INDIANAPOLIS – In what will probably be their final playing time until the regular season opener in two weeks, the Colts starters played into the third quarter on Saturday night.
The 23-17 loss to the Saints gave the Colts some specific things to key on before they return to national television on September 7 in Denver.
Here's a notebook run down of the Colts third preseason game.
Starters Play Into Third Quarter
In their most extensive dress rehearsal of the preseason, the Colts starters struggled to find the consistency they had played with in the first two weeks.
Both units played into the third quarter and admitted after the game that Saturday night provided several teaching moments for the regular season opener two weeks away.
Offensively, Andrew Luck wasn't at his best against the Saints. Luck finished the night 10-of-18 for 103 yards, one touchdown and one interception.
Luck led six offensive drives (one in the third quarter). Half of those ended in punts, two finished with scores (one touchdown and one field goal) and Luck threw his first interception of the preseason (41 attempts in three games).
"Disappointed in myself. Missed some throws, interception," Luck said after the game.
"We did some good things as well though. We did get a touchdown drive. The two-minute drive, a lot of good things until we get stuck down at the goal line. We need seven points there. So good to get out, get the work."
Trent Richardson finished with 17 yards on six carries and saw his most productive runs come out of the pistol and shotgun formations respectively.
Joining Richardson as a first team running back on Saturday night was Ahmad Bradshaw. The veteran logged 17 snaps (4 touches for 13 yards), in his first game action since last September.
On the other side of the ball, the Saints offense showed why its one of the top units in the league.
Drew Brees made his preseason debut and led a pair of touchdown drives in the opening quarter.
The Colts had their chances to get Brees off the field but several third-and-long conversions kept the 80 plus yard drives alive.
A 20-point first half was not what Pagano had envisioned for his defense, especially with two more elite passing attacks waiting to start the regular season.
"Anytime you go out and give up big plays defensively, you don't tackle well, you don't communicate well, all those type of things, you can't get off the field on third down, against a team like that, give them credit, you're not going to play very well," Pagano said after the game.
"We just didn't do the fundamental things. We're more than capable, and we've seen that."
Second Units Bounce Back**
A week after having a fourth quarter to forget, the Colts reserves tried to muster up a comeback of their own on Saturday night.
In just about a quarter and a half of action, several non-starters made impressions in the final game action before 15 players are cut by Tuesday afternoon.
Boom Herron's impressive preseason continued. The Colts third running back had a 43-yard run to set up the Colts second half touchdown.
Rookie receiver Donte Moncrief got his hands on a few balls, running a reverse for 11 yards and catching a pass for 14 yards.
Griff Whalen led the receivers with two catches for 40 yards.
Defensively, undrafted defensive lineman Zach Kerr is making the most of some first and second team reps.
Kerr ran with the first unit at times on Saturday before having his role ramped up in the second half.
The 335-pound nose tackle had three tackles for loss and for the second straight week, Kerr was able to show off his sack dance.
Inside linebacker Henoc Muamba put together another solid outing. The former No. 1 pick in the CFL had a sack and forced a fumble.
Again, the Colts must have their roster cut to 75 players by Tuesday afternoon before final cuts come Saturday.
Snap Count Look**
Each week, we will take a look at some of the more interesting snap counts from the previous game.
-The Colts starters got six drives of action on Saturday night (Andrew Luck played 34 snaps). T.Y. Hilton led all skill starters with 33 snaps.
-Reggie Wayne played seven snaps and that doesn't include the two catches he caught before having them nullified due to penalties.
-Ahmad Bradshaw saw his first game action in nearly 11 months, playing 17 snaps.
-Coby Fleener and Dwayne Allen each played 23 snaps.
-Rookie Jack Mewhort was back in the starting lineup at left guard and played 32 snaps.
-The defensive starters played seven series (56 snaps).
-The safety battle next to LaRon Landry was broken down as followed: Sergio Brown (33), Mike Adams (28), and Colt Anderson (20)
-LaRon Landy (56 snaps) and Vontae Davis (55 snaps) saw their action significantly increase from their preseason debuts from last week of 15 and 14 snaps.Injury Notes
-Darius Butler left with an ankle injury. It did not require an X-ray and Chuck Pagano said after the game he pulled Butler from the game for precautionary reasons.
-Greg Toler just banged knees on a deep pass early in the quarter.
-Arthur Jones suffered a ribs injury but went back in the game after catching his wind for a few plays.
Photos from the nationally televised preseason week 3 game against New Orleans