While it might feel difficult to focus on anything other than processing Andrew Luck’s early retirement — thanks for professionally handling the breaking of that news Adam Schefter — life as a Colts fan rolls on. The team gave a lot of playing time to players who are competing for the final spots on the roster and hoping to earn the coaching staff’s confidence if they are needed to take the field in the regular season.
Let’s take a look at some players who stood out and the possible impact it could have on the future of the Indianapolis Colts.
This isn’t the first time that Chad Kelly has been given an opportunity in preseason to prove that he belongs in the NFL. Fans in Denver will tell you that it’s no surprise to them that he would look really good if given a chance. He has the look of a player who has what it takes to lead a team at quarterback.
He received the starting nod from the front office and delivered 16 completions on 21 attempts for 209 yards, a touchdown and an interception. He also scrambled twice for 34 yards. He continues to display the arm to make any throw, the vision to throw his teammates open, the poise in the pocket to get the ball out, and the legitimate threat of using his legs to pick up yards on the ground when the play breaks down.
It’s unfortunate that he is suspended the first two games of the regular season but, at this point, he would absolutely be my pick to backup Jacoby Brissett. If Brissett struggles, I’d not hesitate to give Kelly a chance in the regular season.
If he can keep his head on straight and manage to not blow this opportunity, Kelly could be in an incredibly fortunate position on a franchise heading in the right direction.
While it is rare for players who join NFL teams after the halfway point of the preseason schedule to have a chance to make the regular season roster, West’s performance on Saturday night puts him in the running to be a possible exception to the rule. If nothing else, it gives the Colts more confidence in their unit if Jordan Wilkins or Jonathan Williams has to miss time.
West looked entirely comfortable carrying the ball, catching the ball in space and willing to stand strong in pass protection. Given that he has only had a few practices to wrap his head around the playbook, it was an impressive showing. He finished with 43 yards and a touchdown on 13 carries and added three receptions on three targets for 27 yards.
The only player to rival Chad Kelly’s rise to the spotlight in the preseason has been Deon Cain. After suffering a season ending knee injury and fighting his way back through rehabilitation and conditioning, he has arrived and started showing some of the things he received attention for in training camp a year ago, only this time it is happening in live games against an opponent.
Cain caught three passes on four targets for 74 yards and a touchdown. His touchdown reception was a well thrown ball in the middle of the field but the yards after the catch and score were self-created. He made a move that forced his defender to miss and changed directions on the field as other defenders over ran the play.
It is really unfortunate that Daurice Fountain suffered an injury in the final training camp practice this summer. If not, these two would be battling it out and the Colts would be better off for it.
This isn’t the first time that Hogan has impressed the Colts in training camp and preseason, however it is the most consistently productive he has been. Hogan caught four passes on five targets for 35 yards. The impressive thing about many of Hogan’s catches is that they either required great hands due to ball placement or they were contested and require concentration and toughness at the catch point.
Finding players who can make difficult, contested catches is a must in the NFL. The talent level of players who start in NFL secondaries is so high that you can be pretty confident that most catches will be made in small windows.
It is still difficult to figure out where the Colts will go as they trim the roster down at wide receiver but Hogan is putting himself in the running with Chester Rogers and Zach Pascal for the final spot or two.
One of the most encouraging performances on defense Saturday night was the edge presence felt from Kemoko Turay. He tallied two tackles and a sack but was in the Bears backfield regularly. His sack was nearly a strip sack, coming around the edge of the left tackle. Given that he has also displayed an effective inside pass rush, its encouraging that he is showing progress and could help Justin Houston generate pressure on the edge.
I will list E.J. Speed as an honorable mention in this list. He continues to look like a player with tremendous upside and impressive range. There is little doubt that he will benefit from more time with the coaching staff but he’s given the Colts a lot of reasons to keep him on the 53-man roster to start the season.
Which players stood out to you?