The Indianapolis Colts will take on the St. Louis Rams in the third preseason game tonight, and it's the game in which the starter typically play the most of any preseason game. This is the biggest tune-up for the regular season, and so this is the game that we'll see the starters in the most and will start to get an idea of how good they will be.
Of course, teams are still being cautious with injured players, as the result still doesn't matter in this game. The Colts are one of those teams taking it easy with guys who have been hurt, and their inactive list for tonight's game lists several key players. Here's the list of those players who won't be playing tonight, followed by a few notes:
Phillip Dorsett, WR (knee)
Vick Ballard, RB
Greg Toler, CB (neck)
Deveron Carr, CB
Nate Irving, ILB (knee)
Donald Thomas, OL (quad)
Hugh Thornton, OL (knee)
Coby Fleener, TE (ankle)
Robert Mathis, OLB (Achilles)
- The one surprise on this list is that Vick Ballard is inactive. He returned to the field during training camp after recovering from back-to-back season-ending injuries (a torn ACL in 2013 and a torn Achilles in 2014) and then he played in a game for the first time since 2013 last week, rushing twice for four yards. That's all the Colts have to go off of. Ballard is running out of time to impress and earn a roster spot, as now there is only one game left in the preseason - and that's if he makes it past the first round of cuts on Tuesday. It seems very, very strange that the Colts wouldn't have Ballard going tonight if he's healthy (and all indications point to that being the case), and it might unfortunately mean that they've made up their mind and don't need to see any more than two carries from the back (I wouldn't base my decision off of just two carries, but maybe the Colts are different). The reality is that we just don't know, but the fact that he's inactive tonight is strange and, in my opinion, not a good sign for Ballard's future with the Colts. The Indianapolis Star's Stephen Holder even speculated that perhaps the Colts have already made up their mind and are not playing him so that he won't get hurt, which would result in the Colts being stuck paying him. Maybe that's the case and maybe it's not, but it's probably not a great sign for the back. UPDATE: According to both FOX59's Mike Chappell and Scout.com's Phillip B. Wilson, Ballard has a hamstring injury, one that he tweaked late in the week. He had previously tweaked a hamstring early in training camp that sidelined him for a week. So while that's the reason he's not playing tonight (and not that the Colts have already made up their mind about him), this fact remains: he's running out of time. And not playing tonight really hurts his case.
- Coby Fleener and Phillip Dorsett both missed practice this week with their injuries, but they don't seem to be too severe. It's best not to rush them back for a meaningless preseason game, though.
- Greg Toler was injured during last week's game and was initially day to day, but the Colts downgraded him to "week to week" this week - indicating that he might miss some time.
- Robert Mathis and Donald Thomas were both taken off of the PUP list this week, but neither are ready to play yet - which shouldn't surprise anyone.