The Indianapolis Colts are set to take on the Cleveland Browns in their third pre-season game, which is annually the game that starters play the most in. Quarterback Andrew Luck says the team has been getting ready as if this were a game that counted toward the standings.
“We’ve been game planning almost to the point if it was a regular season game,” Luck said on Thursday.
Whereas in previous Colts pre-season games the starters’ aim was simply to put together one, maybe two scoring drives, there will now be some rhythm and flow to the game. The starters know they aren’t immediately coming out, so they have a mark to shoot for at least.
That’s why every year, analysts and experts put the most stock into the third pre-season game, because it gives the best look at what teams can do.
The team the Colts are playing has been no slouch this pre-season. It may be just that, but Browns fans have reason to be excited. The team put together a very nice coaching staff this offseason including offensive coordinator Norv Turner, who wasn’t the most beloved head coach in Chargers history but certainly knows a thing or two about quarterbacks.
He is trying to coach up Brandon Weeden, who got the better of Andrew Luck in their college days in their final matchup as college players, the Fiesta Bowl.
Weeden had a pretty bad rookie season, but has been one of the best players in the NFL (did I just say that?) this pre-season, and has expectations soaring for Cleveland, at least compared to what they have been.
This will be a tough test for the Colts. Not only are they going against a hot QB, they are also going against Trent Richardson, one of the league’s top up-and-coming attractions at the running back position.
The Browns also spent some big money this offseason on defender Paul Kruger, formerly of the Baltimore Ravens. Kruger was a target of the Indianapolis Colts this offseason in free agency as well. As much as the Colts upgraded this offseason via free agency, the Browns were similarly active, though not quite as big of spenders.
Veteran wide receiver Reggie Wayne knows his spot on the team is secure, but also knows how important this game and the final pre-season game are for the young receivers on the Colts’ roster.
“I want them to go out there and put their best audition tape out there,” Wayne said.
“We all know what the truth is. You are only going out there and playing for the Colts, you are playing for 32 teams. You want to be able to put your best performance out there. If you don’t, you get voted off. It’s just like ‘The Voice’, ‘American Idol’.”
This is true for every position on the Colts’ roster, so someone is going to need to step up and make some big plays. The final dress rehearsal for the starters before the regular season is a great time to do just that.