The Indianapolis Colts unveil the No. 1 pick of the 2012 NFL draft, Andrew Luck, against the St. Louis Rams on Sunday afternoon, as each team will be kicking off their preseason slate of games for the 2012 season.
When it comes to preseason action, the teams that were the most active in the offseason are always the most interesting to watch, as the exhibition games give us our first chance to see how the new players in town will fare wearing their new colors.
With both the Colts and Rams coming off of disappointing seasons, there will be plenty of new faces making their team debuts, and changes to look out for as they begin another season.
Here's a look at where and when to catch the Luck debut and more, when these two teams square off on Sunday.
Where: Lucas Oil Stadium, Indianapolis, Indiana
When: Sunday, August 12, 1:30 p.m. ET
Watch: NFL Network
Listen: ESPN 1070 AM in Indianapolis; WXOS 101.1 FM in St. Louis
Stream: Preseason Live
What's At Stake?
The first preseason game often serves as a one-drive tuneup for each team's starters and an extended tryout for those at the bottom of the depth chart, so there won't be too much at stake for either of these teams on Sunday afternoon.
However, staying healthy and looking sharp in the early going are always good objectives to achieve, and with both teams featuring plenty of young players looking to make an impression, a quick start would be nice to see for either team. The preseason is where we get a good idea of how far along young players are in their development, and both teams would like to see a marked improvement in talent from last season.
WR Donnie Avery (Thigh), Out for Sunday's Game
DL Josh Chapman (Knee), Out for Sunday's Game
LB A.J. Edds (Knee), Out for Season
Key Injuries: St. Louis Rams (via CBSsports.com)
No Key Injuries
Fantasy Prospect to Watch: Brian Quick, WR, St. Louis Rams
When it comes to rookies who could make an impact in fantasy football this season, Brian Quick has largely flown under the radar. However, he has massive sleeper potential in St. Louis—especially in deeper leagues.
The Rams receiving corps features underwhelming talents such as Brandon Gibson and Danny Amendola, so it will be interesting to see if the 6'3", 200-pound Quick can establish himself as a threat to start once the season begins. If he can crack the lineup, the Appalachian State product should have some value, as Bradford has to throw the ball to somebody.
What They're Saying:
According to Colts offensive coordinator Bruce Arians, we should only see a small dose of Andrew Luck, as Arians expects the new franchise quarterback to take 20-to-25 snaps in the opener (h/t The Washington Times).
According to the St. Louis Rams' official blog, fans can expect to see varying degrees of playing time for their starters in the team's first preseason action. Head coach Jeff Fisher said that starters whose jobs are secure will likely see few snaps, while those fighting for their jobs will likely see significantly more snaps.
Indianapolis' Key Addition
The most obvious choice would be Andrew Luck.
The No. 1 pick of the 2012 draft is definitely the quarterback of the future and will be linked to the Colts franchise throughout his career. Filling the shoes of beloved quarterback Peyton Manning won't be easy, but Luck has all of the tools to build a successful NFL career.
It's important to remember that Manning wasn't spectacular in his rookie season, but the expectation will be that Luck excels immediately nonetheless. With a revamped offense and a rebuilding offensive line, success will take time—but this first game will give us an idea of Luck's comfort level with the offense.
St. Louis' Key Addition
The Rams added plenty of players in the offseason and navigated the draft intelligently, stockpiling picks by trading down with the Redskins in the RGIII trade. However, their key addition this offseason has to be head coach Jeff Fisher.
Fisher is one of the winningest coaches of all time and brings a savvy leadership that should have Rams fans buzzing about the future. It won't be a quick fix, as this team still has plenty of holes, but they are on the right track to building a team that should be competitive for years to come.
Key Matchup to Watch: Sam Bradford vs. Colts Secondary
Andrew Luck's debut may be the story to this game, but Rams fans want to know what they can expect out of Sam Bradford this season.
After a successful rookie season that saw Bradford throw for over 3,500 yards and 18 touchdowns, Bradford struggled with injuries and inconsistency in his sophomore NFL season, leaving fans wondering what they have in Bradford.
Who will look better in this preseason opener?
With a full offseason to recover and study the offense, Bradford comes into 2012 ready to take the next step in becoming the franchise quarterback. The Colts secondary should provide a good challenge in the opening portion of the game. Indianapolis was ranked 15th against the pass last season, and the secondary was the lone unit that played well in the 2-14 season.
Prediction: Rams Win
Picking preseason games is no easy task, given that the game is often determined by which team has the better third string, but the Rams look to be the favorite in this one.
There are position battles across the field, and it sounds like the Rams may be willing to leave starting-caliber players out a little bit longer than the Colts, and that could be the determining factor. The final score to this game really doesn't matter as much as the development of both team's young talents and signal-callers.