FanPost

Players to Watch: Colts v. Falcons

Offensive Line:

1)  Tony Ugoh - After a poor performance against the Panthers, some have started to doubt Ugoh's ability to effectively protect against the pass rush.  Julius Peppers, at a time in his career, was about as dangerous as any pass rusher in the league.  However, to see Peppers give Ugoh fits in the way he did last week was disconcerting.  Considering the Colts have spent much of this week focusing on developing the offensive line's ability to protect against the pass rush and given that this week is the first week the Colts have actually prepared for an opponent this year, it will be interesting to see how the offensive line does in pass protection.  Add to this Ugoh's minor "knee-bruise" injury that had many of us concerned and there is good reason to see just how effective Ugoh is this week.

2)  Mike Pollak - To this point, it seems the Colts are completely comfortable with Charlie Johnson as the starting RG.  Unfortunately, Johnson has value potentially as a back-up at RT, though his performances have been inconsistent.  With injury problems at LB, what some feel is a lack of depth at DT, and the potential of needing to carry 3 QBs into the season... every roster spot is precious.  If Pollak proves himself against the Falcons, and moving forward, he can win the starting spot and potentially eliminate the need for an additional offensive lineman on the roster... allowing Johnson to back-up at RG and RT.  The likelihood of storing an offensive lineman on the practice squad who we can bring up later in the year after our injured players can return is greater than storing a quality RB (Chad Simpson), LB (Kyle Shotwell/Jordan Senn), S (Jamie Silva) or CB (Keiwan Ratliff) safe from offers from other teams.

3)  Dan Federkeil/Micael Toudouze - It is likely that only one of these offensive linemen will make the final roster.  Some have seen real potential in Federkeil while few of us can forget the job Toudouze did against Shawn Merriman in San Diego last year.  Finding the best back-up will have to happen in the next three pre-season games.

Back-Up Quarterback:

Jared Lorenzen/Quinn Gray - Staying on the offensive side of the ball, last week I felt like Lorenzen had the most promising performance of any QB in training camp in recent memory in terms of pocket presence/comfort, good field vision locating open receivers, and the most promise of offering this team a legitimate back-up at QB should the services of a back-up be required during the season or afterward.  Gray showed promise in the HoF game but, as I've discussed before, his weaknesses are worrisome considering they are primarily related to comfort in the pocket and decision making when he is given good protection and plenty of time.  Unless the Colts offensive line underperforms on a level none of us could begin to foresee, it is likely that no matter who is the QB, much of the time there will be a reasonably protected pocket, allowing time to make decisions.  In terms of Sorgi, it would take a pretty spectacular performance for Sorgi to re-enter consideration of viability as a back-up QB in the NFL, let alone win the support of fans as the official back-up to Manning.

Wide Receivers:

1) Pierre Garcon - Garcon showed impressive abliity in the HoF game and has done so throughout camp.  This will be a chance for Garcon to build on what he has shown Colts fans in just his second game against NFL competition.  With the talent displayed by the receivers on the Colts roster during camp and in the pre-season, building on his performance in the HoF game is definitely important as there are tough decisions ahead for Colts coaches at the WR position.

2) Roy Hall - I don't know his status but the last three pre-season games are important for Hall to solidify his hold on one of the back-up WR spots.  Hopefully he'll be able to start that work against the Falcons.

3)  Devin Aromashodu - Because Aromashodu does not bring the special teams value that Hall/Garcon do, it may be the most important that Aromashodu display his value in this game and throughout the remainder of the pre-season.  Why?

4)  Onrea Jones - Jones has been impressive in his first two outings with the Colts, displaying excellent hands and fluid movement after catching the ball.  If he can continue to impress against the Falcons he can make it that much more difficult for coaches to not give him a spot on the roster.  With Hall/Aromashodu as his likely competition (Garcon's returning ability may make him a bit more immune to competition) Jones needs to show something special throughout the remainder of the preseason.

Defensive Tackle:

1) Eric Foster - While some fans seem enthralled by Foster's performance or at least his potential, others (like me) are not sold on Foster based solely on his performance in his first two games.  Here's the reality, the biggest legitimate concern about our depth at DT starts and ends at run defense.  With Pitcock, last year, we had someone we felt could back-up Ed Johnson and be effective against the run.  This year, who takes that spot is not certain.  What is certain is that our defensive line is loaded with guys who are suited to be effective getting pressure on opposing QBs.  With Brock likely to move back inside because of the depth we're now finding at DE with Curtis Johnson and Marcus Howard, we have Brock, Dawson, potentially Foster and Darrell Reid as pass rushing DT specialists.  Ed Johnson is the sole option at DT with promise defending against the run.  If Foster wants to stick, he needs to show real value, and may even need to take Dawson's roster spot.  We'll see, but it is extremely important Foster start showing the effectiveness fans and coaches speculate he brings to the table.

2) Joe Bradley - Bradley and Collin Ferrell are the only DTs on the roster who are in the run defending DT mold.  Fans have to hope that one of them will show the kind of talent necessary to make the roster and potentially replace Pitcock in our rotation.  Bradley has shown good instincts against the run more than once in the first two games, he needs to continue to do so and make his performance really standout if he hopes to steal a spot away from Dawson or the more popular Foster.

Defensive End:

1) Marcus Howard - A good effort by the Carolina offensive line last week gave Howard fits and rendered him ineffective, for the most part, in his attempts to put pressure on Carolina QBs.  It would be good to see him return to the form we saw in the HoF game.  He's a shoe-in to make the roster... but it would give fans and coaches a reason to feel justified in our confidence this season at DE.

2) Curtis Johnson - Johnson's effort in the HoF game got my attention even more than Howard's.  The reason is that Johnson was not only effective getting pressure on Washington QBs, he showed me an ability to always be around the ball, making plays everywhere on the field.  That kind of hustle and effort is what we expect out of DEs and reminded me of how often Mathis and Freeney will be found making plays everywhere, to this day surprising us that they would make the stop on a given play.  With at least Charleston and Thomas making their own cases for a roster spot... Johnson needs to build on his performance against Washington.

Linebacker:

1) Kyle Shotwell - Shotwell has shown a real nose for the football in the first two preseason games.  Some have seen it and some have not.  For those who have, his performance is exciting for the potential of our ability to stop the run (as his plays to this point have been stopping the run).  If Shotwell can continue to display his speed, nose for the ball and ability to shed blocks to make plays he can make a real case for a spot on the roster.  Showing ST value, of course, along with making a play defending against the pass would both be strong steps in that direction.

2) Jordan Senn - Senn has also been impressive and has played similarly to Shotwell.  In the HoF game Senn stopped plays all over the field, doubling the tackle total of any other defender with the Colts.  He was also active against Carolina, some say he made a great ST play though I did not see it myself.  He will need to continue performing if he wants to make the final roster.

3) Ramon Guzman - Despite support from some fans in these forums, and most likely from the coaching staff, for his speed and hard hitting... to this point I've not been impressed at all.  Watching the tape most of Guzman's plays were more a result of "being in the right place at the right time" than of his individual effort.  I know he's pretty fast, and I know he can hit hard, that's nice... but I want someone who can make plays.  And honestly, both Shotwell and Senn have done a better job of that in the first two games.  By the way, it might be worth noting, Shotwell is probably faster than Guzman.  Guzman's 40 yard time for scouts?  4.87.  Shotwell's?  4.54.

Cornerback:

1) Tim Jennings - Jennings, like Guzman, seems to awe fans and win over coaches by showing raw physical talent, in his case blazing speed.  Yet, when given the opportunity to perform in games during the regular season, Jennings has not only failed to impress... at times he's played so wrecklessly that he was responsible for giving up plays yielding opponents long gains or even resulting in touchdowns.  Jennings spent two years injured to start his NFL career but, to be fair, has only one year of experience actually playing.  This pre-season Jennings has legitimate competition for his roster spot, in my opinion he needs to show the "second-year" development Dungy often discusses.  If not, I'm an advocate of moving on to give someone I believe will be effective when called upon a chance and not allow blazing speed to haze our judgment any longer.  I hope he proves himself and in doing so, proves my assessment of his ability completely wrong.

2) Keiwan Ratliff - Ratliff did a great job in coverage, not just by getting an impressive interception against Carolina, but in staying tight in coverage, keeping WRs from breaking free to make big plays.  Building on that will make others more comfortable should he take Jennings spot on the roster.

3) Brandon Foster - Foster is very similar to Jennings in that he's known for his speed and tight coverage ability matched up man-on-man when necessary.  He has seen limited playing time in the first two games but when he did get on the field he showed an ability to stick tight in coverage and made an impressive play on the ball, which unfortunately resulted in a bogus passing interference call.  Either way, I would really like the opportunity to see Foster get more exensive time.

Safety:

Jamie Silva - Silva has started to show fans what his coaches and former fans at BC raved about.  An ability to make plays, a gamer awareness, and value to his team.  Silva has tough competition in Condren, who has been impressive in the first two pre-season games (although some think he'll get cut) and Melvin Bullitt, who has been injured much of camp.  Silva will need to continue making an impact and making it often if he hopes to unseat either player for a spot on the roster.  Special teams value is a really good place to start.

This is a FanPost and does not necessarily reflect the views of Stampede Blue's writers or editors. It does reflect the views of this particular fan though, which is as important as the views of Stampede Blue's writers or editors.