual opponent it’ll be even more exciting to see how he performs.
With head coach Frank Reich saying that Matt Ryan will play about a quarter in Saturday’s game, there is a chance Pierce can get some snaps with him. Pierce has the tools to excel in the NFL and it’ll be fun to watch him showcase all them of this upcoming season.