Tonight the Colts play their final of four preseason games, taking on the Cincinnati Bengals on the road. The game begins at 7:00 PM eastern time and will be broadcast locally on TV on WNDY and on the radio on WFNI and WHLK. The fourth preseason game is the one where the starters hardly play any, if at all. It's a glorified backup battle between a bunch of players trying to make a 53-man roster. That considered, here's what you need to know to get ready for tonight's game.
What's the Point of the Game?
Many of you might be wondering what the point of this game even is, and to the casual fan, there isn't much. To analysts, it's boring but a good look at the depth the team has for further analysis later on, if needed. To the players, it's a final chance to make an impression to earn a roster spot. And for the coaches, it's a way to see those bubble players one last time to try and ensure that the best 53 guys are retained once the final cuts come. Chuck Pagano was asked the very same question I posed, what the value of the fourth preseason game is, and he said on Monday that, "we're still evaluating a bunch of guys. Everybody understands and knows that following this last preseason game, 31 other teams, including ourselves, have to get down to a 53-man roster. So still a lot at stake for a lot of guys from an evaluation standpoint. It's another opportunity for us to go out and get better."
Will the Starters Play?
I don't know. Next question.
Ok, all kidding aside, that's the most accurate answer that I can give you. Chuck Pagano said Tuesday that, "some guys will get less than other guys and there might be a few cases where a guy won't play at all. So as far as that goes, that's kind of how we stand on the deal." Yeah, real helpful. Asked specifically about Andrew Luck (the starter most people care the most about), Pagano was just as vague and noncommittal: "Again, it's hard to tell right now. Try to see what the mindset is of what they're doing, of how they're going to approach this thing, and I kind of have an idea. So if he gets a series, that'd be great. If he gets nothing, that'd be great." He also mentioned that each player's status for the game is evaluated individually, with factors such as age and health coming into play especially in this game. Last season, Andrew Luck did indeed play in the fourth preseason game but he got just one drive and threw just one pass. Honestly, whether he plays or not, it won't be much at all. The same is true for a lot of the other starters as well.
Final Audition for a Roster Spot
Aside for the starters, really everybody is contending for a spot on the roster in this game. That's just the way it is. Sure, there are certainly more than a few backups who don't stand a chance of being cut, but the large majority of guys need this game. And that's where the value of this game comes from. Yeah, it might seem boring to many and it might be useless when evaluating how good a team will be this year, but for a lot of the younger guys who are fighting for a spot, it's huge. And so despite what some may say, this game actually is important to most of the players who are on the field. They're getting their chance - now they need to take advantage of it. As Robert Mathis said Tuesday on what he would say to those guys trying to make the roster, "Play every snap like it's your last. Don't take anything for granted. And make everything, put it on your resume."