AP NEWS
Click to copy

Colts Preview Capsule

August 22, 2019
1 of 2
FILE - In this Dec. 2, 2018, file photo, Indianapolis Colts outside linebacker Darius Leonard (53) reacts after forcing a turnover during the first half of the team's NFL football game against the Jacksonville Jaguars in Jacksonville, Fla. Leonard believes better fundamentals will help him reduce the number of missed tackles, and he hopes to create more turnovers. (AP Photo/Phelan M. Ebenhack, File)
1 of 2
FILE - In this Dec. 2, 2018, file photo, Indianapolis Colts outside linebacker Darius Leonard (53) reacts after forcing a turnover during the first half of the team's NFL football game against the Jacksonville Jaguars in Jacksonville, Fla. Leonard believes better fundamentals will help him reduce the number of missed tackles, and he hopes to create more turnovers. (AP Photo/Phelan M. Ebenhack, File)

INDIANAPOLIS COLTS (11-7)

New faces: DE Justin Houston, WRs Devin Funchess and Parris Campbell, CB Rock Ya-Sin, senior offensive assistant coach Howard Mudd.

Key losses: OL Matt Slauson, OL coaches Dave DeGuglielmo and Bobby Johnson, S Mike Mitchell, LB Najee Goode, DT Al Woods, TE Ryan Hewitt, WRs Ryan Grant and Dontrelle Inman.

Strengths: Colts offensive line went from worst to first — in sacks allowed — last season and should be better with same starters for second straight season. Addition of Funchess gives Andrew Luck or Jacoby Brissett another big threat in red zone and there’s deep pool of talented receivers. Brissett also has made big strides since starting 15 games in 2017. All-Pro linebacker Darius Leonard led league in tackles as rookie and expects to exceed that total in 2019. And deep, talented secondary could help defense make big jump.

Weaknesses: Injuries already have taken toll. Luck missed all offseason workouts, all of training camp with exception of three limited practices and might not be ready for Sept. 8 season opener. Kicker Adam Vinatieri, NFL’s career scoring leader, missed most of training camp with knee injury, All-Pro left guard Quenton Nelson has been slowed by ankle injury and WR Daurice Fountain has been lost for season with dislocated and fractured left ankle. Linebackers are young and depth could be problem.

Fantasy Players To Watch: WR Deon Cain and TE Jack Doyle. Regardless of which quarterback starts season, Doyle and Cain should be solid options. Cain has big-play skills and Doyle, 2017 Pro Bowler when Andrew Luck sat out, has been go-to target for Luck and Brissett during career. And both will be undervalued because they struggled with injuries in 2018.

Vegas Says: Win Super Bowl 12-1. Over/under wins 10.

Expectations: Big question, of course, is Luck’s lower left leg. If Luck is healthy, Colts will be favored to win AFC South and could emerge as Super Bowl contender. But even if Luck isn’t ready for season opener, this season shouldn’t be repeat of 2017 debacle. Why? Supporting cast is significantly stronger. Colts have top-five offensive line, deep pool of talented receivers, two Pro Bowl tight ends and solid backfield. Defense is much better, too. Addition of Houston should strengthen pass rush. And after finishing 11th overall last season, defense appears primed to finish in top 10.

___

More AP NFL: https://apnews.com/NFL and https://twitter.com/AP_NFL

All contents © copyright 2019 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.