Preseason game 3 is finally here and this is typically the most important game of the entire preseason. Typically heralded as the final dress rehearsal, starters will likely play until halftime or even into the third quarter depending on the coach. The Colts have had a fairly up and down preseason with some notable surprises but here are the Top 5 things we have to see in the today’s game:
1.) Backup Running Backs Step Up
Running back has been a bit of a question mark for the Colts throughout this preseason. Marlon Mack looked solid in the first game and looks to be the starter once the season starts up. Unfortunately he also suffered a hamstring injury in that game and has been sidelined since. With his status for week one still be questionable, the Colts really need one of their depth guys to show something today.
Robert Turbin has also been dealing with injuries and will likely not play today. Christine Michael has handled most of the running back duties with Turbin and Mack out but he has been largely ineffective. Fan favorite Jordan Wilkins has looked the most promising but has had limited snaps and other rookie Nyheim Hines has had trouble securing the ball. For the Colts to be truly ready for week 1, they need one of these running backs to have a big game today.
I absolutely see what the coaches are talking about with Jordan Wilkins' vision and feel for finding space to run.— Jake Arthur (@JakeArthurNFL) August 21, 2018
2.) Consistent Pass Rush
The Colts pass rush has been a bit weird throughout this preseason. The starters have really struggled to pressure the likes of Russell Wilson and Joe Flacco but the backups looked dominant in moments. Thats not to say that the starters haven’t flashed in their own right too though.
Denico Autry has looked really solid and we know once the season starts Jabaal Sheard will be dominant again. Depth players such as Hassan Ridgeway, John Simon, and Ryan Delaire have also looked really good the last couple games. The next step is putting these flashes together and getting a consistent pass rush going.
The Colts can’t just let Jimmy G sit back there and shred them in this final preseason game for the starters. If the Colts can have a consistent pass rush in today’s game, we should all feel better about this defensive line group heading into the season.
Call me woefully optimistic but I’m not too concerned about the Colts pass rush. Sheard will be great again once the season rolls around and the team is without two dynamic rookie rushers. Also sub players like Simon, Ridgeway, and Autry have looked really good. I’m hopeful— Zach Hicks (@ZachHicks2) August 21, 2018
3.) Denzelle Good Ball Out
It may seem weird to be putting an entire point here to just one player but Denzelle Good playing well in this game is a must. The Colts’ offensive tackles have looked terrible this preseason with Anthony Castonzo out. LeRaven Clark has allowed a lot of pressure filling in for Castonzo and gave up two sacks last game alone.
Austin Howard who was a free agent pickup from the Ravens was expected to be the starter at right tackle but has looked terrible this preseason. He looks very lethargic and slow and giving way too much pressure in the pass game.
Braden Smith showed some promise at right tackle last game but was reaching and grabbing a lot and his best spot is likely at right guard instead. Joe Haeg also played some tackle but he did the natural Joe Haeg thing and was purely average in his playing time. Good needs to have a big game tonight and really solidify what can be a good offensive line for the first time in Andrew Luck’s career.
Denzelle Good returned to practice today for the first time in 3 weeks.— Kevin Bowen (@KBowen1070) August 22, 2018
He considers himself still in the thick of the right tackle job:
“Absolutely. No disrespect to any of the other guys competing for the job, but I feel like I know what it takes to play RT and win the job.”
4.) Skai Moore and Darius Leonard Continue Strong Play
Prior to the preseason, it looked as if the Colts’ weakest position on the Colts would be linebacker. The group is made up of a lot of young, inexperienced players and the depth looked shaky at best. On top of that, presumed starter Anthony Walker got hurt early in the preseason and hasn’t practiced or played since. Luckily though, Undrafted rookie Skai Moore and second round rookie Darius Leonard have looked great in the first two preseason games.
Both players add a new layer of speed and physicality to linebacker core that has really lacked it in recent years. Leonard looks to be a dominant run defender and is super aggressive in that area, often times tackling running backs in the backfield. Skai Moore is an excellent pass defender and really understands how to play man and zone at a high level.
Both should have their struggles once the season starts since they are rookies, but if they continue their strong play today I am very optimistic about this linebacker group heading not the season.
Darius Leonard is playing like a beast against the run. Skai Moore is a really good pass defender. Potentially great duo going forward— Zach Hicks (@ZachHicks2) August 21, 2018
5.) NO. MORE. INJURIES
I understand this is a bit uncontrollable but is it too much to ask to get pout of this game injury free? The Colts have had way too many injuries this offseason. Promising rookies Deon Cain tore his ACL in the first game, and rookies Tyquan Lewis and Kemoko Turay have yet to play in a preseason game this year.
Starters Anthony Walker and Marlon Mack haven’t practiced in weeks and may not play week 1. Other notable players such as Anthony Castonzo, TY Hilton, Denico Autry, and Robert Turbin have also missed time due to injury. So in short, there have been a lot of injuries. The best thing that could come from today’s game would to escape it with no injuries.