New York vs. Indianapolis: Colts Preseason Week 2 Game Preview
The Indianapolis Colts are preparing for their matchup against the New York Giants in Week 2 of the preseason, and while the preseason doesn't mean much, it will be another great opportunity to see some of the younger players get some in-game experience.
The preseason started for the Colts with a 13-10 loss to the New York Jets, but the injuries that occurred in the game hurt the team more than the loss did. Starting center Khaled Holmes, who has yet to get significant in-game experience in the NFL, went down with an ankle injury that will cost him two to three weeks, according to Marc Sessler from NFL.com.
After the last game, the Colts will be hoping that they can avoid any more injuries to their starters, but the good news is that several players who have been sitting out at training camp are expected to be ready to play on Saturday.
Newly-acquired wide receiver Hakeem Nicks will get to see some of his old teammates on Saturday as well after spending his first five seasons in the NFL with the Giants. Safety Antrel Rolle said that he was looking forward to seeing his old teammate, but mentioned that he won't exactly be friendly on the field.
"I'm excited to see Hakeem, but there are no friends out there on the field, and I know he understands that," Rolle told ESPN's Dan Graziano. "I know he feels the same way about us. This is home for him. I'm just looking forward to the game. It's going to be a great battle."
The result doesn't matter for either team, but both are hoping that some of the fringe roster players can step up and prove themselves.
Colts Preseason Week 1 Recap
The Colts may have lost 13-10 to the Jets last week, but the good news is that some of the reserves played quite well and will be looking to put up strong back-to-back performances.
Matt Hasselbeck looked especially comfortable last week, going 10-of-15 for 114 yards and a touchdown. He had an especially impressive throw down the sideline that hit Da'Rick Rogers for a 45-yard gain. While Hasselbeck won't take the starting job, it was nice to see that he can come in and run the offense without too much trouble if Luck ever gets hurt.
Running back Dan Herron also made a good impression after putting up 62 total yards and a touchdown on 13 touches. With Vick Ballard on season-ending injured reserve, the depth at running back is a concern, but if Herron can emerge as a No. 3 back behind Trent Richardson and Ahmad Bradshaw, that could be a big lift later in the year.
Herron looked solid in the first game, but now it will be someone else's time to shine against the Giants.
News and Notes
Reggie Wayne Ready to Go?
After tearing his ACL this past season, Wayne has impressed at training camp and looks like he'll be ready to play by the season opener against the Denver Broncos. While he didn't play in the first preseason game, Wayne says that he's ready to go.
“I feel good. If I do get called, I’ll be ready,” Wayne told Kevin Bowen from Colts.com. “If not, then hopefully the following week.”
While that's a promising sign, Bowen noted that neither Wayne or head coach Chuck Pagano would give a definitive answer on whether or not No. 87 would actually play against the Giants. From the time I spent at Colts camp, Wayne looked great, but there was very limited contact.
Things could change once he starts getting hit, but the Colts still have a few weeks before Wayne has to be ready to go for the season opener, so it's hard to blame the coaching staff if they decide to sit him out on Saturday.
T.Y. Hilton Confident in Receivers
After a very strong first two years, T.Y. Hilton is emerging as a true star at the position. However, he feels that he's not the only dominant receiver on the team.
According to George Bremer from the Herald Bulletin, Hilton believes that the Colts have three true No. 1 receivers, including himself, Wayne and Hakeem Nicks.
While it's nice to see that Hilton has confidence in the team, it remains to be seen whether or not Wayne and Nicks can return to form. Wayne is still a question mark after the knee injury, while Nicks had just 56 receptions and zero touchdowns in 2013.
The good news for these three guys is that Andrew Luck is throwing them the ball, so it won't be too hard for them to put up solid numbers in 2014 as long as they can stay healthy.
LaRon Landry and Vontae Davis Preparing to Make Preseason Debut
The Colts secondary is one of the bigger concerns heading into the regular season, especially because of the lack of depth. Granted, there is some legitimate starting talent, but if one of the starters go down, the defense could be in trouble.
Because of that, fans were nervous for the first two weeks of the preseason when both LaRon Landry and Vontae Davis were unable to practice with groin injuries. However, ESPN's Mike Wells reported that both players should be ready to play against the Giants, although it's unclear how many snaps they'll each get.
Fortunately, the injuries don't appear too serious, but both Landry and Davis will need to stay healthy throughout the year, or else opposing quarterbacks could put up big numbers against the Colts.
All injury statuses from ESPN.com.
As the Indianapolis Colts prepare for their second game of the NFL preseason, all that fans are hoping for is that the team can stay healthy enough to start the 2014 season strong.
Unfortunately, that hasn't been the case so far.
Both Vick Ballard and Donald Thomas are already out for the year after a torn Achilles and re-torn quad, respectively. After the ankle injury to Holmes, who is listed as questionable but won't play Saturday, the injuries are already quickly piling up.
The interior of the offensive line was a major weakness in 2013, but things were looking up this coming season. Samson Satele was gone and Thomas was supposed to be healthy. Now, Thomas is gone, Holmes is hurt and Hugh Thornton is looking to improve after a rough rookie season.
Rookie Jack Mewhort may be able to fill the hole at offensive guard, but if Holmes gets hurt again, there aren't really any options at center. Jonotthan Harrison took some snaps against the Jets after Holmes went down, but he seriously struggled.
With how many injuries the Colts have already suffered, they'll be thrilled if they can at least get through this next game without anyone getting hurt.
X-Factor and Matchups to Watch
Rashad Jennings vs. Colts Run Defense
Pagano has always been a firm believer in stopping the run on defense, and the Colts made sure to add pieces to help do exactly that. New faces like Arthur Jones and D'Qwell Jackson will look to plug up rushing lanes and get the running back down in the backfield.
Returning players like Cory Redding and Ricky Jean-Francois will be key cogs as well, but all eyes will be on Josh Chapman. He'll finally get his chance to be the go-to nose tackle, and while he looked good in the limited snaps he played in 2013, it's unclear if he has the potential to be the long-term option.
Going against running backs like Rashad Jennings and Andre Williams should be a nice early test for this front seven.
Darius Butler vs. Victor Cruz
As long as Greg Toler is able to stay healthy, Darius Butler will be a slot cornerback on defense for the Colts, and that's where he naturally thrives. He'll play some slot in the game, but may play on the outside as well if Davis is playing limited snaps.
While he may not get a ton of opportunities in a preseason game, Butler will have a great opportunity to prove himself as a corner by going against one of the deadlier receivers in Victor Cruz.
Cruz has been a legitimate threat the past few seasons, putting up 998 yards and four touchdowns in 2013. He hasn't seen a ton of action in the team's first two preseason games, but it will be an intriguing matchup if Butler has to end up covering him.
Dan Herron vs. Giants Defense
As the likely third-string running back, I want to see what Herron can do now that people are starting to notice him. He likely won't be going up against first-team guys, but the Giants have some interesting depth pieces in their front seven, including Damontre Moore.
Herron showed good field vision and decisiveness in the first game, but in the NFL, one preseason game doesn't make you a star. Nothing is a guarantee in this league, and if Herron struggles for the rest of the preseason, he could be gone.
This will be an important game for Herron. There's a good chance he's already secured a spot on the roster, but another strong outing could solidify his spot as the No. 3 running back on the depth chart.
Colts' X-Factor of the Week: Donte Moncrief
The Colts already have a ton of weapons at both wide receiver and tight end, but one guy I would like to see get a lot of snaps on Saturday is Donte Moncrief. He had just one reception for 16 yards in their preseason opener, but he'll likely get some more touches against the Giants.
Along with making plays on the offense, it looks like Moncrief could be the return man on kickoffs. At 6'2'' and 221 pounds, Moncrief has a lot of speed and strength to help give the Colts better field position than they had last season.
Moncrief will get plenty of looks against the Giants, so expect him to make a big play or two during the game.
It's always tough to make a prediction for a preseason game, as the result depends more on the talent of the depth players than the starters. Colts fans are accustomed to that, as they would rarely win preseason games during the Peyton Manning era.
Still, there are some promising pieces behind the starters. Hasselbeck and Herron seem to be playing well up to this point, while reserves like Jonathan Newsome and Cam Johnson are showing some potential on defense. The secondary could be a major issue, but Curtis Painter will be the quarterback for at least a few drives, and anyone that followed the Colts in 2011 knows that he shouldn't be an issue.
Ryan Nassib, on the other hand, might be able to get some work done, and with Andre Williams in the backfield, the Giants offense should be able to put up some points. I think that the Giants will win this, but the Colts should be more worried about avoiding injuries.
Prediction: Giants 14, Colts 10