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Bengals v Colts 2017 Preseason Week 4 Open Thread

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NFL: Preseason-Indianapolis Colts at Cincinnati Bengals Aaron Doster-USA TODAY Sports

Well Colts fans, it is all coming to a head. Preseason rosters around the NFL will take the field for the last time in 2017. After today, fans can expect for activity to be fast and furious as players are cut, the waiver wire becomes flush with talent, and teams do final negotiating as they prepare to enter their first official work week of this NFL season.

For Indianapolis, this game has far too much importance than it ever should in a given year. The health and future availability for numerous players, including key starters, is very much up in the air, and at this point the franchise is shining a bright light into the eyes of anyone trying to look up and see when when the team expects to get healthy.

The players who are currently injured and whose short-term or long-term status is unknown includes: Andrew Luck (shoulder), Donte Moncrief (shoulder), Chester Rogers (hamstring), Erik Swoope (knee), Ryan Kelly (foot), Jack Mewhort (knee), Johnathan Hankins (shoulder), Sean Spence, Edwin Jackson, Vontae Davis (groin), Malik Hooker, T.J. Green (shoulder), and Clayton Geathers (neck).

The hope is that many of the players whose injuries are unknown are only being held out as a precaution. Moncrief played against the Steelers so may just be resting his shoulder because he can have the next 5 days off until work begins. It’s possible that is true of Chester Rogers, Johnathan Hankins, Sean Spence, Edwin Jackson, and T.J. Green as well. Fans just have no way of knowing at this point.

There are some key players who could stand to benefit from these players missing time and some of them are playing for a chance to earn a spot on the regular season roster. There is also a key positional battle that, if entirely lopsided, could result in a change at backup quarterback.

While we already know that Scott Tolzien will get the nod to start the game against the Bengals, it will be interesting to see how much the team protects him with just over a week until wins and losses start to matter. It will also be interesting to see if preseason hero Stephen Morris gets a long look behind Tolzien with a legitimate chance to make his own claim to start against the Rams.

What is more likely is that Colts fans will see both quarterbacks play less than they would like and a whole lot more of Phillip Walker. With Morris no longer eligible for the practice squad, Walker’s performance could be the difference between getting a spot and continuing to develop in Indianapolis or having to find his way onto another team.

The bottom spots at wide receiver are intriguing right now. Outside of supposed interest in potentially trading Phillip Dorsett, it can be presumed that Hilton, Moncrief, Rogers, and Dorsett are the top players on the depth chart. After these players, things get really crowded. Veteran free agent addition Kamar Aiken hasn’t shown anything particularly exciting in training camp and preseason (though in his defense he’s had Scott Tolzien throwing to him all summer).

Veteran returner Quan Bray has started to get some opportunities and is in a real fight with preseason favorite JoJo Natson who has been an explosive returner and who has surprisingly outplayed Bray as a receiver as well. Finally there is Bug Howard, a big bodied undrafted player who has received a considerable amount of reps with injuries to other players throughout the summer. He has cooled off a bit over the last couple of weeks but he has to be considered in the mix.

Do the Colts keep 5 or 6 receivers? Natson over Bray? Will Moncrief and Rogers act as the only options with size or will Aiken and Howard also battle for the final spot?

There is a reasonable chance that the Colts only retain the three-headed backfield of Gore, Turbin, and Mack. However, Troymaine Pope and Josh Ferguson may be the primary competition for a fourth spot if the team chooses to keep an extra body at the position. Both could get a lot of work tonight.

Will there be any surprises at safety? Darius Butler hasn’t shown much throughout training camp and the preseason. Malik Hooker has nursed injuries and while he has shown some promise, we don’t know if he will start right away. Matthias Farley has easily been the most consistent and productive safety on the roster. T.J. Green has made a transition to cornerback. Who fills the final spots? A lot of safeties will get a chance to make their claims for a spot tonight.

With Vontae Davis down at cornerback and as a potential IR candidate, which cornerback will be rewarded? Veteran Rashaan Melvin and rookies Quincy Wilson and Nate Hairston are comfortably in line for a spot on the roster. Will T.J. Green be the biggest beneficiary or will Ballard cut him loose? Does Dante Blackmon compete for a spot on the roster with Chris Milton, Chris Culliver, and Corey White? Any one of these players stepping up tonight could decide their fate.

Let’s face it, the last preseason game isn’t the most exciting version of NFL football fans have a chance to watch. Most in attendance will leave the game at half time and those who are watching at home will probably spend more time perfecting their cheese dip for kickoff week than they will watching the players who take the field. Still, there is a lot more at stake for the Colts due to injuries than there otherwise would be and the players who take the field tonight will have every reason to play like their professional football careers depend on it.


To get prepared for the game here is some information you need to know:

Game Time

7:00 PM ET Thursday, August 31, 2017

Location

Lucas Oil Stadium – Indianapolis, Indiana

TV Channel

Fox – Matt Taylor and Rick Venturi with the call

NFL Network - Replay at 7:30 AM EDT on Saturday, September 2nd

Radio Schedule

WFNI and WLHK – Bob Lamey and Jim Sorgi with the call

“Enemy” Blog

Cincy Jungle

Twitter

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