Earlier this week, we talked about guys who needed to prove something in this third preseason game. While guys like Tom Brandstater weren't even given a chance despite Curtis Painter fumbling twice and throwing yet another interception, guys like Ricardo Mathews and Mike Hart showed up a little bit.
Unfortunately, several other players simply did not perform, and when you look at the entirety of their training camp and preseason, they simply have not done enough to win a spot on the 53-man roster.
Ray needed to make a play to justify a roster spot, and he did. Is he guaranteed anything? No. The muffed punt against the Bills will always linger in Jim Caldwell's mind. However, his 58 yard return last night was the 'Wow' play he needed in order to get back in the good graces of the coaches. He also had two tackles and I don't think his coverage was too bad.
There's been some debate as to how well he played, but Fili stepped in for Antonio Johnson (who injured his groin) and the Colts were still very stout stuffing Green Bay's run (2.7 a carry). He engaged blockers well, allowing Pat Angerer (who subbed in for Gary Bracket) to rack up 10 tackles.
As stated earlier, we had a Mathews sighting! He made a few tackles and I saw him in the backfield a few times disrupting plays and, generally, being active. Ricardo is very much on the bubble with the 53-man roster. He needed a decent game like this to even get considered for practice squad.
If Tony Dungy were still the head coach, James would be cut this morning. His muffed punt was absolutely inexcusable. I remember seeing one-time Colts returner (now current Saints returner) Courtney Roby fumble a kick return in a preseason game against the Bills in 2008. I knew right then Roby would not make the team. He was cut a short time later. Special teams players who fumble are as useless as receivers who can't catch. Right now, James can't catch AND he fumbles on punt returns. It's amazing in that James looked decent in the first two preseason games, but it is telling that in the first 'dress rehearsal' game, he chokes. He's gone.
Let's look at the stats, shall we? 6-11, 97 yards and a pick for the game. He also had two fumbles. Painter's numbers for preseason are 20-36,194 yards, 1 TD, 4 INTs, and 3 fumbles. I will, once again, quote Bill Polian:
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.
So, with the lights on, Curtis has been dreadful. Hell, with the 'lights off,' on the practice field, he's been equally bad. He's done nothing to justify a roster spot. He most certainly has not made any kind of 'second year jump,' as Bob Lamey suggested he had during training camp. Painter isn't good enough to play Arena League. If the Colts keep him, Bill Polian is a hypocrite. I'm sure the Colts will say the same, dumb 'You people don't see the film. you don't know how to evaluate. Blah. Blah. Blah.' In most cases, that can be true. But not this one. I've DVRed and watched Painter's progressions, his throws, his decision-making. They're all awful. But even that aside, the basic tenet of the Colts is 'How do you perform with the lights on?' Well, with Painter we know. Thus, if the team keeps him despite his poor play, they're hypocrites.