clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

2015 NFL training camp preview: Andrew Luck, Colts favored to win AFC South crown again

The Indianapolis Colts are aiming to take their division for the third season in a row. Here's what to watch for when training camp begins.

Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports

In recent years, the Indianapolis Colts haven't had to worry about much when it comes to their AFC South competition. But the Colts are still looking to make improvements to overtake the other giants in the conference -- especially the New England Patriots, who knocked them out of the playoffs last season and went on to win the Super Bowl.

Few have discussed whether the Tennessee Titans, Houston Texans and Jacksonville Jaguars can make things tough for them within the division. But that's for good reason. All three of those teams are deeply flawed, even if they've all appeared to get better this offseason.

The Titans have a new quarterback in Marcus Mariota, the Jaguars were plenty active in free agency once again and brought in some big names like Julius Thomas and the Texans have weapons on both sides of the ball as they aim to return to the playoffs. Still, they're going to have to make a big jump to unseat Andrew Luck and the Colts, a young and talented team that once again has the Super Bowl on their mind.

Here's what you should watch for with each AFC South team heading into training camp in late July:

AFC South

Indianapolis Colts

Start Date: Aug. 2

Location: Anderson University Kardatzke Wellness Center, Anderson, Ind.

Player you'll be buzzing about: WR Donte Moncrief - Things look much different for the Colts at wide receiver, but the coaches are raving about Moncrief. Chuck Pagano told reporters in March that "the sky is the limit" for the second-year receiver, who caught 32 passes for 444 yards and three touchdowns last season.

What to watch: Receiver isn't the only position on offense with a lot of turnover for the Colts. At running back, Frank Gore is the presumed starter, but the rest of the depth chart will be fun to watch itself shake out with Dan Herron, Zurlon Tipton, Vick Ballard and rookie sixth-round pick Josh Robinson all battling for position.

Most important position battle: Nose tackle - The Colts allowed 4.3 yards per rushing attempt, which ranked in the bottom 10 of the league. Neither Josh Chapman nor Montori Hughes established themselves as the obvious starter, so the pair will compete for the starting role again in 2015, along with fifth-round pick David Parry, who was very productive in his time at Stanford.

For more on the Colts, check out Stampede Blue.

Houston Texans

Start Date: Aug. 1

Location: Houston Methodist Training Center, Houston, Texas

Player you'll be buzzing about: DE Jared Crick -- J.J. Watt is a superstar and as good as it gets on defense, but Crick played opposite him as an injury replacement last season and played well. He should be even better in 2015.

What to watch: Houston has a talented roster from top to bottom, but there are a few major question marks heading into training camp. Everyone will be focused on the quarterback battle, but receiver and inside linebacker will also have open competition. Nate Washington should be able to establish himself as a starter at receiver and the Texans need to figure out who will play next to Brian Cushing at LB.

Most important position battle: Quarterback -- Like any team without a settled quarterback position, the Texans' biggest issue right now is under center. Brian Hoyer and Ryan Mallett don't inspire a ton of confidence, but they're what the Texans have to work with.

For more on the Texans, check out Battle Red Blog.

Tennessee Titans

Start Date: July 31

Location: Saint Thomas Sports Park, Nashville, Tenn.

Player you'll be buzzing about: RB David Cobb -- The Titans drafted Bishop Sankey last year, but this year's running back class was too good to pass up. Cobb could wind up taking the starting job sooner rather than later.

What to watch: There's a rookie wage scale in place, but the Titans went ahead and had a long drawn-out situation with first-round pick Marcus Mariota that was finally resolved a little over a week before training camp. Mariota is one of Tennessee's biggest headlines of the offseason, but the team also has to sort out the multiple spots open on its offensive line to ensure the first-year quarterback stays on his feet this season.

Most important position battle: Wide receiver -- By all accounts, Dorial Green-Beckham should end up being a starter for Tennessee, especially with Justin Hunter facing a felonious assault charge. Other new faces include veterans Hakeem Nicks and Harry Douglas, who both came to Tennessee this offseason.

For more on the Titans, check out Music City Miracles.

Jacksonville Jaguars

Start Date: July 31

Location: Florida Blue Health and Wellness Practice Field at Everbank Field, Jacksonville, Fla.

Player you'll be buzzing about: WR Allen Robinson: You'll be buzzing about Robinson only if you're not buzzing about him already. The second-year receiver looked stellar in the spring, which might be easy to ignore if Robinson hadn't flashed tremendous potential as a rookie in 2014.

What to watch: Robinson might draw the attention, but the obvious key to success for the Jaguars is the progression made by Blake Bortles. He has a new offensive coordinator in Greg Olson, who worked with Derek Carr in Oakland last season, so it's hard to know what to expect from the first quarterback taken in the 2014 NFL Draft. The Jaguars will be stuck in neutral if Bortles doesn't take a significant step forward, though.

Most important position battle: Center - The Jaguars' offensive line was shaky for much of 2014, but Luke Bowanko showed promise at center as a rookie. To keep his job, he'll have to beat out Stefen Wisniewski, a 26-year-old veteran who started 61 games for the Raiders in four years, but had a down year in 2014 while dealing with a shoulder injury. If he bounces back from the injury to play like he did in Oakland, the Jaguars may have nabbed a steal.

For more on the Jaguars, check out Big Cat Country.