What a difference a year makes.
At this time 12 months ago, the Indianapolis Colts descended upon Anderson University for training camp breaking in a new quarterback, a new coaching staff and a new general manager.
After 2011 wrought a 2-14 record and a constant distraction in the What-Will-They-Do-With-Peyton hubbub, the 2012 team was too young to grasp its inexperience, leading to an 11-5 regular season mark and a playoff berth despite head coach Chuck Pagano missing 12 games recovering from leukemia.
Now, the core of an up-and-coming roster remains intact for 2013. Here are four position battles to watch:
Right guard: Mike McGlynn vs. Hugh Thornton
Anthony Castonzo and Donald Thomas will start at left tackle and left guard, Samson Satele is installed at center and Gosder Cherilus will be the right tackle.
The first-stringer at right guard isn’t as clear.
Last season, incumbent right guard McGlynn started all 16 games for the first time in his career. But that doesn’t mean they were productive snaps.
Pro Football Focus ranked the Colts’ 2012 offensive line as the second-worst in the NFL while dealing McGlynn a rating of -25.1.
Thornton is a rookie out of Illinois, and his journey is the very definition of personal tragedy. He was present when his mother and sister were murdered in Jamaica, and was also abused by his father.
Scouts claim the only thing holding Thornton back is consistent technique.
Projected starter: Thornton. It’ll be worth early headaches for quarterback Andrew Luck to have an eventual solid starter on the line instead of a clear backup netting major snaps.