Colts football is back.... sort of. The Colts faced off against the Buffalo Bills on Thursday night for the first preseason game of the year. Unfortunately, the Colts came out a bit flat and lost 24-16. Even with the loss, the Colts had a few notable standouts in the game. In today’s film room article, we will highlight a few of those standouts and show some of their best plays from the first game of the season.
Just a quick note though before we jump into the film though. NFL Gamepass does not offer All-22 film for the Preseason for some reason. As a result, all the clips for this article will be from standard broadcast angle rather than the typical All-22 angle. It is a bit tougher to see the field but the video is still there at least. Without anymore delay though, lets jump into the highlights.
Carroll Phillips, Defensive End
Phillips had a really solid game for the Colts on Thursday. A waiver claim last season, he does have some familiarity with this team. He showed quick burst off of the edge and made a couple impact plays when given the chance. He finished the game with two sacks and a fumble recovery.
In the first clip here, Phillips does a great job of staying home on the backside of the play fake. He doesn’t bite on the fake and turns his attention towards the quarterback. He then gets in the face of the passer quickly and gets his first sack of the game. Great job staying home and reading the play fake for the easy sack.
In a better highlight to showcase his skill set, here he beats the left tackle and nearly comes up with the sack. He is quick off the line and ducks under the outstretched arms of the tackle. He then flattens at the top of his arc and makes a direct line to the passer. He hits the QB as he lets go of the ball and forces the wobbly throw and incomplete pass.
Grover Stewart Defensive Tackle
Another defensive standout was Grover Stewart. A former fourth round pick of Chris Ballard, Stewart has mostly been a run stuffer in his time with the team. This off-season though, he seems to have slimmed down in order to fit the Colts’ gap shooting scheme. He looked much quicker and more explosive as a result in this game.
In this first clip, you can see his explosion. He explodes off the ball and rips through a double team. He separates from the lineman and meets the running back in the hole. Although he doesn’t get the tackle, he does force the cutback and disrupts the play. Great overall play from the third year vet.
In rushing the passer, he also flashed on Thursday. Here he comes around on the stunt play and forces the quarterback to step up in the pocket and take a sack. Notice how he crowds the pass lane and makes the QB have to tuck the ball. Also look how much quicker he looks compared to years past. I’m officially excited for Grover Stewart this season.
Jonathan Williams Running Back
Williams was very promising in Thursday’s game. The former 5th round pick of the Buffalo Bills played very well against his former team. He showed a nice blend of power and finesse on his runs. He also caught the ball well out of the backfield and picked up a few blitzes on the night.
The Colts have needed a power back who can convert short yardage plays. Williams showed that he can do that. He converted both of his short yardage opportunities including this run right here. He is patient on the run and finds an exit route to the outside. He finishes the run by fighting through contact and even getting out of bounds to preserve the clock. Impressive run.
On his second short yard conversion, he does a great job of continually churning his feet. He is initially stuffed in the hole but a great second effort gets the first on the fourth down run. His power and contact balance were very impressive in the first preseason game and I think it is just a sign of things to come for this talented running back.
Other Notable Standouts
Chad Kelly Quarterback
Kelly had a great game on Thursday. He looked the most poised and comfortable of all the Colts’ quarterbacks and his mobility was impressive. He stood strong in the pocket all night and made a few big throws. The biggest highlight of the game was his explosive 33 yard touchdown run. Impressive debut for the new quarterback.
Daurice Fountain Wide Receiver
The toughest competition on the roster comes down to the final few spots of the Colts’ receiver depth chart. The player that helped himself the most on Thursday was second year receiver Daurice Fountain. He made a couple highlight plays in his 5 catch 65 yard performance. He made a few impressive plays in traffic including this dazzling high point catch near the sideline in the fourth quarter. Great game for the young receiver.
Obum Gwacham Defensive End
Who? Gwacham has quietly had a good off-season with the Colts. The big defensive end has given a few of the lineman fits in training camp with his size and length. On Thursday, that size really stuck out as he found himself in the backfield on multiple occasions. Here he fights through the block of the left tackle and works his way into the backfield for the near sack. He likely doesn’t make this roster but with a good preseason, Gwacham could find himself on the practice squad in 2019.
EJ Speed Linebacker
The biggest surprise of draft day was EJ Speed out of Tarleton State going in the 5th round. Speed was a relative unknown but put together a good game on Thursday after a great camp. He was a bit slow to read and react to the action in front of him but his athleticism was on full display. From running downfield with 4.3 receivers to making run stops all over the field, he was an impact player. Speed may be a bit of a project but he showed on Thursday that he has the ability to play in this league.
Khari Willis Safety
Another rookie standout was safety Khari Willis. He had a few rough plays in coverage to start the day as he got mixed up on a smash route early and got a little too deep in his zone coverage. Where he looked very good though was in run defense and tackling overall. He came downhill well and was a very sure tackler all day. His willingness to be physical and overall strength was a great sign for the team.
Marcus Johnson Wide Receiver
The final standout from Thursday’s game was receiver Marcus Johnson. Johnson had a near break out performance against the Jets before ending up on IR. He showed off that speed and quickness again last night. The highlight of the night for him was this toe tapping catch at the end of the first half. Great play by yet another receiver attempting to make the team in this crowded receiver room.