You all know that the Indianapolis Colts are facing the New York Giants tonight at Lucas Oil Stadium in their second preseason game (though the third for the Giants). What you might not know is that a former Colts starting quarterback is returning to Indianapolis to play as a member of the Giants - Curtis Painter.
Painter, a product of Purdue University, spent three seasons in Indianapolis, though he's not remembered favorably by Colts fans. It all began in his rookie season in 2009, when starter Peyton Manning was in the midst of one of his finest seasons ever en route to a 14-0 start and yet another league MVP award. Many Colts fans wanted Manning and the starters to play it out and earn a perfect regular season record, which was absolutely attainable. Instead, in keeping with past decisions, Bill Polian (and Jim Caldwell, I guess) decided to rest the starters. Meaning that the rookie Curtis Painter was going to see extensive time at quarterback in the last two weeks, tasked with completing an undefeated season. Needless to say, the Colts finished the season with two straight losses, making them 14-0 on the year. In two games, Painter completed just 8 passes on 28 attempts (28.6%) for 83 yards and 2 picks, was sacked 3 times, and fumbled the ball away twice.
Painter didn't play at all in 2010, as the Colts needed to play it out down the stretch to make the playoffs (which they did after another great season from Manning), but then the worst disaster possible for the Colts happened - Peyton Manning missed a game. As a desperate measure, the Colts signed veteran Kerry Collins, but as one missed game from Peyton turned into two and two turned into sixteen, the Colts abandoned Collins in week three and turned to the third-year Painter. Playing in 9 games and starting 8 of them, he completed 132 of 243 passes (54.3%) for 1,541 yards, 6 touchdowns, and 9 picks, while being sacked 16 times and fumbling 5 times (losing 3). In all 9 games he played, the Colts lost, and they finished the season 2-14 overall.
That offseason the Colts released Peyton Manning, and they also parted ways with Curtis Painter. He didn't play anywhere in 2012 but made the team with the New York Giants in 2013 - backing up Peyton Manning's younger brother, Eli Manning. Painter played in 3 games last year, completing 8 of 16 passes (50.0%) for 57 yards and 2 picks. He was also sacked once and fumbled twice, though not losing either of them.
This preseason, Painter has been impressive, completing 10 of 10 passes for 94 yards and a touchdown, which came with 2:50 left in last week's game to beat the Pittsburgh Steelers. This week, Giants coach Tom Coughlin confirmed that Painter has passed Ryan Nassib on the depth chart and will play with the second team tonight against the Colts.
Painter's play on the field may not have been very good at all while with the Colts, but he's actually remembered somewhat fondly around Indianapolis as the quarterback who brought Andrew Luck to town. He's the one who bridged the small gap between the Peyton Manning era and the Andrew Luck era, and tonight Painter returns to Lucas Oil Stadium for the first time since that 2011 season.
Welcome back to Indianapolis, Curtis Painter. This time, we'll actually be cheering for those interceptions.
Other Notable Players Facing their Former Team:
- Colts wide receiver Hakeem Nicks played with the Giants for five seasons, catching 311 passes for 4,662 yards and 27 touchdowns, averaging 14.9 yards per catch. He had two 1,000+ seasons while with the Giants and won a Super Bowl. He signed with Colts this offseason.
- Colts running back Ahmad Bradshaw (who's status is still unknown for tonight's game) played with the Giants for six seasons, rushing 921 times for 4,232 yards and 32 touchdowns, averaging 4.6 yards per carry. He was a significant part of two Super Bowl championships with the Giants and recorded two 1,000+ yard rushing seasons in New York. In his first season with the Colts last year, Bradshaw showed himself to be the Colts' best back in the three games he played, rushing 41 times for 186 yards and 2 touchdowns, averaging 4.5 yards per carry. He helped lead the way in the road win over the 49ers, but in that game he also suffered a neck injury that led to him missing the remainder of the season.
- Giants safety Stevie Brown played in 8 games for the Colts in 2011, making 5 tackles. He played in all 16 games with the Giants in 2012, starting 11, and notched 76 tackles, 11 passes defensed, 8 interceptions, and 2 forced fumbles. Unfortunately, after that very good season in 2012, he tore his ACL in last year's preseason and missed the entire season.