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Lots of Pass But Little Pop From Colts

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Andrew Luck and his main trio of receivers were impressive, while the running game lagged against the Giants. Photo by Jeff Zelevansky/Getty Images.
Andrew Luck and his main trio of receivers were impressive, while the running game lagged against the Giants. Photo by Jeff Zelevansky/Getty Images.

The Indianapolis Colts made up for their “crap performance,” as owner Jim Irsay put it, last week by defeating the New York Giants in preseason game No. 2 Sunday by the score of 20-12. The starting offense put up 17 points through a quarter and a half before coming out, while the first team defense made several fourth down and red zone stops.

Here are some takeaways from the action.

-First things first, I think it’s time for OC Pep Hamilton to stop telling everyone this is a balanced offense committed to the running game. The first two drives were evidence enough of the true colors of this team. The offense ran the ball twice and passed it once on the first possession for a total of -3 yards, while the second drive called for no designed runs and resulted in 81 yards and a touchdown in only 3:52. If you take away quarterback scrambles, the Colts rushed 27 times for a 2.2 yards-per-rush average. You can talk all you want Hamilton, but everyone knows the Colts are much better off relying heavily on the passing game.

-After last week’s preseason game, I labeled Coby Fleener a “winner” for his high volume of involvement in the offense. This week, Fleener was quite disappointing. He dropped one pass early, then he wasn’t even looking for the ball when Andrew Luck tried to find him again. If Fleener is going to be more involved in the offense, he needs to work on his concentration to not make so many mistakes. He had just been cleared to play after suffering a concussion, so hopefully he wasn’t suffering any lingering effects from that.

-Bjoern Werner looked good in his NFL debut. The first round pick didn’t record any sacks, and you could tell he was a rookie sometimes, but he did get close several times and applied good pressure. He looks like he’ll be a project, but you can tell the potential is there.

-Speaking of pass-rushing, the first team defense again struggled to get pressure on the passer. Erik Walden sacked Eli Manning once, but if he plays anything close to the way he did in Green Bay, don’t count on that happening very often. On the bright side, the reserves applied plenty pressure. Caesar Rayford, Monte Simmons and Drake Nevis all made plenty of plays in the backfield and combined for four sacks. Marshay Green also made a sack on a blitz in which he was untouched.

-Kelvin Sheppard was a little hard to get a hold on. He seemed to constantly be around the ball when he was in the game, but he struggled to make tackles and finish plays. He’ll almost certainly make the final roster, but he’ll need to start wrapping up if he wants to start.

-The top three receivers shone brightly. Darrius Heyward-Bey, Reggie Wayne and T.Y. Hilton combined for nine catches, 115 yards and two incredibly acrobatic touchdown grabs. And remember, all that came in only a quarter and half against a respectable Giants defense. Heyward-Bey was the most surprising. Despite many reports describing how inconsistent he is in camp, Heyward-Bey was solid throughout. Even more surprising, most of his production came on short passes and yards after the catch. Now he needs to consistently produce like that.

-On the flip side, all other receivers not part of that trio combined for two catches and 17 yards. The Colts better hope Wayne, Hilton and Heyward-Bey stay healthy, because the depth doesn’t look promising.