Let me start off by saying how thrilled I am that the pre-season is over and that we can all focus our attention on the regular season now. After the final cuts of course.
I'm not so sure that anyone deserves any awards after last night's game. I know the pre-season is ugly, but I don't think it's supposed to be that ugly. Nevertheless, I'll scrounge together some awards for the final game of the pre-season.
MVP - Duron Carter
One could make the point for Tyler Varga this week, but I'm giving the nod to Carter. The first three weeks of the pre-season a lot of us were wondering what happened to Carter. He barely played, and when he did, he didn't have much of an impact. Last night, he finally showed what we were expecting to see flashes of all pre-season.
Carter has a nice backshoulder grab on the sideline, and did a great job getting his feet inbounds. Then, he snared in a high pass from Bryan Bennett and proceeded to pick up a total of 42 yards on the play, weaving around defenders in the process. It's not like Carter was ever in danger of not making the roster, but last night showed why fans were so excited about him. I don't expect Carter to have a lot of playing time in the regular season (barring injuries) but he could certainly come along very soon if he continues to improve.
Bob Sanders Award - Clayton Geathers
Ok, this is really based off of one play. The fumble that Geathers caused instantly reminded me of the fumble Sanders caused in the Super Bowl against the Bears.
But really, Geathers was all over the place last night, and has performed well most of the pre-season. Against the Bengals, he tallied three solo tackles, two assists, forced a fumble, and recovered a fumble. Not a bad night at the office. We know that the front office is high on Geathers, and I think we're starting to see why. I don't want to ride the hype train too much after a Week 4 pre-season game. However, it wouldn't shock me if Geathers ends up starting by the time the end of the season rolls around.
Maybe I Was Wrong Award - Bryan Bennett
Alright. After the first pre-season game, I wrote that Bennett impressed me in both the passing and running game. I thought he could be a great practice squad player that the Colts could mold into a mini-Andrew Luck (at least for the sake of keeping the playbook roughly the same). The kid could run and throw.
Well, I might have been wrong about that. While he impressed me against the Eagles, Bennett seemed to decline every game thereafter. Last night he was especially bad. While 15-25 passing isn't awful, the 170 yards aren't great, and the four turnovers were abysmal. Some of those interceptions were completely on Bennett too, just bad throws.
That all being said, I think the Colts will keep Bennett as a practice squad player, and I think that's a good choice.
Full Stable Award - Colts Running Backs
This is the position that will make the upcoming cuts very interesting. Frank Gore and Boom Herron are going to make the team, we know this much. After them, though, I really don't know.
Vick Ballard, Josh Robinson, Varga, and Zurlon Tipton are all fighting for one, maybe two, roster spots; depending on how many backs the Colts keep. I think that the Colts keep four players and it'll be Gore, Herron, Varga, and Robinson. Unfortunately, I can't see Tipton or Ballard making the team. Tipton has been terrible this pre-season, and Ballard just can't stay healthy. I really think Ballard is one of the most talented backs on the team, but he can't stay healthy. I'd love for the Colts to keep him, but I doubt they will.
Bad News Award - Chuck Pagano and Ryan Grigson
The big story out of Indianapolis this week were reports of a growing disconnect between Pagano and Grigson, specifically in regards to personnel control. As with any reports like these, not everything we hear is going to be true. However, more often than not, there are some components that are true.
As both Bob Kravitz, who wrote the initial piece about this earlier in the week, and our own Josh Wilson noted, disagreements like this are not uncommon in the NFL. Coaches obviously want more control over personnel because they're the ones working with players, and General Managers obviously want control because, well it's their job.
For a great insight on disagreements within a front office, read Bill Polian's book. There are a couple of instances where there are disagreements within the front office that he is a part of. Most of the time they happen, and that's that. I'm guessing (hoping) that this "rift" between Pagano and Grigson is nothing more than that.
LVP - Injuries
I did it last week, and I'm doing it again. Injuries have been a huge issue all pre-season, and a couple of Colts were hit by the injury bug again last night. This time we saw a handful of fringe players get hurt, but more importantly we saw Herron and Ballard leave early.
Ballard's injury will, quite frankly, probably cost him a roster spot, which sucks. Herron's injury is a bit more concerning to me, simply because his shoulder was a minor problem late last season as well. We never like to see injuries, to star players or otherwise. At this time of year, though, injuries can cost young hopeful players their job, and possibly their fledgling career. It's a part of the game, I know, but I think we could see the beginning of a stronger push to reduce the pre-season. I know. I said that last week too.
All in all, we should be thrilled, though. Football is back in full swing. College football has started and there are some great opening games this weekend. The NFL officially starts this coming Thursday, and I'm sure everyone will be pumped up (sorry I had to) to watch the first game. Football is here again, and we only have to wait one more week to see the Colts in action.