One Big Storyline
Matt Ryan will make his (preseason) Colts debut when he plays some or all of the first quarter on Saturday. His exact amount of snaps – and for other members of the first-team offense who suit up – will be determined by the flow of the game and how many plays there are on the Colts' early-game drives.
Among the players Reich did say will play are wide receiver Parris Campbell and safety Julian Blackmon – both guys who suffered serious injuries during the 2021 season.
"It's as much for them as it is for us, just the confidence level," Reich said.
Also: When Ryan does come out of the game, it doesn't sound like the Colts are planning on playing veteran backup Nick Foles much, either.
"Nick is having a great camp," Reich said. "So, get him in there, shake the rust off and then get Sam (Ehlinger) and Jack (Coan) in there and give them plenty of time."
What Coaches Want To See
Reich offered an instructive explanation of how he and his coaching staff will evaluate Saturday's game:
"Everything's a dress rehearsal," Reich said. "We know the score doesn't matter as far as in the big picture, but everything matters as far as us getting better as a team and us determining who's making this team. So, this is a great opportunity for individuals to showcase what they have and really for us as units – as an offensive, defensive and special teams unit. Just to show good, clean, sound, fundamental football. Penalty-free football, that's really what you're looking for."
5 Things To Watch
- How rookies handle their first game. We've seen flashes in practice from plenty members of the Colts' rookie class. But can those flashes continue into a game while mental errors are kept to a minimum? As much as you want to see impressive plays, you also don't want to see penalties or missed assignments from those guys.
- The attacking D-line. Regardless of who plays and how much they play, Saturday will be the first chance Nate Ollie's defensive line can actually sack an opposing quarterback. And for some of the guys fighting for a spot in the Colts' D-line rotation – which, ideally, would go eight players deep – the chance to show they can go "running through a dark room," as Ollie says, and bring a quarterback to the ground will be important for building that depth.
- A check-in on Sam Ehlinger and Jack Coan. As Reich said, expect to see plenty of Ehlinger and Coan on Saturday. Foles this week said he's been impressed with both players' knowledge of the offense and playmaking ability, and we've seen a few standout throws from the two young quarterbacks during practice over the last few weeks.
- An early look at the Colts' depth. In addition to the D-line and QBs, we'll get a look at a handful of players battling for roster spots as the Colts work toward shaping their 53-man roster (final cuts are on Aug. 30; the Colts will cut their roster to 85 on Aug. 16 and 80 on Aug. 23). Keep an eye on who stands out – especially on special teams – throughout four quarters on Saturday.
- The kicking competition. Reich said Rodrigo Blankenship will get one half of the game while Jake Verity will get the other. Blankenship, notably, connected on a 56-yard field goal during practice on Thursday.