The Colts host the New York Giants tonight in the home opener and their second preseason game overall, and there are plenty of things to be watching (especially considering that it's preseason and the rosters have 90 players). This is in no way an all-inclusive list, but here are five things to watch from the Colts tonight:
I expect the Colts to devote a bit more time to the running game tonight with the first team offense expected to play an entire quarter, and that means Trent Richardson. The Colts won't be abandoning the pass by any means, but Richardson will likely get more than his five carries last week. And after last week, I still don't know if we've seen anything to tell us definitively whether Richardson really is as improved as we hope. All eyes will be on him tonight, and it's also worth noting that it's the Colts first home game. It was clear from the fans in training camp that they're hopeful for Richardson, yet they also are getting impatient and are ok with letting that be heard. Will they express their frustration in a preseason game? Probably not, but it'd be best if Richardson had a good game in front of the home crowd. The fan aspect of it aside, however, we're all hoping to see improvement from Trent Richardson this year, and we'll definitely be watching him closely tonight.
There was a lot (and I mean A LOT) to like from the defense last week. Playing against mostly starters for much of the first half last week against the Jets, the Colts held them to just 91 yards in the first half. That's impressive. More than that, the Colts pass rush looked very encouraging and the linebackers really stepped up and impressed too. There was a lot to like last week - but was it just a good performance or is there really legitimate reason for optimism? We'll see tonight, as the Colts face Eli Manning and the Giants. Particularly, I'll be watching to see whether the Colts can continue to get good pressure and pass rush.
With Delano Howell missing practice this week with a neck injury and his status uncertain, it's likely that Mike Adams will get the start tonight at safety alongside LaRon Landry (who is making his 2014 debut), but if he does get the start, Adams will just be first in a rotation of safeties for the Colts. Expect Colt Anderson and Sergio Brown to also see significant time, as well as Howell if he does play. Though training camp is over, we still don't know who is going to start at safety, and hopefully tonight will give us a hint of who will start (and hopefully it'll be because that player played really well, not because the others played really bad...).
The Offensive Line!
Jonotthan Harrison, who last week played in his first ever NFL game, will make his first ever NFL start tonight at center, snapping the ball to one of the league's premier quarterbacks. It's all because center Khaled Holmes is out with an injury suffered last week, and while the hope and expectation is that Holmes will be back for week one, we will still be watching Harrison to see what he can do. Also, if Jack Mewhort plays (he too missed some practice time this week), then eyes will be on him as well, as he's going to be the Colts' starting left guard as a rookie. He looked alright last week, and hopefully we'll see improvement from him this week. Hugh Thornton, the team's starting right guard, looked better last week than he did last season, so hopefully we'll continue to see that from him. The offensive line is full of questions, and as such we'll be watching closely.
Andrew Luck, of course!
How could we make a list like this without including quarterback Andrew Luck? He looked terrific last week and the combination of him to T.Y. Hilton especially worked very well. The opening drive for the Colts offense last week was a success all around for Luck, Hilton, offensive coordinator Pep Hamilton, the offensive line (besides for the injury to Holmes), and others. It was very impressive. With the starters expected to get the first quarter, we'll get to see more from them tonight, and hopefully we'll be just as impressed as we were last week.
What are you excited to watch tonight from the Colts, whether it be a specific player or an entire unit?