Updated 11:24 AM EST, Fri, Jan 15, 2021

Indianapolis Colts 2014 Season Preview: Fantasy Sleepers, and Predictions: Is this Trent Richardson’s Last Chance to Prove His Worth?

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With the NFL season fast approaching, Latino Post looks at the offseason moves that will make or break each team.

Indianapolis Colts

Last Season: 11-5 (1st in AFC South, lost in divisional round)

Key Additions: WR Hakeem Nicks, C Phil Costa, DE Arthur Jones, ILB D'Qwell Jackson, S Mike Adams, OT Jack Mewhort (2nd round), WR Donte Moncrief (3rd round), DE Jonathan Newsome (5th round)

Key Losses: RB Donald Brown, RB Tashard Choice, S Antone Bethea, G Mike McGlynn, G Jeff Linkenbach, C Samson Satele, ILB Kavell Conner, WR Darrius Heyward-Bey, CB Cassius Vaughn

Games to Watch: Sept. 7 at Denver, Oct. 5 vs. Baltimore, Oct. 19 vs. Cincinnati, Nov. 16 vs. New England

Three Questions Heading into the 2014-15 Season:

1.       Can Trent Richardson redeem himself?

Last September, Cleveland made a typical Cleveland move in trading cornerstone running back Trent Richardson to Indianapolis for a first-round draft pick. The Colts overlooked injury concerns, focusing instead on Richardson's 950 rushing-yard, 11-touchdown rookie campaign.

Indianapolis' front office doesn't make many mistakes. The Richardson trade is a rare exception.

The former All-American failed to break 70 yards in a single game last season. His yards per carry average dipped to 2.9 while reaching just a third of his touchdown total from 2012. Cleveland, meanwhile, used the Colts' draft selection on a young gunslinger from Texas A&M.

Richardson lost his starting job to Donald Brown in Week 13, and with reasonable cause. Brown outplayed him by a wide margin, recording 79 more rushing yards and twice as many scores (6) on 55 fewer carries.

Brown left for San Diego during the offseason and Indianapolis' No. 2 option, Ahmad Bradshaw, is coming off a season-ending neck injury. A hefty sum brought T-Rich to the Colts, now it's time to return the favor whether he is ready or not.

2.       Who will protect Andrew Luck?

An abysmal offensive line allowed Andrew Luck to be sacked 32 times last season, eighth most among AFC quarterbacks. They also gave up 109 quarterback hits, second most behind Houston and Cleveland.

A team coveting Luck as the face of the franchise hasn't done much to protect him.

Losing left guard Donald Thomas to a quad injury didn't help matters. They started a rookie in the remaining 14 games and may have to do so again this season; Thomas will miss the entire 2014 season after re-tearing his right quad during training camp.

Center Samson Satele and guard Mike McGlynn are gone, but that may be a good thing. Neither did much up the middle. The Colts addressed the issue in drafting Ohio State tackle Jack Mewhort with the hope he'll move over to guard, mainly because tackle positions are one of their few strengths up front.

Second-year guard Khaled Holmes takes over Satele's center position, though his opening day status is in question following an ankle injury. Anthony Castonzo and Gosder Cherilus surrendered a respectable seven sacks. The latter is somewhat surprising given that Cherilus played himself out of Detroit.

Luck is one hit away from making the Colts' season obsolete. It's a lot of pressure to put on an unproven front line.

3.       How does Indianapolis cope without Robert Mathis?

One would think NFL players would know better than to use performance-enhancing drugs by now. Robert Mathis learned the hard way, earning a four-game suspension for taking a banned substance.

The 33-year-old reached career-highs in sacks (19.5) and assists (16), earning a fourth-straight Pro Bowl invitation. Whether drugs played a role or not, Mathis disproved theories that his play would decline with Dwight Freeney's departure.  

Now, Indianapolis is scrambling to fill his void. If they learned anything last season, it's that defensive struggles go beyond finding a linebacker.

Forgotten in their memorable wild card victory over Kansas City is an abhorrent defense whose futile attempts Alex Smith led to four passing touchdowns, 513 total yards, and 30 first downs. By the way, the Colts' first two home games are against Denver and Philadelphia- the NFL's No. 1 and No. 2 ranked offenses a year ago.

Replacing Mathis is Bjoern Werner, a 2013 first-round pick who collected 2.5 sacks in 13 appearances. Former Brown D'Qwell Jackson signed a four-year, $22 million deal to shore up the inside linebacker position, though it's a mystery how he'll adjust to the Colts' 3-4 scheme.

Fantasy sleeper:

Trent Richardson- RB

Richardson is a steal solely because the Colts' don't have any other viable options. Indianapolis can't depend on Luck's arm too heavily and they've shown a commitment to the run.

Barring injuries, there isn't reason to believe Richardson won't improve. He's had a full summer to learn the playbook-a reason he gave for his inability to produce last season-and appears healthier than ever. If Luck can utilize Richardson's pass-catching skills, he'll be a steal as RB2 option.

Prediction: 11-5

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