INDIANAPOLIS – For cornerback Brandon King, the stress and opportunity that the final week of the preseason presents is nothing new to him.
Two years ago, King headed into the Colts' fourth preseason game as a fringe player with an opportunity to make the final 53-man roster.
He made the most of his chance to open against Cincinnati by registering a handful of tackles with the starting defense, thus establishing his spot come opening day.
What does the final week of the preseason mean to players in King's position?
"Everything, it's your life," King said. "You try to do everything possible to make that last impression. (You) try and have as best game as possible because what you do in the first three games might not mean anything if you perform well in this last game."
Last season, it was safety Joe Lefeged making the most of extended playing time in the final week of the preseason.
After recording six tackles in the Colts' first three preseason games, Lefeged had eight stops against the Bengals and found himself on the roster for week one.
Lefeged acknowledged he knew what was at stake a year ago this week, but he said he did not have time to be nervous.
"If you prepare in the offseason, work hard each day, study at night and do all the little things that you're supposed to do, you can go out there and play free," Lefeged said. "You don't really have to worry about it."
Running back Darren Evans followed the same path as Lefeged.
As an undrafted free agent, Evans had 10 carries and a touchdown in week four of the preseason, which led to a place on the 53-man roster.
Evans knew last year and knows now how vital the reps are that he is going to get on Thursday.
"It's extremely important because I get a little bit more time to show what I can do," Evans said. "I just want to do everything the best way I can, limit my mistakes to zero and just give a maximum amount of effort. I think that'll pull through for me."
While the players stress the need to produce on Thursday evening, Head Coach Chuck Pagano said he and his staff look at the whole body of work when evaluating players.
"The last one is just as important as the first one," said Pagano. "I've been around the league 11 years now. I've seen guys come out of nowhere the last week and make a case for themselves, either from a special teams standpoint, or on offense and defense and make it really hard on the coaching staff and the personnel people to determine who is going to make that 53rd spot."
Pagano and his staff will have until 9:00 p.m. Friday to decide on who makes the 53-man roster.
It will be a quick turnaround for the Colts staff, moving from a 7:00 p.m. kickoff on Thursday evening to having to trim the roster by 22 players the following day.
Although Pagano says his staff will not put any added emphasis on the Cincinnati game, his players know full well what will be freshest in their coaches' minds.
"What have you done for me lately? You play well in this last one, that'll get you one foot in the door," said King.