The Colts will finally get back on the field for semi-real tomorrow night when they visit the St. Louis Rams for their first pre-season game of 2011. Here are the Colts angles I’ll be watching closely.
This has become a real area of concern over the last few seasons, and that’s especially true with an ailing Peyton Manning still PUP. I’ll take the Colts at their depth-chart word and assume that Jeff Linkenbach will start at LT and that Ryan Diem will start at RT, but I expect to see a lot of rookies Anthony Castonzo and Ben Ijalana in tomorrow night’s game. I also wouldn’t mind seeing a little of undrafted free agent center Jake Kirkpatrick. The development of these three will be key to the Colts’ future success, particularly in the case of the two tackles.
Yeah, whoever backs up Manning *should* be your basic scrubini, but this is a more important position than in most years. Manning is injured, aging and rusty, so he may not take every snap this season. Curtis Painter has done little to instill any confidence, Dan Orlovksy has directional issues, Nate Davis couldn’t stick with the 49ers and rookie Mike Hartline has had some legal problems and went undrafted. The Colts may keep three QBs on the roster this year, and I wouldn’t be surprised if they need every one of them.
Joseph Addai is a given, but Donald Brown is not. In a way, Brown is to the Colts what Lance Stephenson is to the Pacers: the club keeps telling us how good he is, but he continues to deliver very little. I’m anxious to see what Delone Carter can do in some live action, and I think he at least has a chance to solve most of Indy’s short yardage problems, assuming the line is not more of just a point.
DE Jerry Hughes is looking to prove that his disappointing rookie season was an aberration and earn a rotation spot with Dwight Freeney and Robert Mathis. Free agent pick-up Jamaal Anderson also hopes to be in the mix at DE. At tackle, the Colt took a chance on Tommie Harris to see if he can help plug the run defense, and, if he can, the Colts could be more dangerous than ever this season.
The Colts have lost safety Bob Sanders and cornerback Kelvin Hayden since last season ended, and now they have to make the existing pieces work. That shouldn’t be such a big deal at safety, because Sanders has been a non-factor for three years. Whether Melvin Bullitt and Antoine Bethea play much against the Rams is yet to be seen, but they should be the starters going into the season. The situation at CB is a little dicier, where Jerraud Powers is the only sure thing right now. Jacob Lacey is listed at the top of the depth chart on the left side, but Justin Tryon will probably get a hard look, too. There should be a lot of action against the DBs on Saturday courtesy of Sam Bradford, so we could see quite a few different guys out there in various situations.
Regardless of what happens against the Rams, isn’t it great, finally, to be able to discuss an actual game? Enjoy the action!