Things we hope to see in the Colts first preseason game against the Bills

WESTFIELD, INDIANA - AUGUST 12: Head coach Frank Reich of the Indianapolis Colts walks on the field during the Carolina Panthers and Indianapolis Colts joint practice at Grand Park on August 12, 2021 in Westfield, Indiana. (Photo by Justin Casterline/Getty Images)
WESTFIELD, INDIANA - AUGUST 12: Head coach Frank Reich of the Indianapolis Colts walks on the field during the Carolina Panthers and Indianapolis Colts joint practice at Grand Park on August 12, 2021 in Westfield, Indiana. (Photo by Justin Casterline/Getty Images) /

The Indianapolis Colts will face off against the Buffalo Bills in Saturday’s preseason game. Here’s what Indy needs to show in the matchup.

For some teams, the preseason isn’t all that important and their starters don’t even see the field, the Indianapolis Colts aren’t one of those teams. With all the new additions this offseason, Frank Reich has already said that Indy’s starters will be seeing more action than usual.

Reich said that in the first preseason game on Saturday, against the Buffalo Bills, new quarterback Matt Ryan will likely be playing the entire first quarter. Although Ryan is entering his 15th season, this is his first with the Colts and they need to get the offense up to speed before the regular season.

Indy’s defense also has some adjustments to make as well. Although they’ve been lights out in camp, Indianapolis needs to get some work installing Gus Bradley’s system in a live game against another team.

With so many expectations for the Colts entering this season, they need to start the year right and show some things in the preseason. While the outcome of the game isn’t necessarily important, there are some things that Indy needs to accomplish to keep fans optimistic entering the year. Let’s take a look at 3 things fans hope to see in the preseason game against the Bills.

Colts, Quenton Nelson
Indianapolis Colts offensive guard Quenton Nelson (56) is checked on after an injury. Mandatory Credit: Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports /

1. Colts need to stay healthy

While the preseason is important for getting teams up to speed before the regular season starts, the reason many coaches are so skeptical about playing their starters is that they don’t want to risk injuring guys in a meaningless football game. That’s why it’s important that Indy does its best to stay healthy on Saturday.

Reich is right to want to play Ryan and the starters for a quarter so that they can work on timing and implement things at a real game speed, but it’s also very risky. The Colts have been very honest that Ryan is a big part of the team’s plans this year. If he goes down with an injury, Indy will be in trouble.

That doesn’t just go for Ryan either. All of the key players like Jonathan Taylor, Quenton Nelson, and even starters without star power, need to make it to Week 1 in the best health possible.

Last season, the Colts started the year 1-4, and a big reason why was that they stumbled out of training camp and the preseason hurt. That slow start forced Indy to dig itself out of a hole all year. While getting up to speed is important, health is the most important.

Colts, Matt Ryan
The Indianapolis Colts QB, Matt Ryan, (2,) throws a pass at Colts Camp at Grand Park Sports Campus in Westfield Ind. /

2. The passing game needs to look promising

Indy’s passing game has been the most scrutinized part of the team since Andrew Luck retired. Indianapolis has had a different starting quarterback every season since then and the team has failed to put together a competent receiver room.

After an offseason with many chances to add to the receiver room, the Colts decided to just draft Alec Pierce and gamble on their young unproven corp. So far, it’s a gamble that has been yielding mixed results throughout training camp.

While no one has been questioning Matt Ryan and his throwing ability, it’s the receivers that have been inconsistent. The group started hot in the first few days of training camp, making several highlight reel catches but things have since slowed down.

Once Indy put on full pads, the inexperience began to show for the receiving group. While there were still some occasional impressive plays, there were also a lot of drops and just an overall theme of inconsistency.

Unfortunately, that’s not going to cut it. The Colts need to come out on Saturday and show that those struggles were just a training camp wall and that this offense does actually have the necessary weapons to make a serious playoff run.

Indianapolis Colts wide receiver Michael Young Jr. (84) practices receiving during training camp at Grand Park Sports Campus in Westfield, Ind. /

3. Depth players need to perform well

While the opening series of preseason games are about getting the starters live reps, the majority of the game is about backup players showcasing their abilities and fighting for their spots on the roster and depth chart.

On Saturday, the Colts will likely play a lot of guys that don’t have secure roles on the team yet. It will be really beneficial for the team if these players put forth productive performances in the preseason. The reason being is that all good teams need depth.

While everyone wants their starters to be available and on the field for all 17 games, the brutal reality of football is that injuries happen and teams need players that are prepared to step up. That starts with players proving their readiness in the preseason.

If Parris Campbell, unfortunately, goes down with another injury, do the Colts have a young receiver that can step in or produce? What about rookie players that are one snap away from being full-time starters like Bernhard Raimann, Rodney Thomas II, and JoJo Domann, are they ready to produce in the NFL?

Saturday will be their first major test. It’ll be a lot of guys’ first NFL action or first time taking the field in a Colts uniform and they have to show that they belong. Indianapolis has championship aspirations and we need to see if those aspirations will be intact if the team suffers an unfortunate injury.