First Impressions: Colts Defeat The Bengals

Colts.com’s Andrew Walker takes a closer look at the Indianapolis Colts’ 27-26 victory over the Cincinnati Bengals in their preseason Week 4 matchup Thursday night at Paul Brown Stadium.

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Indianapolis Colts running back Branden Oliver (40) runs in for a touchdown during the second half of an NFL preseason football game against the Cincinnati Bengals, Thursday, Aug. 30, 2018, in Cincinnati. (AP Photo/Frank Victores)

CINCINNATI — The Indianapolis Colts on Thursday defeated the Cincinnati Bengals, 27-26, in their preseason Week 4 matchup at Paul Brown Stadium.

What's top of mind for the Colts after concluding preseason play with a 3-1 record?

FIRST IMPRESSIONS

Simply put: jobs were on the line for those taking part in Thursday night's preseason finale between the Colts and Bengals.

With the rosters being chopped from 90 to 53 players by 4 p.m. ET on Saturday — and with most of the starters not playing for either team — those left to battle it out were hoping to make one more final lasting impression, if not on their own teams, then on the 31 other teams across the league.

Head coach Frank Reich said his players were certainly making the decision-making process tough on the Colts, who are trying to nail down their roster heading into their 2018 regular season opener, also against the Bengals on Sept. 9 at Lucas Oil Stadium.

That likely didn't change on Saturday, as several players who could very well be considered "on the bubble" seemed to flash throughout the contest — guys like wide receiver Zach Pascal or defensive end Ryan Delaire, to name a couple.

And now, we wait. As always, keep it tuned to Colts.com and @Colts on Twitter for all the latest official news on the team's moves this weekend.

REVEALING MOMENT

Branden Oliver was able to get a little redemption on Thursday night.

His very first carry of the preseason turned into a fumble on a handoff at the 9:12 mark of the second quarter, which the Bengals recovered deep in Indianapolis territory and would turn into an eventual touchdown. Not ideal.

But at the 13:47 mark of the third quarter, Oliver turned on the jets — using some nice blocks up front, too — and blew past the Bengals' defense to the tune of a 32-yard run, getting the ball inside the red zone to the 14. Four plays later, Oliver punched it in the end zone from two yards out for a touchdown.

PLAY OF THE GAME

Zach Pascal has had a heck of an audition for a spot on the Colts' 53-man roster, and that was met with an exclamation point on Thursday.

At the 12:14 mark of the second quarter, the Colts got all the way down to the Cincinnati two-yard line, but were facing a 3rd and Goal situation. Quarterback Jacoby Brissett, lined up in the shotgun, got the snap and fired a quick pass across the middle towards Pascal, who ran a quick slant from the left side of the field.

Despite being blanketed in coverage, the pass was on target, and Pascal made the tough catch in traffic to hold on for his second touchdown reception of the preseason.

It was just more of the same from Pascal, who was making tough catches in traffic throughout training camp.

Was it enough to earn a spot on the Week 1 roster? We'll see.

UNSUNG HERO

George Odum is another young player that has made the upcoming decision-making process extremely tough on the Colts.

The undrafted rookie out of Central Arkansas caught the coaches' eyes plenty during spring practices by logging multiple interceptions and other takeaways, and he continued to make plays through training camp.

Last Saturday, Odum had the game-sealing interception to wrap up the Colts' preseason victory over the San Francisco 49ers, and tonight, tasked with playing pretty much the whole game, Odum continued to shine.

The safety had a team-best-tying seven tackles and also forced a fumble that he nearly recovered, too, as he tried to tip toe to remain in-bounds on a play late in the third quarter on tight end Mason Schreck.

Injuries at the safety position to T.J. Green and Ronald Martin, coupled with Odum's performance, have created quite an interesting predicament for the Colts

INJURY REPORT

• Running back Christine Michael was evaluated for a concussion during Thursday's game and was cleared to return.

• Defensive end Tarell Basham was diagnosed with a knee injury and was questionable to return.

• Safety Chris Cooper and cornerback Robert Jackson also walked off the field with trainers; their injury statuses were not announced.

WHAT'S NEXT

That's it for preseason play. Now, the Colts must get down to their 53-man roster — and quickly. The 32 teams across the NFL have until 4 p.m. ET on Saturday to cut down their 90-man offseason/preseason rosters to 53, and then have until noon on Sunday to put in claims on waived players, as well as formulate their 10-man practice squads. The next time the Colts are in action will be Sept. 9 at Lucas Oil Stadium, when they take on the Bengals in their 2018 regular season opener.

The Colts wrapped up the 2018 preseason in Cincinnati.

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