INDIANAPOLIS — The Indianapolis Colts today announced their four preseason opponents for 2019, which are as follows (dates and times to be released at a later date):
» Game 1: at Buffalo Bills
» Game 2: vs. Cleveland Browns
» Game 3: vs. Chicago Bears
» Week 4: at Cincinnati Bengals
Here’s the latest on each opponent with the NFL’s offseason workout schedule just getting underway:
Colts @ Bills:
Frank Reich makes his triumphant return to Buffalo, where he spent the first nine years of his playing career as the team’s backup quarterback to Pro Football Hall of Famer Jim Kelly.
The Bills in 2018 finished with a 6-10 record and a third-place finish in the AFC East Division. Among their losses was a 37-5 Week 7 drubbing by the Colts at Lucas Oil Stadium, in which Indianapolis dominated on the ground (220 rushing yards) as well as defensively; in all, the Colts collected five takeaways — two on forced fumbles/recoveries and three on interceptions.
Buffalo has been plenty busy this offseason, adding several pieces in free agency, including center Mitch Morse, wide receivers Cole Beasley and John Brown, tight end Tyler Kroft, center/guard Spencer Long, tackle Ty Nsekhe, wide receiver/returner Andre Roberts, cornerbacks Kevin Johnson and E.J. Gaines and former Colts running back Frank Gore.
Among those not returning to the Bills in 2019 are guard John Miller, running back Chris Ivory and tight ends Charles Clay and Logan Thomas. Longtime defensive tackle Kyle Williams also retired following the 2018 season.
As of now, Buffalo will enter the 2019 NFL Draft with 10 draft picks, including the ninth-overall selection in the first round. The Bills have one pick each in rounds one, two, three and six, and two picks each in rounds four, five and seven.
Colts vs. Browns:
This preseason matchup at Lucas Oil Stadium will be the culmination of multiple days of joint training camp practices between the two teams at Grand Park Sports Campus in Westfield, Ind.
The Browns last season parlayed a midseason coaching change into a resurgent second half of the season, turning around a 2-5-1 record through Week 8 and finishing at 7-8-1, the team’s best record since 2007.
The team already headed into this offseason with plenty of promise, led by 2018 NFL Rookie of the Year candidate Baker Mayfield at quarterback, as well as wide receiver Jarvis Landry and running back Nick Chubb on offense, with defensive end Myles Garrett and cornerback Denzel Ward on defense. But general manager John Dorsey turned his team into the talk of the league at the start of free agency when he acquired wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr. and defensive end Olivier Vernon in a trade with the New York Giants. The team also signed free agent defensive tackle Sheldon Richardson, safety Morgan Burnett, tight end Demetrius Harris, linebacker Adarius Taylor and tackle Kendall Lamm.
Among those not returning to the Browns in 2019 are safety Jabrill Peppers (who was traded to the Giants), quarterback Tyrod Taylor, wide receiver Breshad Perriman and cornerback E.J. Gaines.
As of now, Cleveland enters the 2019 NFL Draft with eight picks — one each in rounds two, three, four, six and seven, and three picks in round five.
Colts vs. Bears:
These two historic NFL franchises will meet up in Indy for what is traditionally the final regular-season tune-up for the starters. The game will also serve as the return of new Bears defensive coordinator Chuck Pagano, who was the Colts’ head coach from 2012 to 2017.
Like the Colts, the Bears had a resurgent season in 2018 under a first-year head coach in Matt Nagy. Chicago finished 12-4 and earned its first playoff berth and NFC North Division title since 2010. The Bears would fall to the Philadelphia Eagles, 16-15, in their Wild Card Round matchup at Soldier Field.
The Bears this offseason have made a few key moves in free agency, adding the likes of cornerback Buster Skrine, wide receiver Cordarrelle Patterson, running back Mike Davis and safety HaHa Clinton-Dix, while the team also re-signed linebacker Aaron Lynch. Among those not returning to the Bears in 2019 are running back Jordan Howard (who was traded to the Eagles), safety Adrian Amos, cornerback Bryce Callahan, wide receiver Josh Bellamy, guard Eric Kush, wide receiver Kevin White and guard Ted Larsen.
As of now, the Bears will enter the 2019 NFL Draft with five picks, none of which will be in the first two rounds. They have one pick each in rounds three, four and five, and two seventh-round picks.
Colts @ Bengals:
The Colts and Bengals continue their annual Interstate 74 preseason finale rivalry with this matchup at Paul Brown Stadium.
The Bengals finished the 2018 season with a 6-10 record and a fourth-place finish in the AFC North Division. Cincinnati got off to a hot start, winning four of its first five games, but couldn’t keep up the pace, finishing with losses in nine of its final 11 contests.
The Bengals did defeat the Colts, 34-23, in the two teams’ 2018 regular season opener at Lucas Oil Stadium. Trailing by just four points, 27-23, with 40 seconds remaining, Indianapolis was in prime position to possibly earn a come-from-behind victory in head coach Frank Reich’s debut, but tight end Jack Doyle was unable to hang on to the ball just short of the Cincinnati 15-yard line, and safety Clayton Fejedelem was there to take the fumble 83 yards to the house for the game-sealing defensive touchdown.
This has been an offseason of change for the Bengals, who parted ways with head coach Marvin Lewis after 16 seasons at the helm of the franchise. He was replaced by 35-year-old Zac Taylor, who had previously served as Sean McVay’s quarterbacks coach with the Los Angeles Rams. The team has mostly re-signed its own in free agency, bringing back the likes of tight ends Tyler Eifert and C.J. Uzomah, tackle Bobby Hart and linebacker Preston Brown. But the team has also signed a couple key outside free agents: guard John Miller and cornerback B.W. Webb are among the more notable transactions.
Among those not returning to the Bengals in 2019 are tight end Tyler Kroft, linebacker Vontaze Burfict, tackle Cedric Ogbuehi and tight end Jake Fisher.
Cincinnati, as of now, enters the 2019 NFL Draft with 11 picks, including the 11th-overall selection in the first round. The team has one pick each in rounds one, two, three, four, five and seven, but has five sixth-round picks.