Tonight the Indianapolis Colts play in their fourth and final preseason game, in Cincinnati against the Bengals. Of course, most of the starters won't be playing, but there's still plenty to watch. Here are five things to keep an eye on tonight:
1. The Interior Offensive Line
We know that most starters won't play tonight, but Chuck Pagano wouldn't specify who when he talked earlier in the week. He did say, however, of the young, interior offensive linemen that, "They've got to play. As much as you want to protect everybody, if you will, guys got to play. You consider the circumstances and the things that have transpired over the last week and a half and so forth, guys got to play." So, it sounds to me like the young offensive linemen - even the starters - will play if healthy. This especially applies to Jack Mewhort, the rookie who is starting at left guard. He certainly could use the extra work. It would also seem to indicate that Hugh Thornton might play, but at the same time he missed practice time this past week, and with the Colts' tendency to take it easy with injuries, I wouldn't be surprised if they held Thornton out. And then Jonotthan Harrison, who has been playing as the first team center, is technically the second team guy so he should play tonight too. We don't know how many starters will actually play, but it seems like one or two of the interior offensive linemen might, and if Chuck Pagano considers it important enough to get them playing time, then they're important enough to pay attention to.
2. Loucheiz Purifoy, Marcus Burley, or Both?
Cornerback Loucheiz Purifoy has had an impressive training camp and preseason. Cornerback Marcus Burley has had an impressive training camp and preseason. They both seem to be fighting for the number five cornerback spot, and they have one more game to really establish that battle. Of course, let's not minimize the real possibility that the Colts could keep six corners, in which case both Purifoy and Burley could make it. But regardless of whether the Colts keep five or six cornerbacks, both Loucheiz Purifoy and Marcus Burley should get significant time tonight and should be guys to keep an eye on.
3. Griff Whalen, Da'Rick Rogers, or Both?
Similar to the above, the battle between receivers Griff Whalen and Da'Rick Rogers is one that has received a lot of attention from Colts fans, and tonight both of them should see significant time. And, again, let's not ignore the fact that the Colts really might keep six receivers, but with both Whalen and Rogers figuring to factor into the offense a lot tonight and with the continual focus on the "battle" between the two of them (even potentially for a roster spot), both of them are absolutely players to keep an eye on tonight.
4. Boom Herron
One of the most impressive players for the Colts this preseason has been Daniel Herrom, but at the same time he hasn't seen as much time as many fans would like. Many fans have wanted him to get time with the first team, and while the starters won't be playing tonight, Herron will likely get a lot of opportunities. So far in the preseason, Herron has rushed for 104 yards on 18 carries (5.78 yards per carry) and caught 16 passes for 53 yards and a score (5.3 yards per catch). Of course, 43 of his 104 rush yards have come on one carry, but still - Boom Herron has fans hoping that he can take up a Donald Brown type role for the Colts this year. We should get a lot of opportunities to watch Herron tonight.
5. Zach Kerr
Another one of the most impressive Colts this preseason has been defensive lineman Zach Kerr. He leads all Colts defensive linemen with 10 tackles (6 solo), 1 sack, 3 tackles for loss, and a quarterback hit with several other pressures. His best game clearly came last week against the Saints, where he saw playing time some with the first team and then especially with the second team and he made 5 tackles (4 solo), a sack, 3 tackles for loss, and a quarterback hit. He has been very impressive so far, and tonight he should play a lot along the defensive line. He should be safe in terms of the roster, but it'll still be important to watch how he continues to play and improve.
What are you excited to watch tonight from the Colts, whether it be a specific player or an entire unit?