Colts Starters Receive More Playing Time, Deliver With Production

Intro: As expected, the Colts starters received more playing time in Saturday’s preseason home opener. They delivered with more production in their half of work against the Bears, despite a 23-11 loss on Saturday night.

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INDIANAPOLISJust like they did in Thursday's joint practice with the Bears, the Colts starting offense made sure they finished their work on a high note Saturday night.

Andrew Luck's final action on Saturday saw him lead the Colts on a nine-play, 89-yard touchdown drive, the lone touchdown for either starting unit in Indianapolis' preseason home opener.

While there were the usual positives and negatives (Chuck Pagano said pass protection and committed penalties remain a definite focus heading into Week Three of the preseason) to take away from any game action, the Colts head coach got what he wanted out of his starters on Saturday---a healthy starting unit after nearly two quarters of action.

Luck led the Colts offense on three drives Saturday night, with the unit bouncing back from some early troubles in protecting the franchise quarterback.

Frank Gore made his Colts debut against Chicago, with two carries for 10 yards. A lack of carries in the preseason for Gore isn't unusual. In his three three previous preseasons, Gore had a total of 11 carries.

The touchdown drive for the Colts was sparked by the man who has done just that so frequently in his first three NFL seasons.

After dropping a pass with plenty of open turf in front of him, T.Y. Hilton wouldn't waste his next opportunity. Luck found Hilton for a 45-yard connection, pushing the Colts deep into Bears territory.

Luck would later cap the drive with a five-yard touchdown run, marking a trio of third-down conversions on the touchdown drive.

Andre Johnson followed with a two-point conversion catch to give the Colts an 8-6 lead early in the second quarter.

After 18 snaps of work for Luck, he finished the night 5-of-9 for 71 yards and a rushing touchdown.

The nine-play, 89-yard touchdown drive was a key culmination to Luck's night.

"I thought we settled down, got rolling and put a nice, long drive together that ended with eight points," Luck said of the offense.

"That was important. We needed to do that. It was good to get that on the field and get that on the film."

The playing time for the Colts defense on Saturday night hovered around 20 plays, with starters trickling out of the lineup at different times.

Greg Manusky's starting unit had a solid evening from a situational standpoint, considering the Bears started their first four drives at their own 40, 49, 37 and 42 yard lines.

One of the bigger tests for the Colts defense on Saturday came against Bears Pro Bowl running back Matt Forte.

The Colts limited Forte to just 24 rushing yards on his eight carries.

With starters on each team playing about a half on Saturday, the Colts defense held the Bears to 0-for-5 on third-down and 0-for-2 in their two red-zone trips.

"Good situational defense, held them in the red area, forced field goals, which was good to see," Pagano said of the defensive positives.

"There were some good things to draw on, once we look at this tape, coming out of this game."

Cornerback Greg Toler suffered the loan injury (neck strain) from any Colts starter on Saturday night. Rookie Phillip Dorsett, an undeniable key contributor in 2015, left with a knee bruise and will be day-to-day.

Pagano and the Colts starters will now turn their attention to Week Three of the preseason and a trip to St. Louis.

The matchup with the Rams will surely test the Colts pass blocking, with St. Louis having arguably the game's top defensive line.

In St. Louis, the Colts starters will likely play into the third quarter, in what is typically the last playing time they receive in the preseason.

After a three-day week of work with the Bears, Luck assessed his satisfaction of the Colts work.

"We've got two more preseason games and got to get better as we go," Luck said following the Colts preseason home opener.

"We're on the right track. We're in a great spot. I don't think anybody offensively, defensively, special teams is satisfied with where we are. We'll continue to get better. It was a great week of work vs. the Bears. I think that'll pay dividends, the practice and this game as well. Just keep grinding and keep working."

Photos from the first home preseason game of 2015, against the Chicago Bears.

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