INDIANAPOLIS — The Indianapolis Colts (0-2) on Saturday welcome their neighbors from the north to Lucas Oil Stadium for their final home preseason game of 2019. The Chicago Bears (0-2) bring with them an incredibly talented defense led by a familiar face, with a young, up-and-coming offense.
This game is yet another opportunity for those competing for both teams' final roster spots to show maximum effort and make a name for themselves.
Here's everything you need to know about this Saturday's I-65 showdown.
- Saturday, Aug. 24, at 7 p.m. E.T.
- Indianapolis; Lucas Oil Stadium
- TV: FOX59 (WXIN) — Greg Rakestraw (play-by-play), Rick Venturi (color) and Larra Overton (sideline)
- Stream: Colts.com and the Colts mobile app
- To find out what games will be on in your area, check here.
- Radio: WFNI “1070 The Fan” and WLHK “HANK FM” — Matt Taylor (play-by-play), Jim Sorgi (color) and Jeffrey Gorman (sideline)
- Colts lead, 23-19 (1-0 in the playoffs). In the preseason, the Bears lead, 9-5-1.
- Last game — Week 5 of 2016. Colts won, 29-23. The Bears won the last preseason matchup in 2015, 23-11.
- HC Frank Reich
- OC Nick Sirianni
- DC Matt Eberflus
- STC Bubba Ventrone
- HC Matt Nagy
- OC Mark Helfrich
- DC Chuck Pagano
- STC Chris Tabor
OTHER SIGNIFICANT CHANGES
- Overall, this was a pretty quiet offseason for the Colts for a change. It was about building onto and shaping the current roster rather than shaking things up or making sweeping changes.
- Former starting receivers Ryan Grant and Dontrelle Inman both departed in free agency, and veterans Mike Mitchell and Al Woods also were not re-signed by the team. Offensive lineman Matt Slauson retired following a 10-year career.
- The Colts did do two big things through acquisitions, and that was to add dynamic playmaking on offense in the form of wide receivers Parris Campbell and Devin Funchess, and they added a ton of speed on defense with Ben Banogu, Bobby Okereke and E.J. Speed.
- As the Bears bolster their roster, it meant the departure of several key faces over the offseason, including trading running back Jordan Howard to the Philadelphia Eagles, cutting kicker Cody Parkey and safety Adrian Amos, receiver Josh Bellamy and nickel cornerback Bryce Callahan all leaving in free agency. The Bears were able to find replacements for each with the draft and free agency.
- The Bears' staunch defensive unit lost its long-respected defensive coordinator, Vic Fangio, who left to finally become a head coach with the Denver Broncos.
STORYLINES/THINGS TO WATCH
- Not So Much The Final Dress Rehearsal — Originally, the Colts planned to play their starters in the traditional third preseason game "dress rehearsal," but they had a change of heart in the interest of keeping players healthy and giving fringe roster players more opportunity to compete for spots. “Just to start, one update from yesterday – I mentioned that the ones were going to play a little bit. I wasn’t sure how much. After thinking that through, looking at everything that we look at and sitting down with Chris (Ballard) last night and just talking that through, we’ve just decided that you are probably not going to see most of the ones in this game. You are probably not going to see most of the ones in this game. So this will be a great opportunity for those guys who do get to play to get even more reps,” Colts head coach Frank Reich told reporters on Wednesday. “There were several major factors that went into it. One, just looking at the health of the team, just thinking, ‘Hey, they weren’t going to play much anyway so really are we getting much out of five, seven or eight reps for the risk that you incur by putting those guys out there?’ I am pretty sure they’re not playing a lot of their guys. Right now, the best thing is we are looking to figure out who are the guys that are going to be on this roster? That’s one objective. Then the other objective is to get ready for the season opener. So this game is a great opportunity – and this week is a great opportunity for both of those,” Reich continued.
- Roster Bubble Players Get Much-Needed Playing Time — Because the Colts' primary players won't be playing in this game, it gives players who are still fighting for roster spots even more opportunity to leave an impression. Normally, they'd have the fourth preseason game to do this, but now they have both of these last two contests. "No, there are spots open. It’s very competitive. I mean we said from the start, this is a good football team. There are a lot of good football players on this team. This is the NFL, each one of us – each coach, each player – fights for his spot every day. That’s really the mentality that we want," Reich said. "There is just nothing good that comes from you’ve got things figured out. It’s just human nature to slack off. It’s just human nature to slack off. We talk a lot about creating an edge. How do we maintain an edge? One of the things that coaches do to help create that edge is (say) our jobs are never secure, the players’ jobs are never secure. You’ve got to prove it every day. That helps me keep the edge. That’s how I think of it. I’ve got to prove it every day and I think it’s healthy for the players to think the same thing.”
- Chuck Pagano Returns — Former Colts head coach Chuck Pagano, who led the team from 2012 to 2017, will be making his return to Indianapolis as the Bears' defensive coordinator. This is Pagano's first coaching gig landed since parting ways with the Colts following the 2017 season. “I’d be lying if I said there wasn’t going to be any [emotions],” Pagano said. “I’m sure once we get down there, step out on the field and go through all the pre-game stuff, see a lot of old faces, shake a lot of hands, high fives and all that. I had six great years there and have a lot of fond memories, so it’ll be pretty cool.”
INTRIGUING COLTS PLAYERS TO WATCH
- QBs Phillip Walker and Chad Kelly — There is no question who the quarterback is behind Andrew Luck as Jacoby Brissett has taken every first-team rep in his absence, but there is quite the battle going on behind Brissett. The Colts have quite a bit of faith in Phillip Walker, who is going into his third season with the team. However, newcomer Chad Kelly has made quite a few plays as well throughout training camp and the preseason. Kelly is not only the Colts' leading passer and rusher so far this preseason, but he has also led four of the Colts' seven scoring drives.
- WR Deon Cain, Marcus Johnson, Krishawn Hogan and Zach Pascal — Deon Cain, Marcus Johnson, Krishawn Hogan and Zach Pascal are all very intriguing to watch this week, but for slightly different reasons. It seems likely that Cain makes the 53-man roster, but it's his quick return from ACL surgery that has some inspired. “It’s very inspiring, just him being able to show his emotions and him being back out there. I know he’s put in a lot of hard work, a lot of time, a lot of training, a lot of getting his body back right how he wants it. I know confidence continues to build for him. So, I’m very excited," fellow Colts receiver T.Y. Hilton said of Cain. “Oh absolutely," Hilton said as to if Cain is pushing the other top receivers. "Just seeing him out there is a blessing.” Johnson and Hogan have both had an outstanding summer and have made their own cases to make the roster. Whether they're able to make the Colts' roster or are looking for a new team in a couple weeks, they have and will likely continue to put quality tape out there on their behalf. “Yeah, Krishawn has done very well, very consistent. He’s very smart, really good hands, makes all the tough catches and has been productive," Reich said of Hogan. "So he is doing everything he needs to do to make himself relevant in this competition.”
- TEs Ross Travis and Hale Hentges — There's been a very entertaining, yet unexpected battle brewing at tight end this summer between veteran Ross Travis and rookie undrafted free agent Hale Hentges. Known as a blocking tight end coming out of Alabama, Hentges surprised everybody when he started making plays as a pass-catcher. “I would feel comfortable saying he has surprised me," Reich said specifically of Hentges. "Not that we didn’t think he was a good player, he played tight end at Alabama. So he has played at a good program, but just his level of consistency and playmaking. He hasn’t just been productive in these preseason games, he’s been productive in practice and (he’s) a very smart player.” Reich continued discussing the battle between Hentges and Travis, identifying each as having their own skill sets. “You’re exactly right. Really, we look at it as two different positions, not completely, but pretty much. Obviously with Ross being in the mold of (Eric) Ebron and Hale being in the mold of Jack (Doyle) and the roles that they play, which we use differently in our offense. So that’s a mix that Chris (Ballard) and I talk about a lot when it comes down to roster spots and how that all plays out. They both look good," Reich said. "There is no reason to try to decide that right now. They both have continued to be consistent, steady and good progress. Some of those decisions get made on health of the roster – the health of everybody and what we are planning on doing offensively, what are we planning on emphasizing? Chris has to manage all the stuff – everything else (and) all the other roster considerations," Reich continued.
- DEs Ben Banogu, Carroll Phillips and Gerri Green — The Colts were able to get rookie second-round draft pick Banogu on the playing field last Saturday against the Cleveland Browns, and he's hoping to build on that performance going into the third preseason game. Fellow rookie defensive end Gerri Green is in a slightly different situation than Banogu with the benefit of being able to practice and play all summer, but he too has these last couple of games to show what he's got. He's progressed into becoming a strong edge-setter at end so far in the two games he's played. Last is Carroll Phillips, who blew up for two sacks and a fumble recovery in the first preseason game against the Buffalo Bills. He spent time on the Colts' active roster last season, so a strong close-out to the preseason would give him a good argument to be on it once again.
- LBs Zaire Franklin and E.J. Speed — Franklin has proven to be a quality special teamer and backup linebacker in his time since being drafted by the Colts in the seventh round last season. He can, and does, play any of the Colts' three base linebacker positions, and he is always around the ball on kick coverage teams. Likewise, the rookie Speed has been moved around between SAM and WILL linebacker throughout the summer and has had some really nice moments, even leading the team in tackles (six) against the Bills. Both players have seen some first-team reps during camp, so these next two games will be critical for them to not only make the team, but to also make a push for significant defensive and special teams snaps in the regular season.
- CBs Nate Hairston, Jalen Collins and Marvell Tell III — Cornerback depth is another sneaky good position battle going on behind Pierre Desir, Kenny Moore II, Quincy Wilson and Rock Ya-Sin. Nate Hairston and Jalen Collins are both experienced starters in the NFL, with Hairston showing his versatility as both an inside and outside cornerback for the Colts in the past. Collins, meanwhile, has started in a Super Bowl that his Atlanta Falcons nearly won. Marvell Tell III is making his transition from collegiate free safety to pro cornerback, and he's definitely had his flashes. While he is still working on everything it takes to be a corner, he has shown the confidence and comfort level to make plays on the ball and be aggressive with his assigned receiver/zone.
Since official pregame injury reports are not required until the regular season, these are simply players who have been declared to be out indefinitely, for a period of time beyond this game or have missed some practice recently. Whether or not they will play is not yet known.
- LB Matthew Adams (not disclosed), WR Parris Campbell (hamstring), DT/DE Tyquan Lewis (not disclosed), QB Andrew Luck (ankle), DE Jabaal Sheard (knee), K Adam Vinatieri (knee), RB Jordan Wilkins (foot), RB Jonathan Williams (chest)
- TE Trey Burton (sports hernia), OT Rashaad Coward (elbow), WR Anthony Miller (ankle)
- (Retractable roof stadium) Mostly sunny, 10-percent chance of precipitation, temperature in the mid-70s°F, wind from ENE at 12 mph
- Head referee: Alex Kemp (six years). Click here to see all referee assignments for preseason Week 3.
- Favorite: Colts (-1.0)
- Over/Under: 37.5
PRESEASON STATS LEADERS
- Passing — QB Chad Kelly (236 yards)
- Rushing — QB Chad Kelly (53 yards)
- Receiving — WR Deon Cain (95 yards)
- Touchdowns — TE Eric Ebron, QB Chad Kelly, TE Ross Travis (1)
- Tackles — S Rolan Milligan, S Khari Willis (9)
- Sacks — DE Carroll Phillips (2.0)
- Interceptions — N/A
- Passing — QB Chase Daniel (223 yards)
- Rushing — RB Kerrith Whyte Jr. (45 yards)
- Receiving — WR Javon Wims (79 yards)
- Touchdowns — RB David Montgomery, RB Kerrith Whyte Jr. (1)
- Tackles — LB Josh Woods (14)
- Sacks — LB Isaiah Irving, LB Nick Kwiatkoski, DE Roy Robertson-Harris, LB Roquan Smith, LB James Vaughters (1.0)
- Interceptions — S Deon Bush, CB Clifton Duck (1)
PRESEASON TEAM STATS
- Total offense — 9th (348.0 YPG)
- Scoring offense — Tied-22nd (17.0 PPG)
- Passing offense — 6th (259.0 YPG)
- Sacks allowed — Tied-14th (4)
- Running offense — 20th (89.0 YPG)
- Third down offense — Tied-30th (24%)
- Red zone offense — 20% (N/A)
- Total defense — 21st (326.0 YPG)
- Scoring defense — 22nd (22.5 PPG)
- Passing defense — 15th (212.5 YPG)
- Sacks — Tied-12th (5)
- Running defense — 22nd (113.5 YPG)
- Third down defense — 17th (36%)
- Red zone defense — 71.4% (N/A)
- Time of possession — 11th (31:34)
- Turnover differential — 10th (+1)
- Total offense — 31st (208.5 YPG)
- Scoring offense — Tied-27th (13.0 PPG)
- Passing offense — 29th (150.5 YPG)
- Sacks allowed — Tied-27th (8)
- Running offense — 31st (58.0 YPG)
- Third down offense — 20th (31%)
- Red zone offense — 40% (N/A)
- Total defense — 24th (340.0 YPG)
- Scoring defense — 31st (27.5 PPG)
- Passing defense — 14th (211.5 YPG)
- Sacks — Tied-12th (5)
- Running defense — 26th (128.5 YPG)
- Third down defense — 21st (40%)
- Red zone defense — 60% (N/A)
- Time of possession — 26th (27:03)
- Turnover differential — 3rd (+3)
NOTES AND QUOTES
- This week, the Colts signed free agent safety Kai Nacua, defensive tackle Johnny Robinson and running backs Charcandrick West and Marquis Young. They also waived safety Derrick Kindred, defensive end Dadi Nicolas, and placed running back D'Onta Foreman and wide receiver Daurice Fountain on Injured Reserve.
- Reich on how the Colts can still get quality work done in practice despite not playing their starters the rest of the preseason: “Yes. So what we do (and) how it changes practice is typically in Week 3 now we would be carding practices – carding against their defense. Now when we do that, we just have the guys who are actually going to (play). So half the practice is carded so the guys who are playing in the game are getting those reps. The other half of practice is ones versus ones – still competitive, much like the beginning of training camp. We might make exceptions to that, Nick (Sirianni) and Flus (Matt Eberflus) might talk and if we are trying to get something done in an offensive period he may ask Flus to play certain coverages or certain fronts for a few plays that we might see – defenses or schemes or coverages that we might see in Week 1. But for the most part it’s still just ones versus ones.”
- Reich on if Luck's absence from practice this week factors into whether Luck or Jacoby Brissett will start Week 1 of the regular season against the Los Angeles Chargers: “At this point, not practicing this week doesn’t impact that. If we were to get into next week then we would have to reconsider.”
- Reich on if there is any concern kicker Adam Vinatieri, who has sat out the last couple weeks with a knee injury, will not be ready for Week 1: “No, no concern. No concern at all.”