This Saturday at 7pm the Indianapolis Colts will host the New York Giants at Lucas Oil Stadium for their second preseason game. There are quite a few intriguing match-ups worth noting; even if we see the starters only for a quarter or so.
I believe one of the most important aspects to look for will be how Pep Hamilton runs the offense with the starters. Last week against the Jets, Andrew Luck ran the no-huddle offense to perfection. Luck completed a third-and-long right off the bat as the Colts marched right down the field en route to an opening-drive FG. Speaking as a fan, I prefer the no-huddle and would love to see more of it, but Pep has already stated that they will be trying other offenses which leads me to believe we will see a slower tempo. If the Colts prove they can be just as effective at a slower tempo then that could spell bad news for the rest of the league as they will be virtually impossible to defend. But, it all depends on what Pep decides to run, how often he runs it, and most importantly, how well it is executed.
Saturday’s game will feature two former No. 1 draft picks battling it out in Luck and Eli Manning. This will surely be a more daunting challenge for our defense compared to what they saw against Geno Smith last week in New York. It will be interesting to see what these two QBs can do with extended playing time as well, although no decision has been made (as of now) regarding how long the first unit will go. I assume Luck, Manning, and majority of the starters will play most of the first quarter – if not all of it. But with injuries piling up, how much time do they really need?
Center Khaled Holmes badly sprained his ankle on the first drive last week which dampened the mood of the team. After Holmes exited the game, the already non-impressive offensive line seemed lackluster at best. Jonotthan Harrison, an undrafted free agent from Florida, will fill the void left by Holmes so we will soon find out if he’s NFL-ready as he goes up against the intimidating defensive line of the Giants.
A captivating battle to follow will be between the running backs. Both Rashad Jennings and Andre Williams looked impressive last week and should see more playing time Saturday. Trent Richardson gave us all a glimpse of what we expected from him last year. We can only hope that he will build off that momentum – even with the added wrinkle of a new starting center. We are also likely to see Ahmad Bradshaw play against his former team for the first time. Bradshaw expressed ambition to test his neck and see how playing at real-game-speed will pan out for him. Bradshaw said he plans on going this game or the next just to get the feel. If Bradshaw does strap on a helmet it obviously will not be for very long.
Hakeem Nicks, another former Giant, will be playing alongside T.Y Hilton at wide receiver and both should see extended playing time as well. The focus will be on T.Y. after he made a statement this week that the Colts actually have three #1 receivers; himself included. T.Y. is obviously a great player so if he considers himself a No. 1 receiver than he needs to back it up on the field. Nothing is set in stone, but the Colts seem optimistic that Reggie Wayne will see his first on-field action since the torn ACL against Denver. It would be quite uplifting and inspiring to see #87 back on the field again.
The Colts’ secondary will be tested to a higher standard by Eli Manning compared to last week against the Jets’ QBs Geno Smith and Michael Vick. LaRon Landry and Vontae Davis most likely will be making their season debuts after their “injuries” so we will get a glimpse of what to expect from the secondary this season.
Colts fans also need to keep an eye on the return game. The starting kick returner spot remains up for grabs but Ryan Lankford, Donte Moncrief, and David Simms appear to be the front-runners for the job. Hopefully these guys can show promise and challenge each other to improve this facet of the game since last year’s performance was a true disappointment.
With this being a preseason game, it does not matter who wins or loses, but it will be vital to see how these players gel as a team. A majority of players already have their roster spot secured, but for the guys battling for the final positions, hopefully they will both entertain us fans as well as play some great football and prepare this team for the upcoming season.