Indianapolis Colts vs. Green Bay Packers: 10 Reasons To Watch
The Colts are 4-20 since 2005 in the preseason and 0-2 in 2010 exhibition play. And yet you don't hear the Colts or their fans complaining.
Why? Because it's the preseason and in the preseason, wins and losses don't count.The most important aspect of the preseason is preparation and the second is evaluation.
It is not always possible to translate wins in the preseason to wins in the regular season, just ask the 2008 Detroit Lions (4-0 in the preseason, 0-16 in the regular season).
So anyone out there who is worried, don't be. Anyone out there who sees Curtis Painter as the future of the Indianapolis Colts because he went five for six for 97 yards and had a perfect quarterback rating against the lowly second unit of the Buffalo Bills, calm down as well.
Thursday's game will be a much better indicator of what to expect from the Colts in 2010. Get your popcorn ready.
Peyton and The First Team Offense
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As I am sure you are all aware the third game of the NFL preseason is considered the "dress rehearsal", if you will for NFL teams.
This is the game where starters are likely to play deep into the third quarter and it is likely the last time we will see many of the starters for the remainder of the preseason, in order to avoid injury.
Peyton Manning and the offense will play for the longest duration of time since the Super Bowl. Knowing Manning's work ethic and attention to detail, he will be more than ready for Green Bay's 3-4 defense.
The question remains how in sync will he and his weapons be come Thursday night? For the first two games the offense has looked crisp—the first offense anyway and that should continue tonight.
The Green Bay defense is superior to that of the Bills and should present a taller task for the Colts. The Packers are nowhere near where the 49ers were however, when the Colts faced off against Mike Singletary's group a few weeks ago, so the running game should perform better.
Look for Manning to run the dink and dunk offense to get everyone in a rhythm and then later extend the field with a few deep passes.
No Dallas Clark, Means More Jacob Tamme
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Dallas Clark will likely sit out tonight's game (leg) which is disappointing but he should be ready for week one of the regular season. He told the Indy Star that he is certain he will make his return when the first week rolls around.
"The good thing is it's making improvement and, worst-case scenario, I'll definitely be there for week one," Clark told the Indianapolis Star. "That's a reassuring thing."
Due to Clark's absence third-year man Jacob Tamme will get a lot of playing time with the first team offense.
Tamme, although listed as the starting fullback is a threat in the passing game and in my opinion could blossom into a star one day. He has the speed, agility and hands to be a quality pass catcher for many years to come. Look for him to make an impact in Clark's absence.
Pierre Garcon Returns
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Pierre Garcon returned to practice this week after an undisclosed injury and should be ready to start this week's game in Green Bay.
Manning will likely look for Garcon more this year than his 47 catch performance in 2009 indicates and tonight should be the beginning of a lot of targets for Haiti's darling. He missed the first two preseason games with the injury and should see some time tonight.
It is, however, unlikely he will play more than a half but Colts fans should get a heavy dose early on of Garcon.
Anthony Gonzalez Should Get More Targets
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There are reports circulating that Austin Collie could miss tonight's game which combined with Pierre Garcon making his first appearance of the preseason, could mean more opportunities for Anthony Gonzalez.
Gonzalez didn't have a great week against Buffalo, recording two catches for a mere eight yards but his statistics should improve this week with injuries to Dallas Clark and Collie.
Gonzalez is in the middle of a competition for the slot position that Austin Collie owned for the majority of last season. If the reports are true and Collie doesn't go, then Gonzalez could claim that spot with a solid performance in tonight's contest.
Clint Session To Make Debut
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Clint Session has been held out of the first two preseason games and that has left a "bad taste" in his mouth. Session told reporters this week that he hasn't been able to hit anyone since the Super Bowl and looks forward to this week's game against Green Bay.
After making the switch to weak side linebacker Session is proving to be quite the dynamic player. Not only does he make bone-jarring hits and swift tackles, he has improved in pass coverage as well.
Session's return is a welcom sight to the Colts' defense who have allowed 276 yards rushing in two preseason games. He could become a legitimate star this year for the Colts if he can remain healthy.
Session recorded 103 tackles last year and has averaged 98 tackles over the last two. Look for him to best his career high in tackles in 2010.
The Secondary Against Aaron Rodgers and Company
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Kelvin Hayden, you have your work cut out for you. Aaron Rodgers, Greg Jennings, Donald Driver and Jermichael Finley are going to make the Colts' secondary's life a living hell tonight.
Rodgers is coming off his best season as a pro, as he threw for 4,434 yards, 30 touchdowns and only seven picks. This preseason he is 20 of 24 passing for 275 yards, with three touchdowns and zero interceptions.
The Colts secondary, the starters anyway, have performed pretty well. The Colts have allowed 426 yards in two games which averages out to about 213 yards passing a game and have surrendered only two passing touchdowns.
But the 49ers and Bills had laughable firepower compared to the Packers' stacked deck. If the Colts have a pass rush on that awful Packers' offensive line, the Colts' secondary could hold off Rodgers and crew long enough for the offense to establish some kind of lead.
Joseph Addai and The Rushing Attack: Again
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I probably sound like a broken record at this point but Joseph Addai and Donald Brown need to give Peyton Manning at the very least a modest rushing attack in 2010.
The Colts asked too much of Peyton Manning last season and although Manning answered the bell, there is no need to continue to lean on him so heavily.
Addai and Brown have rushed a combined 16 times for 43 yards yards in preseason play. A lot of that had to do with their horrendous performance against San Francisco but the Colts need a consistent rushing attack and this duo will have to provide it.
Pass Rush Is Key
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As I said before the Colts' pass rush is the key to their defense. If Dwight Freeney and Robert Mathis can get to Aaron Rodgers, the Colts will stand a much better chance against this explosive Packer offense.
Freeney and Mathis, in limited playing time, have combined for two tackles, both of which were Robert Mathis's. If the Colts plan on being successful this season, both will have to continue their string of nine plus sacks a year, a feat they have accomplished the last two seasons.
Bob Sanders: WIll He Or Won't He?
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Bob Sanders played for the first time this preseason last week against the Bills. Sanders recorded two tackles in his first appearance since early in the 2009 season.
Whether Sanders will play tonight is uncertain because Jim Caldwell saw what he needed to see last week. He looked healthy and quick, one of which he rarely is and the other he is when he's healthy. Like I mentioned last week, if he does play, he will play a few series and then make an early exit.
There is no reason to jeopardize his health in a meaningless game and I think Sanders and the Colts would be better off if he just rested the next two weeks and prepared for Houston and week one.
Curtis Painter: Which Performance Should We Put More Stock In?
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Curtis Painter played very well last week, I will give him that. But he one, did it against the second team defense and two, did it against the second team defense of the Buffalo Bills. I know a lot of people want Painter to succeed and I'm not against it.
But just because he had a decent game last week does not mean he is the answer at back-up or that Tom Brandstater isn't. Painter, other than against the Bills, has been atrocious. Just look at the numbers.
2010 NFL Preseason Statistics
QB Rating: 49.3 Att: 25 Comp: 14 Comp %: 56 TD: 1 INT: 3
Those stats are not impressive, they're not even mediocre. I'm not saying Brandstater has played that much better but he does have slightly better numbers and looks more comfortable out there. Painter will likely get a quarter of playing time or less and Brandstater may not see the field but in my eyes this job is still up for grabs.
Next week when Brandstater is likely to play a good portion of the game, he will get his opportunity to prove himself.