The Colts have closed up training camp at Anderson and are halfway through their pre-season schedule, having dropped both games in ugly fashion. They play the defending Super Bowl champion Green Bay Packers on Friday night at 8 PM, and the game will be televised nationally on CBS. This is the game, the third of the pre-season, that teams generally treat like a real contest, prepping in mid-season form and going for the win. With a bushel of questions remaining for the Colts to answer, this game will be unlike almost any exhibition that we have seen during the Peyton Manning era. Here are some developments to watch as the Cheeseheads approach Indy.
If Curtis Painter and Dan Orlovsky are still the only quarterbacks on the roster (with apologies to Mike Hartline) by the time the Packers roll into town, then you can bet the Colts are still planning on Manning to be ready for the Houston opener on September 11. If not, then we may get to see Brett Favre suit up against his former team and understudy Aaron Rodgers. I’m kidding. Maybe.
There is a glut of bodies vying to carry the ball right now, and the competition is strong. Joseph Addai is obviously the featured back, but Delone Carter looks like a brute and potential star. Local product Darren Evans has also made a strong case for playing time, which Javarris James and Donald Brown have been so-so. Watch the running game closely on Friday.
As many observers commented after the Redskins game, the defensive line is in mid-season form, surrendering more than 200 yards on the ground to Washington. Obviously, the line is still a problem, and with DT Drake Nevis’ strong play, there seems to be a place in the starting lineup for the rookie. Can the Colts regroup and stifle the Packers RBs?
The offensive line, too, is a work in progress. The Colts struggled again on third-and-short against the `Skins, but at least here there may be a more clear path to healing. Rookie Anthony Castonzo has been installed at LT, and Ben Ijalana is waiting in line at RT. The guards have been shuffled, too, as Indy tries to get the right mix, and that should continue against Green Bay.
We won’t see Manning on the field this week, but we should have a better feeling for the true expectation level for this Colts team a week from now. Hopefully, the Blue and White will look a little rosier by then.