For those of you who haven’t heard, Peyton Manning is not going to be playing. Curtis Painter will get the start for Indianapolis. Painter has been impressing in practice. He has good timing with the receivers and shows mastery over the offense. He has plenty of pieces to work with.
The main story line going into this game is of course, Manning. The second one has to be players returning from injuries. Dallas Clark, Austin Collie, Anthony Gonzalez and more will be back after missing significant time last season. For those of you who are wondering if the Colts can keep up with the other elites, remember the injuries that plagued them last year and how they still managed to win the division. The firepower they return should leave little doubt that they can repeat the success this year. If one of those players are to go down, guys such as Jacob Tamme and Blair White have improved from last year, where they already showed they could step in and keep the offense rolling.
I’m excited to see Painter and the first team offense. In the back of my head, I know Manning is clearly the guy, and also that the group may struggle in the beginning of the regular season when Manning returns due to the lack of his presence at training camp. Still, it could be comforting to know Painter would be capable of taking over should doomsday happen. Collie really started showing some flashes of real talent last year but hit a big stroke of misfortune with multiple concussions. Hopefully, that is behind the young receiver. Gonzalez still hasn’t had a chance to prove his ability, due to multiple injuries over the past couple of seasons. Fans must be wondering if he is worth all the trouble. I’m slightly curious myself. Without a doubt, Clark is elite and will be a big redzone target welcomed back.
The final piece people want to see in preseason is the new guys, the free agents picked up and the rookies. The surprising number of signings off the market makes this preseason a fair amount more interesting than past ones. The major signings include DL Jamaal Anderson, DT Tommie Harris, and LB Ernie Sims. Ernie Sims is recovering from a procedure and will not play tonight. Tommie Harris and Jamaal Anderson are expected to come in and show their worth along the defensive line. Everyone hopes these additions will help the Colts in areas they struggled with. This D is no Pittsburgh or Baltimore or the NY Jets, but everyone knows the offense has been pretty much up to par. The defense is where there has been room to grow.
The rest of the new players, the rookies, provide just as much excitement. Two new pieces are going to be plugged in along the offensive line. There have been conflicting reports out of camp on what the expectations are for Castonzo and Igalana. Originally, Castonzo was said to have been making leaps and bounds but was still horribly outmatched by Dwight Freeney. What does that say about Castonzo when he has to play against other elite pass rushers? Word is now he may be ready to play in September so what changed? People also mention Igalana taking over at tackle immediately on the right side but now you hear he may slip in at guard or not play right away. Either way, these two are pillars on the offensive line for the future. It isn’t crucial they both play right away and the Colts will not rush them if they do not believe they are ready to play. Running back Delone Carter is the newly appointed goal line and short yardage back for Indy. This is a piece the Colts desperately need and if Carter is the solution, no longer will opposing defenses be able to get away with only six players in the box. DT Drake Nevis is immediately knocked down the depth chart with the free agent signings but that doesn’t mean he won’t see the field. Keep an eye on in him in the game to see what he brings and where he will fit into the rotation. I’m unsure myself but I do know Jim Caldwell will find a place for him. Lastly, DB Chris Rucker hasn’t made big impressions during practice. The Colts sound like they have their first three corners lined up already so Rucker will be a special teams guy and be seen on third and long situations possibly.
All in all, what you want to see tonight is the offense moving the ball down the field consistently. Curtis Painter needs to make smart decisions and manage the game, not force the ball into tight windows. On defense, watch how the defensive line plays and hope for a couple big plays, whether that is a couple sacks or some turnovers. Finally, keep watching the game after halftime. See who stands out because many players are fighting for a roster sport. Running backs Darren Evans and Chad Spann are two people to keep an eye out for. Hope you enjoy the game. I’ll be tweeting during the game and have immediate reactions later tonight.
For more on the Colts, follow ChatColts on Twitter, ‘Like’ the ChatColts page on Facebook, or keep coming back to http://www.chatsports.com/indianapolis-colts
Follow my work on the ChatColts website or read my personal blog @ http://thesportsinsight.wordpress.com/. For questions, feel free to e-mail me (see my writer page for the address and more info. ) or comment on any of my pieces.