Storylines For The Colts Final Preseason Game
There’s one more preseason game to go. The Indianapolis Colts will travel to Cincinnati to take on the Bengals 7:00 p.m. Thursday for the final contest before the roster must be cut down to 53 players.
This game will be all about finding the bottom-of-the-roster guys. The starters will probably play only one series, if at all, before giving way to all the fringe players trying to make an NFL roster. Here are some Colts position battles to watch for Thursday night.
-Probably the biggest question mark heading into the contest is the battle for the last wide receiver spot. At the top of the depth chart, there is of course Reggie Wayne, Darrius Heyward-Bey and T.Y. Hilton. After that lies mass confusion. Griff Whalen on talent alone would be a virtual lock, but he’s shown signs of being injury prone. LaVon Brazill was thought to be the number four guy during the offseason, but his four-game suspension for marijuana use puts his future on this team in jeopardy. If he does make the team, the Colts will have to add another receiver for those first four weeks. Nathan Palmer looked to have the most promise out of everyone else, but he was just waived-injured. Maurice Williams was signed, and David Reed was brought in by trade, but Williams has already been cut, and Reed, known as a return specialist, only got one kick return last week and no action in the passing game. The remaining candidates, Jeremy Kelley, Jabin Sambrano and Lanear Sampson, have four catches combined in the preseason thus far. Hopefully someone will step up to earn a roster spot rather than being given one by default.
-It sounds like Mike McGlynn’s bruised knee will keep him out of action again, so rookie Hugh Thornton will likely start in his place at right guard. Thornton played very well for a rookie in his first NFL action last Saturday. If Thornton keeps his excellent performance up, McGlynn’s starting job may be in jeopardy.
-Center Khaled Holmes, the other offensive lineman taken by the Colts in the 2013 NFL Draft, might get his first action of the preseason Thursday. With starting center Samson Satele not playing very well last year or the beginning of this preseason, Holmes could begin his own push for an eventual starting job. Or, if he disappoints Thursday, he could force the Colts to put him on the practice squad and not the final 53-man list. The Colts already have three backup linemen in Joe Reitz, Jeff Linkenbach and Thornton. Holmes will have to fight against Thomas Austin, who has played center for the reserve unit so far, to win the last offensive lineman spot.
-The final spot on the defensive line will be an interesting battle to monitor. The five locks are Ricky Jean-Francois, Cory Redding, Aubrayo Franklin, Josh Chapman and Drake Nevis. I would guess the Colts will only keep six defensive linemen, leaving Fili Moala and Montori Hughes to fight for one spot. Neither has seen a lot of playing time in the preseason – Hughes has battled a stinger injury, and Moala has yet to play because of a knee injury that put him on Injured Reserve last year. Both will probably play Thursday, with the better performer more likely to nail down that last spot. I wouldn’t be surprised if the Colts kept them both for seven total linemen, but if they do only keep six, I would think Hughes has the advantage right now because he’s younger and doesn’t have an injury history like Moala’s.