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Indianapolis Colts' biggest X-factors that will define 2024 season | Sporting News

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Indianapolis Colts' biggest X-factors that will define 2024 season | Sporting News


The Indianapolis Colts are looking to build upon the promising things they showed in the first season under Shane Steichen.

The franchise hasn’t been to the playoffs since 2020 and the last time they won the AFC South was in 2014. 

If that is going to change in 2024, they will need certain X-factors to go their way and take them to the next stage of the Steichen era.

MORE: Winners and losers from Colts’ offseason workouts

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Whether it’s one player, a position group, or a coach, let’s take a look at the biggest X-factors for the Colts for the upcoming season: 

Colts’ biggest X-factors in 2024

Anthony Richardson’s health and development 

2024 for the Colts will be defined by Richardson’s health. Sure, they could be competitive with Joe Flacco as we saw what Shane Steichen did with Gardner Minshew in 2023. But having a healthy AR over a 39-year-old Flacco can be the difference that leads to Indianapolis ending their drought of winning the division.   

The slight scare from Richardson resting during the minicamp last week is all the Colts hope they deal with his shoulder this year. Outside of health concerns, his development as a quarterback is just as important to this season’s success. 

With more consistency in certain areas of his game, he can help elevate the passing attack as a threat to take the top off the defense with his arm while they have to respect what he can do with his legs. Richardson’s development as a passer can lead to a more explosive offense for the Colts. 

Growth from young pieces in Colts secondary

If the Indy defense is going to take the next step in the third season under Gus Bradley, they will need the youth in the secondary to show some growth in 2024. It starts with the boundary cornerbacks, which is going to be a position battle between JuJu Brents, Dallis Flowers, and Jaylon Jones during the preseason. 

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The trio has faith from their defensive coordinator. Following the NFL draft, Bradley spoke about the competition between them. 

“I think it’s really wide open,” Bradley said. “You have (Dallis Flowers) coming back and JuJu and JJ (Jaylon Jones). We really like that part of it. I think for us it’s the skillset, the length, the speed. Now it’s just the consistency. Who is going to step up and be that guy that takes the next step there as a corner?

Getting consistency from that part of the defense is what the Colts need and they are betting on a group of cornerbacks that don’t have a lot of experience to be the starting-caliber players they view them as. 

Growth from their boundary corners isn’t the only part of the secondary that Indianapolis is leaning on in 2024, whether it is Nick Cross or Rodney Thomas II, they need whoever wins the free safety role to make an impact. 

Cross showed some flashes towards the end of 2023. He has the skill set to develop into a starting-caliber player. The team has shown patience with him and hasn’t been pressed to sign a veteran despite losing Daniel Scott in OTAs. 

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Even if Chris Ballard elects to bring a veteran in at some point this summer, having Cross take the next step in his development will be vital because he still would work in the rotation and might be needed if said veteran had to miss any time. 

The dynamic of an Anthony Richardson, Jonathan Taylor backfield

Two snaps. That is all the Colts got to see Anthony Richardson and Jonathan Taylor sharing the backfield at the same time in 2023. The electric playmaking ability the ground game can see from both players keeps your imagination running on what Shane Steichen’s offense will look like in 2024. 

Not only do both help open rushing lanes for each other but the RPO game will be enhanced because of their presence as well as the play-action attack will lead to more explosive pass plays if teams start to load the box to slow down the rushing attack. 

As long as AR and JT remain healthy, the offense has the potential to be a top-five offense in the NFL this season. 

Charlie Partridge’s impact as defensive line coach

The Indy defensive front is deep and offers a lot of potential for the 2024 season. Despite the Colts finishing with 51 sacks in 2023, the fifth-most in the NFL and a franchise record, they elected to move on from Nate Ollie and hired Charlie Partridge as their new defensive line coach. 

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The long-time college coach was an assistant head coach and defensive line coach for the University of Pittsburgh. The lure of Partridge is his ability to develop players. He’s worked with players like J.J. Watt and Trey Hendrickson. 

“Look at his history of developing players,’’ Chris Ballard said. “This guy has coached some really good players and they all tell you he’s one of the best ones they’ve ever had.”

Outside of DeForest Buckner, you can point out certain areas each player on the defensive front could improve upon, and if Partridge can get that out of each of them then he can turn a good defensive front into an elite one. 

In 2023 we saw Tony Sparano Jr. fix the offensive line in his first year with the Colts. While the defensive line doesn’t need to be fixed, Partridge can help elevate the defense by getting his defensive line to dominate every snap to help take the pressure off the young players in the secondary. 

Anthony Gould and NFL’s new kickoff rule

Could a fifth-round pick already be an X-factor as a rookie? The NFL is looking to bring back kick returns with the new rule for kickoffs in 2024. Which is why Gould can end up making more of an impact than some of his draft classmates. 

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His 4.39 40-yard speed and experience as a returner (averaged 16.3 punt return yards) made him an ideal candidate for the new kickoff the league will see. This is something that Gould believes he can provide value to start his pro career. 

“I think I can add a ton of value that way,” Gould said. “The way I look at it, it’s almost like a glorified punt. A lot of guys are going to be a lot closer in space, guys aren’t getting 20-, 25-yard head starts running towards you, so blocks are going to get picked up cleaner. It’s going to be interesting.”

Because of his electric playmaking ability with the ball in his hands, Gould’s returns could end up being a difference-maker in winning games for the Colts throughout the season.

For more Colts coverage, check out Cody Manning’s work on Sporting News.

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Indianapolis, IN

Indianapolis already looking toward 2028 U.S. Olympic Swim Trials – Inside INdiana Business

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Indianapolis already looking toward 2028 U.S. Olympic Swim Trials – Inside INdiana Business


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Indianapolis continues to gear up to host the 2024 U.S. Olympic Swim Trials at Lucas Oil Stadium—the first time the event has been held at an NFL stadium. But officials already have their eyes set on the trials for the 2028 Summer Olympics in Los Angeles.

“We want to be a part of the Olympic movement going into LA in ’28,” said Indiana Sports Corp President Patrick Talty. “We think that it would make all the sense in the world for us to be a part of that movement.”

Speaking on Inside INdiana Business with Gerry Dick, Talty said the process to secure the 2028 trials begins now, just like the effort for this year’s event, which began four years ago.

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“This bid was actually done during the pandemic. So in June and July of 2020, we were in our offices, masked up, six feet apart actually putting this together,” said Talty. “We had to think, ‘How do we put the full package together? What are sporting events going to look like, and what can we do unique for the swimming trials?’ We felt like we could take it to the next level. We could set a new bar for what the Olympics will be trials could be in other cities.”

Indianapolis competed against three other finalist cities, including Omaha, Nebraska, which had hosted the trials since 2004, as well as Minneapolis and St. Louis. Talty said the pitch to host the event in Lucas Oil Stadium was intriguing.

“We were thinking, how do we put it in the biggest venue with the most accessibility for the fans to be able to to attend and get to experience it? Because in Omaha, unfortunately, the seating kind of limited how many people could come, and they were selling out very quickly. So, we thought NFL stadium is the best place for that.”

Talty credits downtown Indy’s walkability and the state’s “Hoosier hospitality” as two key reasons why the city continues to land big events like the swim trials. But he said the collaboration in the city is another crucial part of it.

“Our ability to come together to create, to accomplish great things is like no other city. I’ve lived in other cities. I’ve hosted events in other cities, and our ability to come together no matter what walk of life, no matter where we’ve come from, no matter what side of the aisle we’re on, we come together and we accomplish those great things in Indy.”

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While this year’s swim trials begin on Saturday, running through June 23, Talty said he’s looking toward making a bid for the 2028 event.

“We should absolutely do it,” he said. “Now, I think the one thing I would say is we need people to come out. We need people to experience this. And we need people to show swimming that central Indiana cares about the Olympic movement, and filling this venue would go a long way with that.”

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Indianapolis, IN

Southern Baptists reject proposed ban on women pastors

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Southern Baptists reject proposed ban on women pastors


INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — A measure to ban women from holding the title of pastor in Southern Baptist churches failed Wednesday despite widespread support.

The vote at the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC) annual meeting, held at the Indiana Convention Center, ends for now a three-year fight that has caused some churches to leave the organization. The measure would have amended the SBC Constitution to state that only men could hold the title of pastor.

The move would have further codified existing church doctrine. The Baptist Faith and Message 2000, which outlines the SBC’s basic theological doctrines, states, “While both men and women are gifted for service in the church, the office of pastor/elder/overseer is limited to men as qualified by Scripture.”

SBC insiders say adoption of the amendment would not have automatically forced churches with women pastors to leave the SBC, nor would it have signified any doctrinal change.

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Meeting delegates, known as messengers in SBC parlance, pointed to the ongoing debate over LGBTQ+ clergy in other denominations as evidence of the need to add the language to the SBC Constitution. Ryan Fullerton, pastor of Immanuel Baptist Church in Louisville, Kentucky, said the measure would not prevent women from serving in other capacities such as children’s ministry.

“The culture is attacking gender on all fronts,” he said. “What better way to express our countercultural commitment to the goodness of God’s Word than to affirm God’s creation order related to the office of pastor?”

Spence Shelton, pastor of Mercy Church in Charlotte, North Carolina, was the only person to speak against the measure before debate was cut off. He said the measure was redundant due to the language already in the Baptist Faith and Message. Shelton noted the SBC had just revoked the membership of First Alexandria Baptist Church in Alexandria, Virginia, on Tuesday over the women pastors issue and kicked out two more last year.

“The question is, is the amendment necessary for our Convention to respond when churches in our Convention act in a way contrary to our doctrine?” he said. “We showed last year we have an effective mechanism.”

The amendment passed a preliminary vote at last year’s SBC annual meeting. It needed a final, two-thirds vote in order to be ratified. On Wednesday, 61% of the meeting messengers voted in favor of it, falling short of the threshold.

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Some churches already have left the SBC over the amendment and what it represents. May Memorial Baptist Church in Powhatan, Va. quit a year ago rather than remove a woman from the position of associate pastor. Michael Edwards, the senior pastor, told News 8 that Scripture isn’t nearly as clear on the question of female pastors as SBC leaders are making it out to be. He said even though the amendment failed, he does not plan to rejoin the SBC.

“Who wants to be at the table with people who don’t want you there? I don’t,” he said.

Southern Baptist churches are independent. A church can be removed from what is termed “friendly cooperation” with the Southern Baptist Convention by a vote of messengers at the SBC annual meeting. This has little direct effect on a church, but it does prevent the church from accessing SBC programs such as education assistance at Southern Baptist seminaries.

Edwards said he expects someone will bring the measure back at a subsequent annual meeting. SBC staff said the amendment process would have to start over if someone wanted to do so. The earliest anyone could propose one would be at the 2025 annual meeting in Dallas and the earliest SBC messengers could hold a final vote would be at the 2027 annual meeting.

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New traffic signal set to activate as part of the expansion of Indianapolis Cultural Trail

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New traffic signal set to activate as part of the expansion of Indianapolis Cultural Trail


INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — The Indianapolis Department of Public Works will activate a new traffic signal, improving pedestrian safety as part of the Indiana Avenue and 10th Street expansion of the Indianapolis Cultural Trail.

According to a release, the Indianapolis Cultural Trail announced DPW will add a new addition of a new traffic signal at the intersection of Paca Steet, Indiana Avenue, and West St. Clair Street by the end of the week.

The new traffic signal will enhance pedestrian safety and increase connectivity in the Ranson Place neighborhood and for everyone who travels through the area. It will also impact traffic flow, so travelers will need to plan their commutes accordingly.

“Indianapolis Cultural Trail, Inc. is proud to continue creating safe experiences for all those who enjoy the Cultural Trail,” said Kären Haley, Indianapolis Cultural Trail executive director in a release. “The signal improves safety and better connects the expanded Trail to the Ransom Place neighborhood and nearby destinations. It is an example of how the entire City benefits from infrastructure improvements like the Cultural Trail that enhance the pedestrian experience in Indianapolis.”

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Per the release, the opening marks the first expansion of the internationally recognized linear park. The expansion will better connect the Indiana Avenue cultural district, connecting the front door of the Madam Walker Legacy Center, while creating a new connection to the Fall Creek Trail and White River Wapahani Trail.

“The expansion of the Cultural Trail includes 170,000 decorative pavers, 23 stormwater planters, 13 benches, nine bike racks, cultural interpretive panels, 8,950 perennials and shrubs, 78 trees, and a new traffic signal at the Paca Street, St Clair Street and Indiana Avenue intersection.”

The Indianapolis Cultural Trail: A Legacy of Gene and Marilyn Glick will open on Thursday, June 20, with a ribbon cutting and community celebration events.

$28.5 million was raised for the estimated $30 million project.

Click here to learn more.

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