Indianapolis Colts: The Biggest Winners and Losers of Camp, Preseason so Far
Right now the Indianapolis Colts are divided into groups of winners and losers.
With so many new faces on the roster, there are a ton of players battling for a spot on the final squad. It's simply the nature of the beast.
After Indy's preseason opener on Sunday, we have a much clearer picture of what is going to happen with the team. Nothing is set in stone but we are beginning to see the outlines.
The suspense is killing me.
Let's take a look at who is doing their best Charlie Sheen impersonation for the Colts so far, along with those who haven't fared as well.
Winner: Andrew Luck
I thought the Robert Griffin III hype-train was going to drown out the Andrew Luck hype-mobile before it even got started.
Not after Sunday.
Luck's first NFL action was nothing short of brilliant.
Just like his predecessor 14 years ago, Indy's new signal-caller put six points on the board with his first professional pass.
Unlike Peyton Manning, however, Luck actually went on to have a pretty fantastic debut.
The first-overall pick in this year's draft finished 10-16 with 188 yards and two touchdowns.
His day would've been even more productive had receivers not dropped a few passes that were all right on target. Coby Fleener, Quan Cosby and Austin Collie all dropped on-target passes from Luck. Two of those passes would've gone for first downs.
Luck also nearly threw a third touchdown, connecting with Quan Cosby, who was tackled on the 1-yard line. He attempted a pass on the next play, but overthrew his intended target.
All in all, there are quite a few Colts fans excited about Luck right about now.
Loser: Pat Angerer
After a productive 2011 campaign and a solid start to training camp, Pat Angerer was injured on the first series of the Colts preseason opener.
What a letdown.
It is reportedly a foot injury, but the severity is not yet known. He has already undergone an MRI and is awaiting results in a walking boot.
Losing Angerer would be devastating for the Colts defense. Indy's top tackler in 2011, he has been touted as one of the most promising linebacker stars in the NFL. He was expected to be a vital cog in the Colts transition to a 3-4 defense this season.
Because of a season-ending injury to fellow linebacker A.J. Edds, Angerer's backup appears to be Jerrell Freeman.
Winner: Jerry Hughes
Jerry Hughes looks eager to erase that vicious, unforgiving title from his NFL resume: bust.
After two years in the league, it is pretty well stuck there for the time being. In his 24 career appearances for the Colts, he's managed only a single sack.
But Hughes couldn't be hurtling toward the 2012 season with any more momentum than he currently has behind him. Just last week he picked off Andrew Luck in practice. Now he has a two-sack game under his belt, too.
I know it's training camp. I know it's the preseason. I know it's the St. Louis Rams.
But I think we're all at least a little happy for the guy. Let's hope he continues his fine form.
Loser: The Offensive Line
In 2011, the St. Louis Rams gave up an ungodly 4.8 yards per carry. They gave up 0.5 more yards per carry than the Colts—who are infamous for porous run defense—did.
Yet, in their preseason opener, the Colts couldn't run the ball on the Rams. They averaged a paltry 3.6 yards per carry.
I would normally dismiss the numbers and say "it's the preseason."
But I would be lying if I said it didn't worry me. After all, the Colts don't have a proven running back. They lack a talented offensive line. They haven't shown any proficiency running the ball in the past.
They should've run it well against the Rams, but they didn't.
The offensive line was completely dominated throughout the exhibition. Only Vick Ballard averaged more than 4.0 yards per carry.
And it doesn't end there.
Andrew Luck was harassed from the first play by the Rams defensive line. He was hit a few times and forced to scramble a couple more.
That's not the kind of play you want to see from your offensive line against a middling front seven like the Rams.
Especially in the preseason.
Winner: Defensive Front-Seven
Though losing Pat Angerer was certainly a major blow to this unit, they still managed to put up a very respectable performance against the Rams.
Along with Jerry Hughes' two sacks, the unit recorded a number of quarterbacks pressures and brought Sam Bradford to the turf a few times.
The run defense was surprisingly effective, as well. After Rams starting tailback Steven Jackson was pulled, backup running back Isaiah Pead was held to 33 yards on 10 carries. The rest of the team was even worse and they finished with a 2.8 yards per carry average.
It was especially nice to see Robert Mathis getting pressure on Bradford. His adjustment to the outside linebacker position seems to be going swimmingly.
Loser: Coby Fleener
There are no reports coming out of camp about Coby Fleener. There are no remarkable plays or work habits to share. Worst of all, he was a complete non-factor in the game against the Rams.
He managed a single catch for five yards, and had a drop to go with it.
I'm not writing him off by any means. Obviously, it's far too soon to be passing off any long-term judgments on rookies.
But he's currently being considerably outshined by fellow rookie tight end Dwayne Allen in training camp.
Winner: Austin Collie
The featured picture depicts the only negative to report regarding Austin Collie. He dropped one pass against the Rams.
But outside of that, he was pretty good. He totaled three catches for 45 yards, including a 23-yard touchdown strike from Andrew Luck.
Luck and Collie seem to have developed a very nice chemistry in the early going, and Collie must be relieved by that.
After slinking into mediocrity last season, he no doubt thought the worst. He peaked in 2010 before succumbing to multiple concussions. When the team lost Peyton Manning, Collie was affected more than any other receiver, at least by the numbers.
So to have him looking as good as he has been is a relief. Both for him and us.
Loser: Darren Evans
The NFL is full of cliches.
"It's a game of field position."
"You play to win the game."
"What have you done for me lately?"
That last one in particular rings true for players like Darren Evans.
Signed by the previous regime, Evans is sitting as the fourth or fifth running back on the roster, at best. But the new coaching staff must have seen something in the halfback, who carried the rock a team-high eight times on Sunday.
Unfortunately, he didn't do much with those carries. He averaged a meager 3.1 yards per carry and never broke one longer than six yards. He did score a touchdown, but he managed to offset that score with a fumble on the Rams side of the field.
Evans is fighting for his roster life, and his performances will have to improve if he hopes to outlast the likes of Mewelde Moore, Delone Carter and even Vick Ballard.