INDIANAPOLIS —Back in early August, Indianapolis Colts special teams coordinator Tom McMahon was asked if he was getting a good sense of which younger players on the 90-man roster would likely make the final cut due to their contributions on special teams.
At that time, he said it would truly take a full preseason slate of games to really determine which players can hang on the Colts' kickoff and punt units — and which guys simply couldn't.
Tonight, the Indianapolis Colts travel to Cincinnati to take on the Bengals in both teams' 2016 preseason finales, and, true to his word, McMahon says the game will be a final audition for those players trying to utilize special teams as their primary ticket onto the Colts' Week 1 roster.
"I want to see separation," McMahon said of tonight's game. "There's guys right now at two or three different spots that, they're all the same. You know, and the same guy doesn't win games for you. You need somebody to step up and take ownership of that position, and that's what we're looking for."
McMahon said the younger players who have survived the recent cutdown to 75 players have done a great job buying into mission of the Colts' special teams units.
Simply put, through three preseason games already, the special teamers "come in Monday morning and good events are applauded, and the bad events, we're going to get them fixed."
"They are striking people, they are playing hard, we're blocking well," McMahon said. "We've got to do a better job at tackling, but I think the young guys have really stepped up, and our veterans have kind of (given) them an identity and what's expected — and what's not going to happen, and what is going to happen — and they hold them accountable."
Last year at this time, guys like Tyler Varga and Winston Guy were able to secure a final roster spot primarily due to what they flashed on special teams for the Colts.
McMahon hopes to see at least a couple new guys turn in similar performances tonight against the Bengals.
"This is a big, big game for these guys," he said. "This is where they make the football team."