Roby's Long Return Gives Colts Their Only Points in 2008 Preseason Finale
INDIANAPOLIS – A hometown kid made his case for a roster spot on Thursday night, doing so in breakaway, memorable fashion.
Now, he said, it's time to wait.
Courtney Roby, who played high school football in Indianapolis and college football at Indiana University, made a final move for the Colts' kickoff return specialist position on Thursday night, turning in two long kickoff returns in the team's 27-7 loss to the Cincinnati Bengals in the 2008 preseason finale at Lucas Oil Stadium.
One of the returns, a 103-yarder, gave the Colts their only points Thursday.
"I just try to go out there and do what I'm coached to do," Roby said. "My job is to make sure I can go hard and make sure my blockers don't have to stay on the blocks long. I really give credit to my blockers. They've given me some nice holes.
"I've been fortunate enough to hit them right."
In the days leading to the Colts' final preseason game, Colts Head Coach Tony Dungy said one of the primary issues still facing the team was determining a return specialist. Roby, a veteran free-agent signee, was one of several players who had returned kickoffs for the Colts this preseason.
Roby, who attended North Central High School in Indianapolis, played collegiately at the University of Indiana, playing for the Tennessee Titans in 2005-2006 before signing with the Colts as a free agent in the off-season.
Entering the preseason finale, Roby had caught five passes for 99 yards and led the Colts with six kickoff returns, on which he averaged 27.8 yards.
Roby on Thursday returned the opening kickoff 45 yards. After rookie Pierre Garcon returned the next Bengals kickoff 19 yards, Roby re-entered the game and returned the next kickoff 22 yards.
With the Colts trailing 17-0, Roby took his third kickoff three yards deep in the end zone. He started up the middle and after avoiding the first line of coverage, ran untouched into the end zone for a 103-yard touchdown.
"Courtney has been dynamic on the returns and has done a good job," Dungy said. "He also has given us great coverage work as a gunner on punts and kickoff coverage. He's doing an excellent job."
SITTING IT OUT: As expected, most Colts frontline players did not play against the Bengals Thursday, with 14 ruled out before kickoff.
That list included quarterback Peyton Manning, defensive end Dwight Freeney and safety Bob Sanders, a trio with a combined 13 Pro Bowl selections.
The 14 players ruled out via coaching decision or by injury before the game:
Quarterback Jim Sorgi, cornerback Kelvin Hayden, safety Melvin Bullitt, safety Matt Giordano, linebacker Freddy Keiaho, linebacker Tyjuan Hagler, defensive end Curtis Johnson, center Jeff Saturday, offensive guard Ryan Lilja, offensive guard Mike Pollak, defensive end Raheem Brock, defensive end Marcus Howard, defensive end Robert Mathis and defensive tackle Ed Johnson.
Other usual starters who did not play: running back Joseph Addai, wide receiver Reggie Wayne, wide receiver Marvin Harrison, tight end Dallas Clark, offensive tackle Tony Ugoh, offensive tackle Ryan Diem, offensive guard Charlie Johnson, middle linebacker Gary Brackett, safety Antoine Bethea and cornerback Marlin Jackson.
NEW LOOK TO THE LINEUP: With most starters not playing, the Colts' starting lineup had a decidedly unfamiliar look Sunday.
The offensive starters:
Quarterback Quinn Gray, running back Kenton Keith, tight end Gijon Robinson, wide receiver Devin Aromashodu, wide receiver Courtney Roby, tackle Michael Toudouze, guard Tala Esera, center Steve Justice, guard Corey Hilliard and tackle Darren Marquez.
The defensive starters:
End Josh Thomas, tackle Colin Farrell, tackle Eric Foster, end Ben Ishola, linebacker Philip Wheeler, linebacker Ramon Guzman, linebacker Jordan Senn, cornerback Keiwan Ratliff, cornerback Tim Jennings, safety Brannon Condren and safety Jamie Silva.
JUSTICE SERVED: With Saturday out with a knee injury, rookie Steve Justice – a sixth-round selection in the 2008 NFL Draft – started at center against the Bengals and played throughout.
"Steve, I think, did a pretty good job," Dungy said. "We've got a lot of options. We're really going to wait and see how long Jeff is going to be before we really finalize those things. We have some veteran guys who can play in there."
Said Justice, "It kind of reminded me of college, not really rotating, just staying out there the whole game and really playing center instead of playing guard and center. With all the injuries we've gotten, you never know when your number is going to be called. You have to be prepared. You have to be ready every single day, every single down. We don't know who's going to be the starting center, so we're coming in this week prepared for anything."
ALL DONE: Dungy said he doubts the Colts will practice again in Lucas Oil Stadium before the regular-season opener against Chicago September 7.
The Colts practiced in the retractable-roof, state-of-the-art facility once – on the morning of August 19 – and have played two preseason games there in the last five days.
"We had our one day here," Dungy said. "We've done everything at night. We really don't have a 1 p.m. game for a while. We've got the night game. We have a 4 o'clock game. We've seen it with the roof opened and closed, so I think we've done what we needed to do."
HOW THEY SCORED
BENGALS 07 10 03 07 – 27
COLTS 00 07 00 00 – 07
BENGALS 7, COLTS 0
Chris Perry 5 run (Shayne Graham kick), 1:56 remaining first quarter. Drive: 21 plays, 80 yards, 11:22. Key play: Ryan Fitzpatrick 10 run on 3rd-and-10 from Bengals 20.
BENGALS 14, COLTS 0
James Blair 9 pass from Fitzpatrick (Graham kick), 14:54 remaining second quarter. Drive: Three plays, 10 yards, 1:08. Key play: Domata Peko forces and recovers fumble at Colts 10.
BENGALS 17, COLTS 0
Graham 46 FG, 3:50 remaining second quarter. Drive: Six plays, 36 yards, 2:43. Key play: Nate Lawrie 30 pass from Jeff Roe on 2nd-and-8 from Bengals 38.
BENGALS 17, COLTS 7
Courtney Roby 103 kickoff return (Adam Vinatieri kick), 3:39 remaining second quarter.
BENGALS 20, COLTS 7
Graham 30 FG, 6:28 remaining third quarter. Drive: Nine plays, 38 yards, 4:45. Key play: Jordan Palmer 15 run on 3rd-and-8 from Colts 36.
BENGALS 27, COLTS 7
DeDe Dorsey 6 run (Graham kick), 14:56 remaining fourth quarter. Drive: Four plays, 33 yards, 1:12. Key play: Kyries Hebert 13 interception return gives Bengals 1st-and-10 at Colts 33.