NFL Preseason: 5 Things the Indianapolis Colts Learned from Their Third Game
Adding another tally to its preseason "L" column doesn't bother the team at all. While it would have been nice to see the team capture a victory in front of its home fans after a solid effort, all in all it really doesn't matter that the team lost.
Why? Because the players who essentially lost the game for the Colts won't even end up making the team.
What fans should care about is how the team played in the first half when all of the starters from both teams were in the game.
By those numbers, the Colts led 14-10 at halftime.
Players always say the third preseason game is the most important because it is when everything starts to come together for them and they stay in longer than they do in any other preseason game.
Here are five ideas for the Colts to take away from their biggest tuneup before the regular season.
Curtis Painter Did Just Enough to Save His Job
Joe Robbins/Getty Images
He wasn't great.
But more importantly for Curtis Painter, he wasn't awful either. In fact he may have put on his best performance as a Colt Friday night against the Packers.
Painter completed just over 50 percent of his passes, for 171 yards, including two touchdowns and no interceptions.
Not great, but not awful either.
He looked commanding on his two-minute drive that he capped off with a touchdown pass to Chris Brooks to finish the second quarter. He calmly drove the team down the field, including a long bomb to Pierre Garcon, to put the team in position to score.
Painter did miss a few throws, and receivers Reggie Wayne and Garcon made him look good on more than one play, but overall, Painter played a solid roll in the offense.
While it wasn't a good-enough performance for fans to forgive Painter and actually want to have him on the team, it was good enough for him not to get booed. It's a step in the right direction.
He wasn't perfect, but he may have been good enough to make the Colts keep three quarterbacks on their roster for the first time in the Peyton Manning era.
The Right Side of the O-Line Is Solid
Donald Miralle/Getty Images
The Colts must have a strong running game this year to compete, and despite what some people think, it takes more than just a talented back to make that happen.
It all starts with the big boys up front.
Friday night, with Ryan Diem moving in to right guard and Jeff Linkenbach starting at right tackle, the right side of the line did its job and got a push.
Joseph Addai had huge holes to run through on the right side to start the game. When the Colts tried to move out left, he didn't have quite as much success, but the right side proved to be the strong side.
It looks as though the Diem adjustment was a good one, and rookie Ben Ijalana will have to wait before he sees any action at right tackle.
Jacob Lacey Needs to Improve
The Packers took advantage of Lacey the same way the Jets did in the Colts Wild Card exit in the 2010 playoffs.
Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images
Jacob Lacey looked bad —really bad —against the Packers.
He was consistently beaten by the bigger, faster Packers receivers. In zone coverage he tried jumping routes, and his hole was exploited. He also missed a tackle, something the Colts know they can't afford to do.
The only reason Lacey led the team in tackles is because the Packers kept throwing to his side of the field because it was wide open.
The Packers caught on to Lacey's weakness and, on at least one occasion, threw to his side of the field on back-to-back pass plays.
If Jacob Lacey is the Colts' second starting corner, he can't be a liability. Even if Jerraud Powers can lock down his side of the field, it doesn't mean anything if Lacey consistently leaves three-yard cushions for the receivers he's covering.
Delone Carter Will Play This Year
Andy Lyons/Getty Images
No player has impressed me more for the Colts this preseason than Delone Carter.
When Carter came into the game, the running game immediately improved. He hits the hole hard and quick, and he's not afraid to try to run through defenders.
Carter actually fights for yards, something fans used to see Donald Brown do.
While Carter had several good runs (seven carries, 27 yards, 12-yard long), his most encouraging run was when he broke a tackle at the line of scrimmage on 3rd-and-1 to pick up the first down.
For years the Colts' Achilles heel has been the dreaded 3rd-and-1. Carter may just be the third-down back the Colts have been looking for.
As a side note, the Colts running game as a whole was solid last night as the team collectively rushed for 112 yards and averaged 4.1 yards per carry.
This Defensive Line Is Fierce
Joe Robbins/Getty Images
When you add Tommie Harris, Jamaal Anderson, and Drake Nevis to an already solid pass rush, the sky is the limit.
The D-Line consistently had Aaron Rodgers under pressure and recorded five sacks.
Dwight Freeney looked like Dwight Freeney. Harris proved he can still rush the passer. Anderson did a tango with Rodgers. And Nevis looks better and better the more he plays.
As long as it can prove that it can stop the run at the point of attack, this defensive line will be one of the biggest strengths for the Colts this season.