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Colts-Eagles preview: One last tune-up before 2023 regular season begins

Anthony Richardson and several Colts starters will play Thursday night against the Philadelphia Eagles at Lincoln Financial Field. 


PHILADELPHIA – When the Colts return to Indianapolis following Thursday night's preseason finale against the Philadelphia Eagles, they'll have 16 days separating them from Sept. 10's season opener against the Jacksonville Jaguars at Lucas Oil Stadium.

That's both quite a bit of time and not much time at all, in a sense. There's time for the Colts to get refreshed, both mentally and physically, ahead of the grind of an 18-week season. But there's also not much time left for players competing to make the roster to make their case.

And Thursday night's matchup with the Eagles at Lincoln Financial Field will be, crucially, one last opportunity for rookie quarterback Anthony Richardson to test himself ahead of his playing-for-keeps NFL debut against the Jaguars.

"It's just more reps," Richardson said. "That's all it is for me, more reps. Just trying to grind and eat away at greatness day by day by getting more reps against a great team."

Thursday night marks the end of an important 12-day stretch for Richardson. It began Aug. 12 in Buffalo, where he started and played the first quarter against the Bills at Highmark Stadium. Richardson was named the Colts' starting quarterback for the 2023 season a few days later, then got some high-quality work in consecutive two-hour joint practices with the Chicago Bears at Grand Park. While Richardson didn't play in the Colts' second preseason game, he faced a different defense in Tuesday's joint practice with the Eagles. Then he'll take the field Thursday night in south Philly.

Got all that? The short version: These two games and three joint practices represented a tremendous opportunity for Richardson to grow ahead of the curtain lifting on his rookie season.

"It's the way I can adjust to different personnel and different players because just practicing with different people, it's a little different," Richardson said. "Not seeing Zaire (Franklin) and Kenny Moore II out there every single day, you have to study different guys and just study how they play. Just seeing different people in there, it lets me know what I have to correct myself and the things that I'm also good at."

For Richardson and the starters who play Thursday, the game will be about getting those final reps in before the focus shifts to Jacksonville. For plenty of players who tag into the game after the first-team offense and defense exits, it'll be about making their final case for both roster spots and their pecking order on the depth chart.

"Just competition more than anything," head coach Shane Steichen said of what he's looking for on Thursday. "We're going to have to make some tough decisions next week and got to go compete and make sure as coaches and front office, and make us make some tough decisions and make it hard on us."

The Colts had their first practice of training camp four weeks ago. We're now one game away from the preseason ending. In a few days, the Colts' initial 53-man roster will come out. And then preparations for the Jaguars – as in, actual gameplanning – will begin.

We're almost there. Sixteen days from now is right around the corner.

"Finish off the preseason on Thursday and let's get back to the regular season," linebacker Zaire Franklin said, "because everybody seems ready for that."

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