Tonight the Colts play their third of four preseason games, a home contest against the Cleveland Browns. The game will be broadcast locally on TV on WNDY and on the radio on WFNI and WHLK. The third preseason game is the one that teams generally treat as closest to a regular season game, the one where the starters usually play into the third quarter. That considered, here's what you need to know to get ready for tonight's game.
How Long will the Starters Play?
As mentioned earlier, the third preseason game is the one where the starters play the longest. Just how long will the Colts' starters play tonight? Chuck Pagano addressed that topic on Thursday, saying: "As you know, we're going to try with this game to play our starters for a half, go in. We talked about making halftime adjustments and then come out and get a series in the third quarter and then we'll finish the game with our twos and threes. Really important game as you know, with the 75-man cut down coming up on Tuesday, getting to 75 it's very important for a lot of these young players, free agent guys to go out and play well and make a case for themselves." Tonight will be the best chance that we have to see this team in action until the regular season opener on September 8th. The biggest rule of analyzing preseason games is to not overreact, and that remains true today. That said, however, this will indeed give us the most to analyze until the regular season. And just another note, the veteran guys (such as Reggie Wayne, Cory Redding, Robert Mathis, etc.) won't play as long as the other starters, something that's expected but that I just wanted to make sure I note.
Andrew Luck called this game a "dress rehearsal," saying: "Yeah, this is the dress rehearsal, the most extended time, a chance to really go out there and hopefully put some good stuff on tape and if it's not all good, a chance to fix it before the opener. So a lot of focus going into this game." That's what this game really is, as the starters will see significant time for the last time before they begin the games that actually count. Really, with most starters not even dressing in the fourth game, that's a very accurate description of it. And it will be a good test as well, as the Browns' starting defense has only allowed 3 points so far this preseason and Brandon Weeden has been very good at quarterback.
Who Won't Play?
The Colts' inactives will not be announced until an hour or so before game time tonight, but we do have a good idea of who won't be playing. Offensive guard Mike McGlynn took a shot to the knee in Wednesday's practice and left early. His MRI came back negative and it's a bone bruise, but he still won't play tonight. Chuck Pagano said that Jeff Linkenbach will start for him. Tight end Coby Fleener won't play either after suffering a knee sprain in last week's game. Dwayne Allen, another tight end, won't play in the game as well, but he did see significant practice time this week and should absolutely be ready for the regular season. Ahmad Bradshaw also practiced this week for the first time as a Colt, but he won't play either. Another guy recently activated from the PUP, inside linebacker Pat Angerer, will play, however, and Pagano expects him to see about 15-20 snaps. Safety LaRon Landry is set to make his debut in a Colts uniform, as he was back at practice this week. And lastly, Hugh Thornton, a rookie offensive lineman who missed training camp with an injury, will play this week for the first time as a Colt. While he likely won't play much with the first team seeing as this is his first NFL action, Pagano did indeed mention that Thornton might see some time in with the first team.
Colts Host "Back to Football" Run
One last, fun note is that this morning the Colts hold their first annual "Back to Football" Run, which is a 5K that will go throughout downtown Indianapolis and will finish at the 50-yard line of Lucas Oil Stadium. It's a cool idea to kick off the season and a cool way to get people active and at the same time involved with the Colts. For more info on the run, head here.