The Colts are coming off a tough and overpowering loss to the Buffalo Bills. The starters performed well, but the backups need to improve in Sunday's game against the Giants. The backups did have a good thing from that though, we learned more about the players that we signed over the off season such as Caesar Rayford, Allen Chapman, Daxton Swanson, and a returning Colt from last November, Delano Howell. Howell had 10+ tackles last week and Rayford has a strip sack that Swanson picked up for a 72-yard touchdown. The runningbacks looked good but did not get a lot of carries so they did not rack up a lot of yards. Someone who needs to improve this week is Chandler Harnish. Harnish needs to play well Sunday if he wants to stay on the roster and not end up on the practice squad. I think his week they should have Hasselbeck play at least until halftime because they had Harnish in command too long.
Roster Bubble Players
- Chandler Harnish QB - did not play well completing only 14 of 33 passes with a pick six. He is in danger of being kept on the practice squad. Harnish will probably have the whole second half to improve on his mistakes.
- Marshay Green CB - Green was getting destroyed by Bills receivers and could not stop any passes his way. He is not what the Colts need for depth at cornerback.
- Delone Carter HB - Carter did not play well against the Bills only getting 11 yards on three carries. He is not needed with Ballard, Bradshaw, and Brown on the roster.
Players to Watch
- Björn Werner OLB (If he plays) - Werner did not play in the preseason opener so I'm not sure if he will play Sunday. I heard he was active against the Bills but did not play. If he does play it will be the first game of his NFL career against someone besides the Colts. This game should show us how well he has developed into a 3-4 OLB from a 4-3 DE.
- Griff Whalen WR - Griff Whalen will be the player to watch pretty much every preseason game because he is looking to emerge as the 4th wide receiver in the absence of LaVon Brazil. He had three catches the last game but is looking to put up bigger numbers this week.
- Caesar Rayford OLB - Rayford had a nice strip sack last week that led to a touchdown. He has incredible size for an OLB at 6'7'', 245 pounds. He can continue his case to make this team this week against the Giants. He can really add depth as a pass rushing outside linebacker and I really hope he makes the team. The worst he could go is practice squad.
Keys to the Game
- Strong Performance from Starters - This is the most important thing to a preseason game besides finding players to fill in the rest of the roster. If Andrew Luck shows some strong scoring drives and the defense does not allow a lot of yards or points, it will be a successful game for me, even if they lose because usually it's the third string that loses games, not the starters. Ahmad Bradshaw will most likely not play in the game against his former team but is probably 99% ready for the regular season. If this was the regular season, he would play. Like Dwayne Allen and Pat Angerer, I don't think they really get any snaps this preseason due to precaution.
- Better Special Teams Play - As far as kicking and punting go, the Colts did good against the Bills. However, when it came to returning and coverage, it was bad. Punt returning was not all that bad but the kick returning needs to improve. Williams had five returns for 89 yards. That's 17.8 yards per return. If you want to be the team's starting kick returning, you need to at least average over 20 yards per return or at least get past the 20-yard line. In some instances last week they didn't even get past the 10-yard line. They also allowed two returns of over 50 yards, one being a 107-yard kickoff return touchdown by Marquise Goodwin. You aren't going to make winning games easy letting up easy scores like that.
- Better Pass Protection - The Colts have great starters on pass protection: Landry, Bethea, Toler, and Davis. But if Greg Toler gets another injury, there is going to be trouble on that side of the field. Butler is a decent option at CB, he led the team in interceptions last year but look at the cornerbacks listed after him: Cassius Vaughn, Josh Gordy, Teddy Williams, Marshay Green, and Allen Chapman. Chapman will have an opportunity to make the roster or practice squad and Vaughn will probably make the roster because of his speed. The Colts should show better pass protection this week due to the backup quarterbacks of the Giants, Curtis Painter and David Carr (both busts). The rookie Ryan Nassib even had trouble in his first preseason game. Pass protection has been an issue of ours for awhile but this year we have the starters to help with that as long as they stay healthy.
The Colts' starters will outplay the Giants' starters but it is a close match between backups. If Hasselbeck and Luck can secure a good lead, we will probably win but if we are losing by the time Harnish comes in we will probably lose because Harnish isn't ready to lead a comeback yet. He still has a lot to learn but he has some good quarterbacks to learn from. I say the Giants win 24-21 but if Luck and Hasselbeck get a good lead it will be Colts win 31-28.