Preseason games in the NFL aren’t about winning, but more about giving young players a chance to prove their worth against equally talented competition, while keeping your starters healthy and still giving them a chance to get a feeling heading into the new season. The Indianapolis Colts might have lost their first game, but at least nothing happened to Andrew Luck.
Luck got to play only two offensive series, going 4-of-6 for 51 yards. The problem was that the Colts’ offensive line struggled protecting him, as Mario Williams was allowed to sack him for a 10-yard loss, which pretty much signaled it was time to start sending out Matt Hasselbeck (playing three series) and then Chandler Harnish for the rest of the afternoon.
The Colts went into the game without 16 players, including first round pick Bjoern Werner (knee), starters Allen, safety LaRon Landry and linebacker Jerrell Freeman. A few more players left the game with injuries, continuing to pile up all around the league. Their defense certainly could have used some more help, as the Bills ran for 134 yards on 40 carries against them, with Spiller and Manuel doing most of the damage.
Not everything was bad for the Colts, as T.Y. Hilton provided some moments of entertainment, catching 3 passes for 61 yards and a touchdown. He made an impressive diving catch for a 45-yard touchdown off an Hasselbeck pass to close the first quarter before taking his leave after losing some skin on his arm from the catch.
It seems the Colts’ receiving crew will be slightly better than it was last season – there’s the never ending Reggie Wayne, with Hilton not far behind Darrius Heyward-Bey in terms of rotation and importance. Their tight end situation is also looking improved with Coby Fleener primed to do much better than he did during his rookie year (catching 2 passes for 37 yards in the loss to the Bills), but not perfect.
Fleener did miss a perfect opportunity for a touchdown, and with fellow tight end Dwayne Allen out for at least two weeks with a foot injury means there will be more pressure on Fleener to start looking a lot more consistent in completing plays, something he’s struggled with during the second half of last season.
The Colts want to bring back the running game to where it was a few years ago. This is Luck’s show, but they don’t want to be 100% dependent on their quarterback to come up with the plays, like the Packers, for example, are on Aaron Rodgers.
There wasn’t anyone giving a breakout performance as the Colts rushed for 72 yards on 16 carries. Kerwynn Williams led the team with 21 yards on 4 carries, and the only other player worth mentioning was Vick Ballard, running for 18 yards. Both teams failed to score a rushing touchdown during the game.
Last season the Colts needed preseason wins to build the confidence of a team around a new quarterback following a disastrous season. This year, expectations are high in Indianapolis once again, and keeping Andrew Luck healthy, even if it means barely having him on the field to get a feel of the new season.