In the preseason opener, the Colts lost to the New York Jets on the road, 13-10. But, as we know, preseason losses don't really matter. The only way to really lose a preseason game is by having injuries. And the Colts lost in that way too.
Starting center Khaled Holmes, who was playing very well early on, went down on the first drive with a left ankle injury, and it initially didn't look good. We'll let you know more when we hear it, but we just have to hope it's not bad right now, because the depth is just terrible behind him (we'll get to that in a minute). Also, lineman Ulrick John was injured tonight with a right ankle injury, and defensive lineman Jeris Pendleton went down with a right knee injury. And then outside linebacker Daniel Adongo was injured tonight too, though we didn't really see when. He has a bicep injury, and some of those at the game saw him leaving in a sling.
<blockquote class="twitter-tweet" lang="en"><p>Adongo left arm in a sling... Bicep injury <a href="http://t.co/LkwOPL1jG7">pic.twitter.com/LkwOPL1jG7</a></p>— Amanda Maynard (@AmandaMaynard8) <a href="https://twitter.com/AmandaMaynard8/statuses/497562974966808578">August 8, 2014</a></blockquote>
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Apart from the injuries, however, tonight was actually a night full of many, many positives for the Colts. Let's look at the initial things that I noticed in out game notes:
- The starting offense looked really good. I loved the play-calling from Pep Hamilton, opening up in the shotgun and passing the ball. Khaled Holmes and Jack Mewhort both looked good and impressive in their work tonight. The underneath crossing route to T.Y. Hilton will be a great one all year. Andrew Luck is pretty good. And...
- Trent Richardson. Those who look at the box score only will see 5 carries for 13 yards, which isn't anything impressive. And there's certainly room to improve, but Richardson made a couple of nice runs tonight. On that first drive, he did exactly what he needs to do on several of the runs - he doesn't have to be a superstar, but as long as he can lower his head and get 4 yards on a run up the middle, it'll help out the offense a ton.
- Another running back, Dan Herron, was the star of the night offensively for the Colts and was easily the offensive MVP. Easily. He saw 7 carries and 6 catches, meaning he was involved often and the Colts offense all ran through him when the second team was in. He also scored the Colts lone touchdown of the night, when he ran a route out in the flat on 3rd-and-2 and Matt Hasselbeck (looking for him all the way) hit him with the short pass. Herron did the rest, including a nice dive into the end zone for a score. Herron looked great tonight.
- Zurlon Tipton, the third running back tonight, had no chance. I like Tipton a lot, but he stood no chance behind that third team offensive line tonight. I hope to see him get more time with the second team in next week's game so we can see more from him.
- Speaking of having no chance... Chandler Harnish. I feel for the guy. He's playing behind the third team offensive line and with the other third team players too. Harnish really doesn't have an opportunity to do anything, and that's gotta be frustrating.
- Delano Howell saw a lot of work tonight. Like, a lot. He started the game and was still in there in the mid/late third quarter. He did a solid job, but he needs to get better - and a lot of playing time will certainly help him do that.
- The pass rush for the Colts looked great tonight. Great. Bjoern Werner, who has been perhaps the star of camp so far, did a tremendous job rushing the passer and had several very nice pressures, and then rookie Jonathan Newsome, who has also impressed in camp, impressed again tonight with some nice plays - including a heck of a spin move to force a pressure. Cam Johnson also got in on the pass rush action a bit, which was good to see as well. A lot to like from the pass rush tonight, playing without Robert Mathis (and for a while at least playing against the Jets first team offensive line).
- The defensive MVP of the night, though, was the guy who was all over the field making plays - inside linebacker Henoc Muamba. He's a guy I really liked entering camp and tonight he showed that. With not much depth at the position Muamba was forced to play a lot, and he took advantage of it. He racked up 12 tackles (10 solo). He was moving around going all over the field making tackles and not missing many plays he should have made. It was a very good night from someone who I think could be an underrated guy for the Colts.
- The replacement for Khaled Holmes, Jonotthan Harrison, had a rough night tonight. On the first drive, he snapped a ball over Andrew Luck's head before the quarterback was ready, costing the Colts yards and a shot at a touchdown - they had to settle for a field goal. Then later in the game, he also had a snap that went over the quarterback's head. This was the big problem with going with Holmes at center - the lack of depth. And the thing is, Harrison is the team's second best center. It's not like they've got a lot of other options. Right now, we just have to hope Holmes' injury isn't serious.
- Andy Studebaker also had a very nice night. He made several tackles and plays, and he helped his chances a lot. He is a good special teams player and is worth keeping around in that aspect, but showing that he can help defensively too should greatly help his chances. Keep an eye on him in preseason, but tonight he was good.
- Qua Cox and Dewey McDonald finally showed something! In camp they haven't done much at all, but tonight they both made a couple of nice plays. Of course, the one time I mentioned a nice play by Cox on twitter, the very next play he had a terrible one in coverage. Oh well, so there's that too...
- Phillip Hunt and Jonathon Sharpe, two linebackers recently signed by the Colts, both saw significant playing time due to the limited linebackers and both of them made some plays.
- The Jets had a 3rd-and-42 at one point. HA.
- Adam Vinatieri drilled a 39-yard field goal and a 33-yard extra point, but he missed a 29-yard field goal wide right just before halftime after a very nice two-minute drive by Matt Hasselbeck. But good ol' Vinatieri, he knew what he was doing - if he had made that one, there might have been a real chance the game would have gone to overtime. So thanks from all of us, Vinny - we'll give you a pass for that one.
- Pat McAfee punted tremendously well tonight. Looks like the Boomstick is in midseason form.
We'll have much more analysis in the next few days from this game, especially once I go back and watch the tape again (yes, I'm going to watch this preseason game again...). For now though, a lot of positives from the night to be encouraged from, apart from the injuries. What did you think of the game tonight?