Here's all you need to know for this Sunday's preseason game between the Indianapolis Colts and the Buffalo Bills at Lucas Oil Stadium. Game time of 1:30, will be broadcast on TV on WNDY and on radio on WFNI and WLHK in Indianapolis.
How much will Andrew Luck play?
On Monday, Andrew Luck was asked if, like his first year, he needs to play a lot this preseason. His answer was classic Luck, saying "Absolutely. Love to play a lot, need to play a lot, need to keep getting better." Chuck Pagano was then asked Tuesday if his signal caller and franchise quarterback would indeed be playing a lot. Put simply, Pagano said "no." He elaborated a bit, saying that "I'm sure someday Andrew will be calling all the shots, but he's only in his second year so we still have some say." It's safe to say that we won't be seeing Luck, or any of the other starters, long on Sunday. Expect about a series. In other words, if you don't tune in right at 1:30, you won't be seeing much of number 12.
What about Griff Whalen?
The biggest hype amongst Colts fans in training camp so far has been wide receiver Griff Whalen. And he has certainly looked impressive in training camp. He did in camp last year as well, and was really impressing in preseason action too until he was injured and lost for the year. Now he's back and healthy and at it again, catching everything thrown his way and looking very impressive. Chuck Pagano even said during the first week of camp that Whalen is making himself "necessary" to keep around, which is always a good sign. This Sunday, we'll get to see him on the field for the first time this year and those Colts fans who haven't been to camp yet will get to see him play. Just beware, when you see that number 17 out there on the field, you might do a double take thinking that it's Austin Collie. But no, it's Griff Whalen, and he's looking to make a name for himself - first starting by earning a roster spot, something he's well on his way to doing.
Josh Chapman's debut on the field for the Colts has been long anticipated, and we should see it on Sunday. He should see some good playing time, which is good for all of us who have waited to watch him in an actual game. The highlight of his camp so far has been when he took a double team, shoved it into 2 other linemen, and took out all four of them on one play. If he can do that against a line that isn't the Colts'... then we'll be very, very happy. #Chapnado is coming, everybody. You best be ready.
The Colts enter Sunday's game with serious questions about their safety depth. LaRon Landry (knee), Joe Lefeged (calf), Sergio Brown (hamstring), Larry Asante (shoulder), and John Boyett (knee, who is on the NFI list currently) all missed time this past week with injuries. It is unknown how many of them will be available for the game on Sunday. The team is usually very precautionary on these things in the preseason, although Chuck Pagano did say on Thursday that Landry should be ready to play. That said, Landry, as a starter, will likely only play one series (or roughly 10 snaps, as Greg Manusky said Monday), and Antoine Bethea, one of the few healthy guys at safety, may play even less. That leaves Delano Howell, Daxton Swanson, and Ashante Williams, who the team signed on Thursday. It is likely that some of the guys who have missed time with injury will play, but right now, we're just concerned about making it through the game with enough guys to play safety. Pagano said Thursday that corners Josh Gordy and Darius Butler saw some time there in OTAs and may be utilized at the position in Sunday's game. For Gordy especially, it would really help his roster chances if he displays versatility among the secondary. We'll see who plays and how much they play on Sunday, but all I'll say is this: Cory Redding, talking about the defense's versatility, joked on Tuesday about being able to play safety and cover if the team puts him back there. Maybe he wasn't kidding after all.
A notable former Colt who spent the past three seasons in Indy after the Colts took him in the first round in 2010 returns to Indianapolis to take on his former team in his first game with the Bills. We're talking about Jerry Hughes, for those of you who don't know - yeah, the same Jerry Hughes that complained about not getting to play much in Indy and said that Indy never really felt like home. [I could go on and on ripping Hughes, but I'll take the high road and just say this: there isn't a single Colts fan saying he didn't get to play enough. Every Colts fan actually thinks he got to play too much.] Either way, Hughes returns to Indy with the Bills and is second on their depth chart behind Mario Williams. After Williams goes out, we'll get to see Hughes. And no matter how well he does (he has been having a good camp so far), remember that he always does well in the preseason. And lastly, this is too good to pass up:
Will the Colts produce one of those fancy "Welcome Back" tribute videos for Jerry Hughes Sunday?— Jeremiah Johnson (@JJFOX59SPORTS) August 6, 2013
On the flip side, the guy the Colts got back in the Hughes trade will suit up for the Colts and play his first game in blue and white on Sunday as well. Kelvin Sheppard, an inside linebacker, will be given a chance to play and actually should start, considering that Pat Angerer is still on the PUP. It is unknown how much Sheppard will get to play, but he will likely see some pretty good playing time.
New Guys in Old Numbers:
Sunday might be hard for some of you. There are some guys who have taken old numbers that you are probably familiar with. I mentioned earlier that Griff Whalen is wearing number 17, which Austin Collie previously wore for the past four years (the Griffer even looks the part, too). You might see number 44 on the sidelines, as Ahmad Bradshaw wears Dallas Clark's old number but won't be playing because he is on the PUP. Lee Ziemba, the offensive tackle, is wearing number 63, which belonged to one of the most beloved Colts, Jeff Saturday. And Erik Walden, the outside linebacker that the team signed to replace Dwight Freeney on the field, also took Freeney's spot on the roster as well, number 93 and all. Like it is every preseason game, it might be good to have a roster with you while watching it. But hey, one thing is for sure - there won't be an 18 out there for the Colts on Sunday. There won't ever be, which is exactly how it should be.
Last year, in Andrew Luck's preseason debut with the Colts at Lucas Oil Stadium against the St. Louis Rams, his first pass went for 63 yards and a score. His first snap as an NFL quarterback, and it went for 6. That's a pretty great start, and Luck was asked to recall his first pass. His answer? "I don't know if you can categorize it as a pass. I literally did nothing. Donald Brown and the linemen and the wide receivers did the rest. It was fun. It was exciting, it really was. I will remember that for a long time." So will every Colts fan watching it. A year later, so many things have changed and Luck is so much better, but it's going to be hard to top that first pass last year.
Who Won't Play?
Here's a list of the guys who missed practice on Friday: Dwayne Allen, LaRon Landry, Hugh Thornton, Khaled Holmes, Jerrell Freeman, Teddy Williams, Dan Moore, Josh McNary, Joe Lefeged, Mario Harvey, and Bjoern Werner. The only players Chuck Pagano would rule out after Friday's practice were Allen, Thornton, Holmes, and Freeman. He said that he expects Werner to play and also is hopeful that Landry will play, although I'm very skeptical about whether that actually happens. Another guy I wouldn't expect to play Sunday is Darrius Heyward-Bey. He looks healthy and looked good in practice on Friday, but there's really no reason to play him this Sunday.