It's almost here.
In one day, the Indianapolis Colts will kick off their 2012 season, hosting the St. Louis Rams in the first preseason game of the Andrew Luck era.
While all eyes will be on the rookie quarterback's debut, us nerds here at Stampede Blue will have our eyes on different players trying to make the roster.
I will have my eyes on several players, along with the entire running back position. The unit is a big question mark heading into the preseason, as the depth chart is anything but decided.
Donald Brown entered camp as the number one back (and deservedly so), but is not guaranteed of anything. He will start tomorrow's game, but his job is not safe. In fact, the next two backs behind Brown on the depth chart have reportedly been having a really impressive camp. I have heard next to nothing about Brown out of camp.
So, on Tuesday, when I went down to Anderson for practice, I had my eyes especially set on Donald Brown. I was interested in seeing why he has not been talked about much. I found out the reason why we haven't heard anything about him - it's that there is nothing to report. Brown did nothing spectacular at all (granted, they didn't run much as they were not in full pads). And even though it was not full pads, he didn't look to be running that hard. I saw a lot of standing around from Donald Brown. Sure, the other backs were too, but at least other guys looked interested in learning. Brown at times looked like he was just happy to be there. I know that I am judging this based on only one practice that was in shells (helmet and shoulder pads only), but I wasn't too impressed. For a guy who is in no way guaranteed of a starting job (or even playing time), Brown didn't seem to be too concerned. Which normally isn't a good sign.
Again, this is one guy's opinion of only one practice, but Brown didn't do much at all. Though the Colts did not run much at all that practice (which is odd for a team that wants to run so much), some of the other backs impressed me.
The former Pittsburgh Steeler was listed as the second team running back on the first depth chart, and Brad Wells thinks he could be starting week one. I'm starting to agree with him. I was impressed with Moore on Tuesday night. Part of it may have been that it was primarily a passing practice, and he is the best receiving back on the Colts' roster. He made a few nice catches Tuesday night, but did have a pass bounce off of his hands and into the air (it fell harmlessly to the ground). Offensive coordinator Bruce Arians (who was in Pittsburgh with Moore) loves the back, which isn't to be overlooked either. I agree with Brad - Mewelde Moore could really be starting in Chicago week one. I know he was not brought in to start, but he may end up starting anyways. I have heard good things about him out of Anderson.
The rookie running back has reportedly impressed coaches early on, and he impressed me Tuesday night, though not for anything he did on the field. As I already mentioned, the Colts didn't run the ball much at all (which is strange for a team that wants to run the ball a lot), and Ballard really didn't get many carries (then again, no one did). But when he did, I was impressed. He seemed to run in good position to the ground, carried the ball well, was tough and ran hard. Gave good effort. I think Ballard could see quite a bit of playing time this season. I have also heard good things about Ballard out of camp.
That obviously brings up the question of Delone Carter. What about him? After all, I was the one saying that I thought Carter would be starting by season's end. He is currently listed fourth on the depth chart, behind Brown, Moore and Ballard. I still think that Carter has great potential, but obviously he has not made the same impression on the coaching staff. I will be interested to see why.
The running back position is a big question mark for the Colts right now. Their main contributors are a former first round draft pick that can't outrun the "bust" label, a career role playing and third down back, a guy who's rookie season was derailed by fumbles, and a rookie fifth round draft pick. Those are the four guys who are going to be accounting for most of the Colts' run game production in 2012.
I am not counting Donald Brown out of it yet. Some guys are just not practice players, but if Brown cannot produce in real games this preseason, he will not be starting week one. And, based on what I have been hearing out of camp, Mewelde Moore and Vick Ballard are impressing. I have a hard time seeing Ballard starting week one, but he's not out of the race. Moore, while not brought in to start, could very well be doing so early on. And Delone Carter, although fourth string, has potential and needs to take advantage of playing time in the preseason.
So of all the players to watch Sunday, let me advise you to also pay attention to the running backs. The position is very undecided and a big question mark. Maybe, just maybe, we will get some answers tomorrow.