The Indianapolis Colts will give third-year quarterback Curtis Painter his first NFL start Monday night against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Painter will face the NFL's 24th-ranked defense, but will be in charge of an offense that is tied for last in the NFL, averaging just 254 yards per game.
For his career, Painter has completed 13 of 39 passes (33.3 percent), for 143 yards, with no touchdowns and two interceptions. He has taken four sacks and has fumbled three times. In short, expectations should be extremely low for his starting debut tonight.
Painter can throw the football, he has a decent arm and has shown a little touch in preseason appearances, but he's also mistake-prone. In addition to that, when he played during last week's 23-20 loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers, he showed a lack of timing with his targets that was more than a little concerning.
With Kerry Collins at the helm of the offense, the Colts gained just 164 yards per game through the first three weeks of the season, which ranks 29th in the NFL. So, the Colts will need to get Joseph Addai and the running game going early to even have a prayer against the Buccaneers.
The only way Painter will survive tonight's road contest is if the Colts' offensive line keeps him upright and Reggie Wayne and Dallas Clark find ways to get open. Indianapolis' Pro Bowl pass-catching duo has been largely ineffective so far this year. Wayne has just 14 catches for 196 yards and a touchdown, while Clark has 10 catches for just 83 yards and a touchdown.
Both of those guys need to step up and make themselves available to Painter, or tonight's game could get ugly very fast.