Colts camp: Three key goals and top battle

Getting QB Andrew Luck ready for the start of the season is key for the Colts.Photo: Trevor Ruszkowski-USA TODAY Sports

Looking at the Colts' priorities

Three goals:

  • Stay healthy. Injuries have hit the Colts hard in recent training camps. Head coach Frank Reich is cautiously optimistic that Indianapolis can avoid the injury bug this year. "That's what we're hoping and optimistic for because (the season is) a long grind. You need every player. So we need to evaluate everybody working together. Training camp obviously will be a good time for that," he said.

  • Get Luck ready to return. After missing a full season of practice and playing, getting quarterback Andrew Luck back to the form that he displayed before his shoulder injury is paramount. Physically, Luck looks the part. Now it's just a matter of getting back into the routine of practice and preparing to play in a game again. "The course is charted and the plan is set," Reich said. "I know him. I know he's going to stick to the plan and get it done."

  • Prepare the defense for a new scheme. While Indianapolis is going back to a familiar 4-3 Cover 2 alignment, it won't be a carbon copy of the scheme that was in place during Tony Dungy and Jim Caldwell's tenures as head coach. There will be plenty of tweaks put in place by first-year defensive coordinator Matt Eberflus. "I believe we have a good understanding of where we are with the players in terms of their learning level, in terms of their physical level (and) in terms of their athletic ability," Eberflus said. "We are looking at who complements who and who can play the positions."

Top battle:

--Right guard. Matt Slauson was added as a veteran free agent from the Chargers in the offseason and will add some much needed size and nastiness to a young offensive line. Slauson would appear to be the starter at right guard heading into camp. But rookie draft pick Braden Smith was the second guard taken by Indianapolis in the draft in April behind top pick Quenton Nelson and is very highly thought of by Colts front-office officials. Slauson and Smith are expected to fight it out for the job long term.

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