So, yeah. Preseason games kind of suck for fans. They're sloppy. They're mistake-filled. They're 'fake' football games that you just hope to get through without seeing anyone get hurt.
But, just because preseason is a mind numbing, painful experience for fans doesn't mean that it's 'meaningless.' Indeed, preseason is very important to determine which players are truly ready to play in the NFL. It's one thing to look good in a night scrimmage, where teammates are not allowed to bring you to the ground. It's another to have to do your job in a live game.
We've talked about certain players who needed to show something in order to win a roster spot on this team for 2010. Here, we discuss how this preseason game either helped or hurt their cause to become Colts. Also, I'll add a new name to this list, and while the timing might suggest he's in trouble because of one bad game, the reality is he has looked bad throughout his tenure with the Colts in particular during this year's training camp.
Devin Moore, RB
On a day where the running game looked abysmal, Devin Moore was on of the few bright spots. He ran for 26 yards on four carries, and for a 5'9, 200 pound player, he did so with impressive authority. He had burst through the hole and had some 'shake' when trying to elude tacklers. He did not get a chance to showcase any return skills, which is the area he has the best shot to make the club. However, as a running back today, Devin looked good.
Blair White, WR
Chris Polian's favorite rookie made a case for himself, big time. He was physical. He was precise in his rout-running. He was clearly the only receiver Curtis Painter and Tom Brandstater trusted. The fourth quarter grab to set-up the Jacob Tamme touchdown was the kind of playmaking coaches want to see. With a defender shoving his fingers into White's eyeballs, he still managed to come down with the reception and draw the interference call. White caught four passes for 38 yards on the day.
Javarris James, RB
He wasn't as good as Moore was today, but Javarris showed that he could run for tough yards and could play physical. He finished with 4 carries for 17 yards, but the yards he got were after one, two, sometimes three people hitting him. He also showed some good pass blocking skills in the fourth quarter.
Curtis Painter, QB
Painter's name is here not because he had a terrible game. He's here because he's had a terrible camp in addition to having a terrible game. You might recall that Painter three INTs during the team's annual Blue v. White scrimmage last week. In pretty much every camp report I've read, people have told me Painter has looked tentative, is making bad throws, and just looks lost. On Sunday against the 49ers, he looked as bad as he's done all camp, only this time there were fancy cameras pointed at him, recording his inept quarterback skills. If we follow Bill Polian's own mantra ("You can get something from the practice field, but not everything. They don't keep score at practice. They only keep score when the lights go on."), can anyone tell me what Painter has done to earn the confidence of the Colts? What has he done ON THE FOOTBALL FIELD to warrant staying on this team? The answer is very little. If Painter continues playing this way, I cannot see him making the final roster. If he continues to struggle but still makes the team, Bill Polian is a hypocrite.
Taj Smith, WR
Like so many other players, Smith has been wonderful in training camp. He's caught every ball thrown and him; run every route like a seasoned veteran. Today, with 'the lights on,' he was awful. Smith finished the game with 3 receptions for 38 yards. He should have had 6 receptions for 100 yards and a score. There were far too many dropped passes by Smith today, including what would have been a beautiful TD throw from the before-mentioned Curtis Painter. Smith had beaten his man and was streaking to the endzone. Painter put the ball right into Smith's fingers... and he dropped it. Smith also had a bad holding penalty on special teams that nullified a good kick return by Brandon James.
Mike Newton, S
I know Newton looked good in the scrimmage last week, but apparently Curtis Painter has a way of making defenders look better than they actually are. Newton was the one who picked off Painter three times in that scrimmage, but in his first preseason game for the Colts, he looked lost. On Anthony Dixon's five yard TD run in the fourth quarter, Newton was pretty handily stiff-armed and dropped by Dixon as he strolled into the endzone. That was Newton's chance to make a play, an he was owned by Dixon.