How will the Colts fair against the Bills?
The Colts suffered a loss in their preseason opener against the San Francisco 49ers but winning isn't important in preseason. Finding depth and staying healthy should be the focus for Indy when they play Buffalo tonight.
The play of the secondary, the back-up quarterback battle, the rushing attack and the return game will all be areas to focus on against the Bills. Here is my take on what could happen in tonight's contest.
Brown (left) and Addai (right) should do fairly well this week against the Bills.
Joesph Addai and Donald Brown should have a more productive day against the Bills than they did against the 49ers stout rushing defense. The Bills had the 30th ranked rush defense last season allowing 156.3 rushing yards a contest.
Addai and Brown struggled against the 49ers, only earning seven yards on 10 carries. 11 of those yards were Addai's as Brown ran for negative four yards on five carries. The running game was absent as it almost always has been in recent years with the Colts.
The duo's production last week was awful, to call it horrendous would be putting it lightly.
The pair of first round halfbacks should see more holes open against the Bills and should put last week's game behind them.
Tom Brandstater is going to win this job. He has superior athletic ability, arm strength and accuracy compared to his counterpart Curtis Painter.
Neither Brandstater or Painter played overwhelmingly well last week but Painter finished with three interceptions and a 16.0 quarterback rating. Painter has no pocket pres and almost seems scared out there. I think when push comes to shove Brandstater will not only outperform Painter, he will gain the trust of Coach Jim Caldwell and leave Painter filing for unemployment.
Brandstater will have a big game against the Bills and solidify his roster spot.The only question I have is who will take over for Peyton when Caldwell takes out the starters?
The starters in the secondary played relatively well against the Niners' passing attack and should give a repeat performance this week. Second-year corner Jerraud Powers will not play against the Bills because of soreness in his right foot.
Powers picked off an Alex Smith pass and returned it 53 yards last week. His presence will be missed but not all that much because of the competition. The BIlls are more of a running team and despite big injuries to Fred Jackson and Marshawn Lynch should stick to what they do best, pound the rock with C.J. Spiller and pass when needed.
No surprise here, Peyton's playing time will increase but it may not last a half due to offensive line injuries. If the line plays well, he should get the majority of two quarters in before Caldwell pulls him.
Look for Peyton to try quicker passes then usual if the line proves to be inadequate against the Bills' pass rush. If the line holds up over the first quarter, the offense may start taking deeper shots at the Bills' defense.
Manning looked crisp last week against the 49ers completing eight of 10 passes for 91 yards in the 37-17 loss. He could find it a bit more difficult to find open targets as the BIlls owned the second best passing defense in 2009.
Brandon James averaged 28 yards a return last week but only had a five yard return on the one punt he took back. If James gets an opportunity, look for him to make some solid contributions in the punt return game.
He didn't do anything spectacular last week but could earn the return job this week with a big play or two. He has game breaking speed and agility, if he finds some open space the Bills' special teams could be looking at the back of his jersey on his way to six.
Jerry Hughes had a quiet game against the 49ers last week, only recording one tackle but he should have a more successful night against the Bills' offensive front.
Hughes has game changing speed for his position and should be productive this season in the sack department. He could get started this week, unofficially of course, at harassing the signal caller.
The Bills' allowed 46 quarterback sacks (4th) and 103 quarterback hits (2nd) in 2009. If Hughes is able to get to the edge, he should record his first unofficial sack in his NFL career.
The injuries to the line keep piling up. First it was veteran center Jeff Saturday and left tackle Charlie Johnson. Ever since Sunday's loss to San Francisco, right guard Kyle DeVan has been out with a hamstring issue.
Peyton Manning is obviously the face of the Colts and one of the many of the NFL. He needs to be protected and what is now looking like a makeshift offense line, that protection could be in jeopardy. Unfortunately this unit will struggle, if it doesn't tonight it most definitely will against the Packers next week.
So until Saturday and crew get back to a full bill of health, Manning better watch his back because apparently no one else will be watching it for him.
Bob Sanders looked relatively healthy during training camp but did not play against the 49ers, a sign that maybe his biceps still bother him and he was too injured to play.
I don't think you will see Sanders on the field tonight because it is the preseason and even if he were healthy enough to play in the regular season, Coach Jim Caldwell does not want to risk Sanders' regular season hopes for a meaningless game in August.
If he somehow does get in, look for him to play one to two series and call it a day.
Before the preseason even began, I made a comment in one of my columns that Pat Angerer could eventually take over for current starter Gary Brackett. Well, he's not there yet but he former Iowa Hawkeye and 2010 second round pick had an impressive debut last week.
He recorded eight tackles and two sacks in his professional debut. Sure, it was against the second string offense but impressive nonetheless. I fully expect Angerer to keep up the pace and potentially record 10+ tackles tonight in Buffalo.
Adam Vinatieri made a 21-yard field goal and his only PAT attempt Sunday. He has looked pretty healthy for the most part this off-season after only playing six games last year.
He should get a half's worth of work this week and return to full kick-off duty but do not expect him to be kicking from long distance this year. He has made a mere two field goals from 50+ yards over the last seven seasons. Surprising? Yeah, I had that reaction too.
The kicking game should be fine because let's be honest, with Peyton and crew moving the ball down the field, 50 yard field goals are anything but the norm.