clock menu more-arrow no yes

Filed under:

Colts vs Bengals: Position battles to watch in preseason week four

New, comments
NFL: Indianapolis Colts at Seattle Seahawks Joe Nicholson-USA TODAY Sports

For all three of you who intend to voluntarily watch the Colts’ week four preseason matchup in its entirety, I salute you. From the moment the full schedule was made known, we knew that it would be a very dull affair.

When your final preseason matchup and your first regular season matchup are against the same opponent, how can you not expect your team to show absolutely as little as possible? Yet that is precisely the situation in which a group of backup players will battle intensely to cement themselves on this Colts roster.

While the game itself will be a snoozer, the outcome definitely matters for some of those players. There are several battles worth watching, so lets take a look at them.

Offensive Line

NFL: Jacksonville Jaguars at Indianapolis Colts Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports

While the left side of the line is settled, the right side of the offensive line at both the guard and tackle positions is not. Matt Slauson has been the presumed starter at the right guard position, but that is not a guarantee according to Reich. Rookie Braden Smith is still contending for that spot.

At right tackle, the competition is wide open. Our own Brett Mock thinks that is where Smith would be best suited to play, beside Matt Slauson. Austin Howard has provided ample evidence that he does not belong on the roster, let alone starting, which leaves Joe Haeg, an injured Denzelle Good, and J’Marcus Webb to jockey for that spot. It sounded as though Joe Haeg would get the nod to start tonight.

Wide Receiver

NFL: Baltimore Ravens at Indianapolis Colts Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports

The wide receiver competition is another that remains a toss-up. Rookie 5th round pick Reece Fountain has a critical night ahead of him if he wants to convince the coaching staff that he brings production, not just potential, to the roster. Guys like Zach Pascal, Steve Ishmael, and Kasen Williams have all wowed at various points in the offseason and will be gunning for the remaining spots.

This competition may come down to special teams contribution. The guys who can be a difference maker on special teams will likely get the nod while the rest go by the wayside. This is an area I would not be surprised to see Ballard address with waiver claims, so even when this evening is concluded, the guys who “win” won’t be even close to done battling.

Cornerback

NFL: Indianapolis Colts at Seattle Seahawks Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Who will start for the Colts at cornerback once the regular season starts? All along the defense there has been a lot of rotation as guys attempt to make their case for bigger roles. The cornerbacks have been no different.

We have not seen clear indicators about who will be locked in where, and it is safe to say that the situation remains fluid. My prediction is that Quincy Wilson and Pierre Desir start on the outside and Kenny Moore gets the nod in the slot, but with Moore’s versatility to play in the slot and on the boundary, we could see either Desir or Wilson sitting and Moore moving to the outside while Hairston plays the slot.

Injuries have muddied the waters in this competition, and we don’t yet know who will be active for the game. However, this is the last chance before the games matter for the starters to set their spots, and for the depth players to make a case to remain.

Running Back

NFL: Baltimore Ravens at Indianapolis Colts Thomas J. Russo-USA TODAY Sports

This spot seems less in peril due to injuries, but Frank Reich has said that Robert Turbin will need to show up tonight to earn his spot on the roster. It very well could be that we have all taken for granted that Turbin will make the team, but given that he won’t count against the roster and that there could likely be running backs brought in off waivers, that is not necessarily the case.

Tonight’s game will also be an opportunity for Nyheim Hines to have a good showing after what has been a shaky preseason. He needs to show he can have a game where ball security is not an issue, and make himself a valuable weapon on the offense.

Jordan Wilkins will be looking to show that he can continue to produce and further cement himself in as the best option behind a healthy Marlon Mack. If Mack is not ready to go week one, Wilkins is likely the guy who will see the majority of the carries, so he needs to prove to the coaching staff that he deserves that consideration by finishing strong.