The Indianapolis Colts on Saturday returned to Lucas Oil Stadium for their home preseason debut. They ultimately lost 19-18 to the Baltimore Ravens in the fourth quarter of a game that wound up being pretty exciting, but the biggest story from the game was the return of Andrew Luck.
While it's just preseason, there's still plenty to learn from the games. A part of that includes how much certain guys are actually getting to play, and that's why the snap counts can be so valuable - especially in the preseason. So let's take a look at the snap counts for the Colts from Saturday's game, followed by some notes.
|Mitchel Van Dyk||T||22||29%|
- For the second straight week, rookie center Austin Blythe saw the most snaps (48) of any offensive player for the Colts. That's very valuable experience for the team's seventh round pick, giving him plenty of playing time to adjust to the NFL level and prove himself as a guy worth keeping around. Fellow rookie lineman Le'Raven Clark also played a significant amount (35 snaps), while Joe Haeg saw only seven snaps before leaving with an ankle injury.
- Right guard Denzelle Good saw the most snaps of any offensive starter (29), while center Ryan Kelly (28) was right behind him. The two of them also led the starters in snaps a week ago, and it makes perfect sense as they're the young linemen who could use more snaps. Many of the other starters also played a significant amount more than they did a week ago, with Donte Moncrief, Phillip Dorsett, Joe Reitz, Jack Mewhort, Andrew Luck, Dwayne Allen, and Anthony Castonzo all playing at least 20 snaps as well.
- Tight end Erik Swoope saw more than twice the amount of snaps than any other tight end, and he did a good job making an impression with those plays as he caught three passes for 36 yards. He's competing for the third tight end spot and seems to be the clear frontrunner, and Saturday night was another indication of that as well. From playing by far the most snaps of any player at the position to the production he put up while doing so, Swoope helped make his case to win the spot.
- Another depth position up for grabs is at wide receiver, and there shouldn't be any surprise how the snaps were distributed to the guys competing for the spots. Chester Rogers led the way with 45 snaps, while Tevaun Smith wasn't far behind with 42 snaps. Quan Bray (28) was third, while MeKale McKay (26) followed that up (though Donte Moncrief played 27 snaps and Phillip Dorsett played 26, they're not competing for the depth spots). Right now, it seems pretty clear that Rogers and Smith are the frontrunners to win the spot, though Bray's kick return ability gives him a very real shot as well. McKay then has an outside shot, while others (Josh Stangby and Danny Anthrop) seem to have no shot.
- At running back, Josh Ferguson once again led the way with 27 snaps, but it was relegated to mostly second-team duty this week after playing with the first-team a week ago. Jordan Todman (19), Robert Turbin (17), Trey Williams (12), and Frank Gore (3) then followed after. Though Ferguson hasn't had the most impressive preseason, the snap counts continue to indicate that the Colts are giving him plenty of chances to impress. As for Gore, he played just three snaps, but that was enough - he had one carry for five yards and also had a very nice blitz pickup. For the veteran starter, that's all the work he needs in the preseason, so it'll be interesting to see how much (or if) he plays in the third game.
- Three guys actually played less snaps than Frank Gore: guard Donovan Williams, tight end Konrad Reuland, and wide receiver Danny Anthrop. Williams wound up being waived on Sunday, and it's likely that the other two won't be far behind once cuts roll around. If you're a depth guy fighting for a spot and hardly get any snaps in a preseason game, your chances probably aren't very good whatsoever.
- Fourth round pick Antonio Morrison (40) received the most snaps of any Colts defender on Saturday, followed by Josh McNary (37). Both players are looking to win a backup inside linebacker spot, and both did a nice job against the Ravens. Morrison and McNary tied for the team lead with seven tackles each, while Morrison had a tackle for loss.
- The most snaps played by a "starter" on Saturday was by safety T.J. Green (27), though he's not really the starting safety except for the fact that Clayton Geathers is injured. Regardless, Green really needs as many snaps as the Colts can give him. He was fine once again, but last week only played 26% of the snaps - he absolutely needs more than that, which is why it was nice to see him get more playing time this week (43% of the snaps). The best thing the Colts can do for Green right now is to give him a lot of snaps, so the second preseason game was an improvement. After Green, the most snaps a starter played was also an injury replacement (Nate Irving with 26), though Irving is competing for a starting spot outright.
- With Vontae Davis and Darius Butler not dressing and Patrick Robinson leaving early with an injury, it provided plenty of opportunity for younger cornerbacks to see some playing time. Darius White, Frankie Williams, and Tay Glover-Wright all played quite a bit, which was valuable experience for them. Surprisingly, Tevin Mitchel played just seven snaps, which leads to a question of whether he's still working his way back from injury. He missed the first preseason game due to the injury, and in camp was running with the second-team when healthy. For him to only play seven snaps on Saturday night is surprising, meaning he's probably being brought back slowly. D'Joun Smith (15 snaps) is probably in a similar situation, as he's probably being brought back slowly - because he could use a lot more snaps than he's received.
- Art Jones also made his preseason debut on Saturday night, playing in ten snaps. He's being brought back slowly as he recovers from injury as well, but he has just two more games to make an impression before being placed on the suspended list for the first four games of the regular season - so this is a critical time for him.
- The most surprising thing from the entire game when it comes to snap counts for the Colts was the fact that Edwin Jackson played just 12 snaps. The Colts are very high on him and he's got a very good chance at winning one of the backup inside linebacker spots, so to see him play only 19% of the snaps is very curious. I don't have an answer for why he played so little, but it's worth noting for sure.
(Note: This is not the complete list; rather, this is a list of only those players who saw 30% or more of the special teams snaps on Saturday night).
- For the second straight week, Trevor Bates played the most special teams snaps of anyone. For the team's seventh round rookie, it's important experience - if he can impress on special teams, that will go a long way toward helping him win a roster spot. The Colts need pass rush help desperately, and so a guy like Bates who has impressed in that area but can also play special teams will really help his chances.