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5 Colts Players to Watch Against the Arizona Cardinals

Here are five players to keep an eye on in the Colts home opener Sunday

Indianapolis Colts v Los Angeles Ram Photo by Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images

Jacoby Brissett

This is the guy everyone will be watching closely. With Andrew Luck sidelined indefinitely, the future of this season rests on his shoulders. That is an unfair amount of pressure for a guy who hasn’t been with a team for even a month yet. My advice? Go in with low expectations.

Brissett is not Luck. He won’t be lighting up defenses and making cornerbacks look like a bunch of scrubs. It just isn’t likely to happen. What he might be able to do is use his arm talent and mobility to make some plays that will take some of the pressure off the defense. Perhaps he can avoid throwing multiple touchdowns for the other team. It is even possible that he might be able to make some throws that remind us why T.Y. Hilton was the reigning receiving yards leader from 2016.

For those people aching to see some level of competent quarterback play, Brissett should be able to provide it. Just remember, he hasn’t been here long enough to learn the whole playbook or develop any kind of significant timing with the receivers. So, temper your expectations.

For a great look at the weapons, Brissett brings to the table, check out Brett’s breakdowns of his passing ability as well as his pocket presence and scrambling.

Marlon Mack

Indianapolis Colts v Los Angeles Rams Photo by Jeff Gross/Getty Images

The Cardinals do not have a weak defense, but they are not the Rams. Mack flashed against the Rams and I think we may see that flash turn into a full-blown explosion in this game. Brissett is going to need a guy in the game in 3rd down situations who works as an excellent outlet guy when the Cardinals dial up the blitz.

We saw him see success in those situations where the Colts got him the ball in the flat and Brissett is going to need someone reliable to get the ball to on those kinds of plays. No one on the Colts roster has the kind of ability to do what Mack can when he gets the ball in the second level. I broke down his play here, and if the Colts saw what I did on film, they would be foolish not to get the ball into his hands at least as much as they did against the Rams.

Malik Hooker

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I promise I didn’t just choose guys who I had broken down film on, but subconsciously maybe I chose to look at film of guys I thought might have big weeks. Hooker will be getting his first NFL start with Darius Butler out with a hamstring injury. That means we will have a full game’s worth of opportunity to see if he learned anything from week one to week two.

As I concluded in my film review of him, Hooker has definitely got room to improve, and the main area that can help that improvement is time on the field. His instincts are generally good, but those instincts need to be paired with knowledge of the game and how to play his position. He has pretty limited experience there, and it showed.

However, guys who have good instincts and a nose for the football can sometimes be helped along by an aging quarterback like Carson Palmer. In many ways, Palmer may be a better opponent to face than Jared Goff is. I know that sounds crazy, but think of it this way: Jared Goff’s limitations are inexperience and decision-making. Carson Palmer may be really smart, but it is hard when you are getting older to come to grips with the fact that you cannot make the same throws you used to be able to. If he tries to squeeze in throws or make some of the deep strikes he is so used to, Hooker may get the chance to snatch a pick or at the very least get a pass breakup.

John Simon

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In my Q&A with the Revenge of the Birds, one of my questions was about the position group that the Cardinals feel worst about. The answer, their offensive line. To make matters worse, they will be missing their starting left guard and tackle. That is music to the ears of a defense whose defensive line is without question our strongest unit. It is also music to the ears of John Simon, who has consistently been the Colts best defender so far and was a turnover machine in the preseason. With the Cardinals bad offensive line stuck dealing with our defensive line, as well as the loss of any serious run threat, we might see John Simon run wild in this game.

I know he was on my list of players to watch last week as well, but I’m always going to tend to watch the guys who have that game-wrecking potential and so far, this season the main defensive player with that quality is John Simon. Simon’s edge setting is a big reason for the good play of the Colts against the run this season and now we need to see him used to get after the quarterback.

T.J. Green

Indianapolis Colts v Los Angeles Rams Photo by Jeff Gross/Getty Images

There are a lot of reasons to watch T.J. Green. So far most of them would be to see where the next big play will be happening, and not in a positive way. Green has looked out of his depth so far, and since I haven’t broken down film on Quincy Wilson to compare, I can’t say definitively that he has looked worse than anyone on the roster, but he hasn’t looked good. In an ideal world, Wilson would get the start over Green, but Colts fans don’t live in that world, so here we are.

Green needs to show major improvement in literally every phase of his game to warrant continued starting on this team. His best tackles have come against his own teammates, and he looks lost in coverage most of the time. But there is something he does really well that might just be useful on Sunday. Green is excellent to bring in on a blitz and let him unleash that speed to get after the quarterback.

With the left side of the Cardinals line missing their starters, this might be an opportunity that Monachino cannot pass up. While Green doesn’t contribute much, he could earn his keep for this week if he could pick up a sack or even better a forced fumble.

Who will you be watching on Sunday?