The Indianapolis Colts opened up the 2014 NFL preseason in a great way against the New York Jets. The offense looked great, as Pep Hamilton chose to go no huddle and it worked well. They converted a couple of third downs in the process and had good balance overall. The defense also played well, and the run defense in particular looked great not allowing any big plays within the first two series of the game. Colts fans should look for this to continue when they play their second preseason game against the New York Giants on Saturday.
On the offensive side of the ball it is going to be interesting to see how the Colts are going to attack out of the gate. Hamilton already stated that he might not use the no huddle every week, so he could change his approach next week. If the Colts are able to execute at a slower tempo at a high level it is going to show the rest of the NFL that they can execute everything at a high level. That should make them very dangerous moving forward.
From a player perspective on the offensive side of the ball, people should keep their eyes on Jonathan Harrison who is expected to be starting at center. Harrison is a undrafted free agent out of Florida and did struggle when called upon last week. I am willing to give him the benefit of the doubt because of the circumstances. But this week I am expecting him to improve to a capable level or else the Colts are in trouble.
On the defensive side of the ball, people should watch and see if the Colts can continue to get pressure without Robert Mathis. Bjoern Werner had a great game last week, so hopefully he is building on something big. Josh Chapman also played very well last week, and if he continues to play like he did then he should be the starting nose tackle for the Colts.
Another player to watch for is Vontae Davis who could be making his preseason debut for the Colts. Davis has been banged up all throughout training camp, and the pressure is on him to perform to his contract. Defensive coordinator Greg Manusky has even said that he has to get more picks if he is going to become an elite cornerback.
As far as the second team offense and defense goes, look for standouts to continue to play at a high level. On the offensive side of the ball, the battle between Donte Moncrief and Da’Rick Rogers for the fourth wide receiver spot looks good. On the defensive side of the ball, I expect Henoc Muamba to continue his stellar play and prove that CFL players can play at a high level in the NFL.
On special teams the battle for the starting kick returner is still going on. It has become a battle between Ryan Lankford and Moncrief. Kick returns were a big problem for the Colts last year, so this battle is important.
Finally this could be the return of Reggie Wayne to the lineup. Wayne sat out last week’s game against the Jets but could return this week. It will be interesting to see how fast he plays and how he looks in his first game back from injury.
I have stated before that the score does not matter in preseason games. It is more about how individual players plays within the game. Look for players to continue to impress and build on last week, because that could tell you the bigger picture down the road.