As NFL fans sit amid a global pandemic wondering how the 2020 season will be played out, teams are preparing themselves for the start of training camp. Players come to training camp looking to get better and prepare for the upcoming season. Today, we will look at the faces of the Indianapolis Colts. These players are considered leaders on and off the field. When the team needs a play to be made, these are the players that teammates, coaches, and fans expect to shine big when the bright lights are on. Here we look at the three faces of the 2020 Indianapolis Colts.
Faces of the Franchise: 2020 Indianapolis Colts
Since joining the Colts as a third-rounder in the 2012 NFL Draft, T.Y. Hilton has been their most consistent offensive playmaker year-in and year-out. The five-foot, 10-inch speedster out of Florida International has racked up five 1,000-yard seasons in eight years. He led the NFL in yards in 2016 with 1448 yards. Although Hilton has never surpassed seven touchdowns in a season, his high-level consistency is something the Colts have always relied on. Whether it is torching Richard Sherman in 2013 or single-handily dismantling the Houston Texans, Hilton demands respect on the field. Earning the nickname “The Ghost,” whenever the ball is in Hilton’s hands, it is almost impossible to catch him when he is at full speed.
As a rookie, Hilton was groomed to be a star receiver by Colts legend, Reggie Wayne who was groomed by Marvin Harrison. Because of this, Hilton can carry on the tradition of Pro Bowl level of play by Colts wide receivers. Now Hilton will be tasked to groom young wide receivers on the roster such as Parris Campbell and Michael Pittman Jr. His speed is what novice fans know Hilton for. However, Hilton’s route running and ability to create yards after the catch are extremely underrated. His patented “T.Y.” touchdown celebration is a staple in the Lucas Oil Stadium. Hilton enters a contract year in 2020 but has stated he wants to retire a Colts. He is an undisputed leader of the offense. As the leading playmaker on the Colts, it is imperative to get the ball into Hilton’s hands.
It is hard to fathom that a guard is considered one of the faces of the 2020 Indianapolis Colts. However, in Quenton Nelson‘s case, it would be disrespectful not to mention him. Nelson is already considered the best guard in the entire NFL. He is a tone-setter on the offensive line. Nelson does not have any weaknesses in his game, as he is a tenacious run blocker and exceptional pass protector. The moment Nelson got on the field for the Colts, he changed the mentality of the franchise. The Colts quickly became one of the best offensive line units in the NFL after being abysmal for several years during the Andrew Luck era.
With a trio of young running backs in Marlon Mack, Nyheim Hines, and rookie Jonathan Taylor, fans should expect the Colts to dominate on the ground and control the clock. Newly acquired quarterback Philip Rivers will find himself in an unfamiliar situation. Rivers never had an offensive line with the Los Angeles Chargers that had this talent. With Quenton Nelson leading the way, the sky is the limit for this Colts offense. It is hard to believe Nelson is only entering his third year in the league. His leadership and IQ will help the young players on this team. Because of this, expect the Colts offense to bounce back after how they played in 2019.
Following his All-Pro rookie season, Darius Leonard aka “The Maniac” made his second All-Pro team in as many seasons. He has totaled 284 tackles, 12 sacks, and seven interceptions in two seasons. Leonard is the definition of a playmaker at the WILL linebacker position. Leonard came onto the scene in 2018 against the Washington Football Team totaling 19 total tackles, a forced fumble, and a sack.
His attitude and fiery personality on the field is infectious to the rest of the defense. Consequently, his teammates feed off that energy and play with the same level of intensity. Fellow Colts linebacker, Anthony Walker, has seen tremendous growth and improvement playing next to Darius Leonard. Because of Leonard’s length and speed, he can cover the field from sideline to sideline. Typically fast defensive players will give up strength in the run game. However, this is not the case for The Maniac as his instinct for stopping the run is one of his best attributes.
Widely considered as “the worst draft pick of the 2018 NFL Draft,” Darius Leonard has continuously proved the experts wrong. When a player like Leonard always feels disrespected and plays with a chip on his shoulder, it is bad news for the opposition. Leonard is the type of player who will not stop until he is considered the best at his position. Even then, he will just find another motivational factor to continue to push himself to new heights. When one of the best players and leaders on the team has this mentality, it only pushes the younger players to strive to become better. Considering the Colts have one of the youngest rosters in the NFL, Leonard’s leadership and constant hunger for growth will only help the franchise inch closer to grabbing the Lombardi Trophy.
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