Colts vs Packers: Preseason What to Watch For
The Indianapolis Colts technically host the Green Bay Packers in the 2016 season’s first preseason game. Both team’s are honoring team legends in the Hall of Fame Game in Canton, Ohio.
The Colts and Packers, who play each other for real later this season in Green Bay, have the distinction of honoring former members of their teams who were inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame this weekend. The Colts have paid tribute to former coach Tony Dungy and wide receiver Marvin Harrison while the Packers are there for quarterback Brett Favre. As such, the two teams will have to play in five preseason games this year.
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Because of this, there is a good chance that neither team plays too many of their starters tonight. The Colts are already down a few offensive linemen which could lead to Andrew Luck sitting out or merely getting fewer reps. It also sounds like Aaron Rodgers won’t play for the Packers either.
This kind of game is a great, early shot for bubble players to standout and the Colts and Packers will at least get an extra chance to evaluate players before they have to start trimming the roster.
Here’s what fans should watch for:
- How many series for Luck? We’ve seen conflicting reports on how much Luck will play. The line injuries suggest he’ll sit until they have better protection while coach Chuck Pagano implied they want to get Luck some more work. He’s got quite a bit of rust to knock off and has a new offensive coordinator to contend with as well. Luck only had one game with Rob Chudzinski calling the plays before he was out the rest of the season in 2015.
- Backup running back. Who will split carries with Frank Gore this season? Rookie Josh Ferguson has made a number of big plays in camp and seemingly everyone in the organization has gushed about him. Robert Turbin has the experience, but he really isn’t that great a player. The player who comes in to spell Gore likely has the inside track on the backup job.
- Wide receiver depth. Outside of T.Y. Hilton, Donte Moncrief, and Phillip Dorsett the Colts are awfully thin at wide receiver. That is the extent of their proven depth, and Dorsett is still very much a question mark. Reports out of camp on Quan Bray are encouraging, in that he’s more than just a (very good) return man but he’s in the mold of Dorsett or Hilton (read: smaller and fast). The Colts need someone with size to stand out during camp (if only Duron Carter had panned out). Don’t expect much work from the top three (or four) but plenty from the other receivers on the roster.
- Injuries creating opportunity. The offensive line has a number of minor injuries to starters (at least for now). Center Ryan Kelly is unfortunately out as is right guard Hugh Thornton and right tackle Joe Reitz. This will give players like Joe Haeg, Denzelle Good, Austin Blythe, and LeRaven Clark more reps this evening. The Colts are banking on some of these young linemen standing out, and evaluating their abilities is best done at full speed in game situations.
- New defensive approach. There has been some buzz about new defensive coordinator Ted Monachino and the efforts to simplify the defense. Pagano wants streamline the defense and improve communication, which is what he brought in Monachino to do. From the IndyStar:
- “What Ted is going to do is we’re going to accentuate our strengths,” Pagano said. “We’re going to put those guys in position to make plays, and we’re not going to over-coach them. Meaning we’re not going to bog them down with so much information and ask a lot from them from a communication standpoint where we paralyze those guys. We don’t want to do that.”
- Pass rush? The Colts are far from full strength right now, and we likely won’t see everyone on defense until the season opener (if not later depending on Art Jones, whose suspended, and Henry Anderson, still recovering). Robert Mathis says he’s feeling great, but it has been him or bust for the team’s pass rush the past few years. They desperately need someone to stand out in the preseason to spell Mathis (and give hope for the future).
Set expectations low for Sunday night’s game with both teams giving extremely limited snaps to the starters. Make sure to follow us on twitter for updates and analysis tonight and check back for our game breakdowns.