The Indianapolis Colts travel to take on the Washington Redskins on Saturday, Aug. 25 at 4 p.m. ET, in an important NFL preseason game. As a longtime fan of the Colts, here are some of things I'll be watching when the two teams take the field.
Luck and Griffin
Fans of both teams are surely going to have to endure endless microanalysis of Andrew Luck facing Robert Griffin III from the talking heads on TV. Heck, there's even a $35 t-shirt for sale about the matchup between the top two overall selections of the 2012 NFL Draft.
I couldn't possibly care less about comparing the performances of Luck and Griffin in a preseason game during their rookie seasons. The idea that there's some sort of rivalry between these two quarterbacks is comical. They're not on the field at the same time, I've never heard either of them say a single bad word about the other, and when I think of heated NFL rivalries, the Colts and Redskins don't exactly jump to mind.
What I want to see is Luck's continued development. I thought he looked good against the Pittsburgh Steelers last weekend, especially in the face of early adversity, and I want to see him continue to build on that. The Colts starters are likely to play into the second half of this game, so Luck will get more playing time than he's seen thus far.
This is a fresh challenge for Luck--facing a new team with a new defensive scheme on the road in a new stadium for him--so what's important to me is that he continues to progress and adapt. Whether his stats wind up looking better or worse than Griffin's is irrelevant to me.
As a fan of the NFL in general, I'm also looking forward to seeing Griffin play, so that will be fun to watch.
First Cut-Down Date Looms
NFL teams must reduce rosters from the current 90 players to 75 active players by 4 p.m. ET on Monday, Aug. 27.
For 15 members of the Colts, this is their last opportunity to show the team what they've got, so I want to see who makes their mark against the Redskins and who doesn't. In particular, I'll be watching special teams.
"Most of those young guys need to find a place on special teams, and then we'll find a place for them on offense," said Colts offensive coordinator Bruce Arians through the team's website.
The same likely holds true on defense, too. One of my personal favorites on the 90-man roster right now is LB Jerry Brown. He played on special teams last week during the first half of the Steelers game, and he wound up leading the team with 8 tackles during second-half work at linebacker, so I'll have my eyes peeled for No. 57 in particular, hoping that he can make another good impression and survive that first round of cuts.
The Colts just picked up CB Josh Gordy from the St. Louis Rams in the team's ongoing quest to beef up the defensive backfield, so I want to see what he can do. Cassius Vaughn was acquired from the Denver Broncos earlier this year but has been kind of quiet this preseason. I'd like to see him step things up.
The rest of the defensive backfield should be on edge, too, and ready to impress against the Redskins. I take the acquisition of Gordy as a sign that the front office and coaching staff still feel the need to improve what was a really horrible pass defense last year.
Reading the tea leaves of Colts owner Jim Irsay's Twitter account, the Indianapolis Star reports that the team may be considering making another trade. For who and at what price is anyone's guess at this point, but one name that has been kicked around is Baltimore Ravens cornerback Cary Williams.
If that speculation winds up being true, Gordy, Vaughn, and the rest of the defensive backs have even more pressure to succeed on Saturday afternoon.
Austin Collie suffered another concussion last week and many fans and writers--including me --are hoping that he seriously contemplates the long-term risks to his health before deciding whether or not to return to the field.
In the short term, he's out for this game, so this gives a number of wide receivers a chance to shine. Reggie Wayne is, of course, a lock for a roster spot. T.Y. Hilton is probably safe, too, given that he was a third-round draft pick this spring (and he's been playing well).
LaVon Brazill was a receiver that caught my eye against Pittsburgh, and I'd like to see more of Griff Whalen. Donnie Avery appears likely to suit up for the first time this preseason, so we'll finally get to see what this NFL veteran has to offer.
All in all, there's a lot to watch when the Colts and Redskins collide, and I can't wait for kickoff.
The author is a resident of central Indiana and a longtime fan of the Colts. He is also a Featured Contributor in Sports for the Yahoo! Contributor Network. You can follow him on Twitter at @RedZoneWriting and on Facebook.
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