Saturday night we finally saw the Indianapolis Colts put a solid product on the field this preseason. The offense moved the ball, the defense forced turnovers and the team came out with an energy that we’d yet to see up to this point.
There is certainly no lack of room for some individuals to improve their game, but we also witnessed a handful show that they have the ability needed to be a contributor on this roster. In large part, a couple of those who showed out well truly needed to showcase their skills in a big spot.
Here are a group of those who improved their stock Saturday night.
Hunt had a pretty impressive game Saturday despite only showing up in the box score for a single tackle. That one tackle was a stop in the backfield, and he otherwise showed the ability to split the offensive line a handful of additional times, disrupting the quarterback and the path of the running backs.
Hunt has been great at disrupting passing lanes as well, knocking a couple balls down and even blocking a kick against Dallas last week. Hunt appears to be in his comfort zone as far as how he’s being used in the Colts’ scheme and is moving toward being an effective depth piece along the defensive line.
For as unimpressive as he looked previous to Saturday night, Tolzien put a nice performance together against the Steelers. He did have one really bad interception, but was otherwise largely accurate and pushed the ball downfield more than he had previously. Tolzien very easily could have lost the starting job with another meek showing, but he likely reinforced the coaching staff’s trust in him.
Like Tolzien, Morris did everything he could to show the coaching staff that he can be trusted to be the guy in Andrew Luck’s absence. Morris continued to convert on third down situations, was accurate in the face of pressure and even with a nice line (12/16, 143 yards) to show off, there were a couple drops from the receivers and maybe a simple timing issue on the throw to Jack Doyle in the end zone.
Morris was on the money throughout, and also proved that his ability to extend plays is a perfect fit for the Colts offense. His calm and cool demeanor is something the staff are going to have to include in their evaluation of the quarterback position in addition to his ability to his accuracy downfield and ability to get the ball to the receivers on time. Morris simply reinforced the fan’s trust in him and made a major argument for the starting role.
For a guy who was largely expected to be a practice squad candidate early in the offseason, Hairston put a big game on his resume Saturday night. He racked up 6 solo tackles with one being a tackle for loss, his footwork in pursuit was very precise and didn’t get himself out of position to make a hit and his coverage was very good as well.
Hairston has worked a lot on the outside through camp and in the preseason, but with Darryl Morris on IR now he may be making a case to be the starting nickel corner. If he continues to improve and develop on the path he is currently forging we should expect to see him a lot in the regular season and would offer great value considering his draft slot.
Despite what any of us felt about Morrison last season, he’s been very good through camp and into the preseason. He’s already probably locked in the starting spot, but he continues to improve considerably in coverage and his ability to diagnose quickly and react accordingly. He’s making plays in the backfield and laying the wood early and often.
Morrison notched a tackle for loss and 4 of his 6 tackles were solo shots Saturday night. Like I said, he’s not in any sort of risk of being surpassed on the depth chart and has been a bright spot at the position thus far, but he is absolutely improving every time he steps on the field and is on the right track to becoming a very good all-around linebacker.
Simon isn’t in any camp battle or struggling to get noticed by any means, but he is balling out right now. He’s been involved in at least 3 of the Colts forced turnovers thus far in the preseason and thus far has been the guy who is always in the right spot at the right time. He was initially looked at as a run stopper, and not much of a playmaker, but I think it’s safe to say that he’s changing that mindset as the season approaches.
Farley does find himself in a position battle right now. He has a very good shot at making the roster and is loved by the Colts brass. But, he’s also been one of those guys continually getting himself into the right situations. He’s been excellent at jarring the ball loose in turnovers, balls yet to be hauled in by the receiver and is improving in downfield coverage as well.
Farley even found a way to get a sack Saturday night and got another QB hit to boot. Farley looks to be reveling in the enforcer role and we all know the Colts could surely use one in the secondary.
Sankey was literally just signed the other day. Initially he, like anyone else who has had only a couple practices under their belt, looked lost and a little frenetic. But, as the game wore on Sankey was involved in a ton of tackles in limited time. Sean Spence is out, maybe even for good, Edwin Jackson is has been on the shelf for the week and Luke Rhodes hasn’t done anything to pop off the screen so the door is seemingly wide open for a roster spot.
Sankey quickly settled down and showed great instincts, perfect form tackling and the ability to cover a lot of space. Sankey led the team in tackles with 10, and tallied 9 of those on his own. Keep an eye out for him in the Colts final preseason game on Thursday.
Dorsett, this summer, had yet to show that he could be relied upon to run solid routes consistently or pull in contested balls. He showed plenty of that Saturday night. Dorsett was sure handed, beat defenders to the ball in heavy coverage and showed that he has the potential to be trusted in various situations.
Dorsett needed Saturday night quite a bit. Chester Rogers, who all but had the No. 3 receiver spot locked up, hasn’t been seen in three weeks since having a hamstring issue pop up. Kamar Aiken has been solid, but the Colts offense truly needs a precise, speedy and trustworthy receiver to complement T.Y. Hilton and Donte Moncrief going into the season and he Dorsett made a strong case for himself at the perfect time.
Milton has kind of been on the cusp of making this roster for the duration of the offseason and into the preseason. He is very much in the middle of a position battle, and Saturday he put together a strong showing for the coaching staff. Milton picked off Landry Jones in the end zone, and nearly had a second interception on the Steelers’ following possession.
Milton added 5 tackles and with a few at the position struggling to tackle consistently, or cover effectively – or both – Milton may very well put himself into a battle to start at the nickel spot with another quality showing Thursday night.