One Big Storyline
The Colts and Lions will not play the vast majority of their starters in Saturday's game, with this week's two physical, competitive – and controlled – joint practices producing plenty of quality work.
On Thursday, the Colts and Lions used joint practice to work on some specific scenarios – two-minute, red zone, goal-to-go, fourth down – that wouldn't be guaranteed to happen in a game.
"You just get so many more and you can control what situations you get," head coach Frank Reich said. "You don't always get every situation in a game. But when you practice against a team, we can make sure to get the situations that we know we need work on. That is the advantage. From a count wise, the ones probably got about 20 plays (Wednesday) and probably about 20-some (Thursday), or if you count the seven-on-seven more than that. That's good work for both sides of the ball."
We have all the highlights of practice in Wednesday and Thursday's Postcards from Camp. And after those consecutive days of intense, competitive practices, both the Colts and Lions don't see a need to play their starters on Saturday.
"I thought we got good work in the pass game, I thought guys made plays, which is what you want to see," quarterback Matt Ryan said. "You put balls up and you try and put it in spots for them to be successful. We came down with a handful of them. I thought our guys did a good job. It is fun competing. This is why we do it, to go against other teams, to see where you're at from that standpoint. There's always just a little extra juice than when you're going against your own guys and that part of it is really fun."
5 Things To Watch
- A big day for Bernhard Raimann. The rookie tackle played a team-high 48 snaps in the Colts' preseason opener against the Buffalo Bills, and the team was pleased with the work and experience he gained last weekend. While Raimann probably won't go against Lions defensive ends Aiden Hutchinson and Charles Harris on Saturday, the snaps he'll likely get will be invaluable for the physical, athletic third-round pick's growth and development.
- Mike Strachan's preseason debut. Strachan was removed from the PUP list on Monday and participated in practices Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday – and was heavily involved in the offense in joint practices with the Lions, catching a number of passes from Nick Foles throughout the week. The 6-foot-5, 224 pound 2021 seventh-round pick still has an opportunity to make the Colts' roster; if he's the team's No. 5 receiver, he'll likely need to contribute on special teams, so keep an eye on that in addition to how he plays within the offense.
- An opportunity at tight end. Drew Ogletree's heartbreaking season-ending ACL injury removed a guy from the Colts' offense who had carved out a role in it over three weeks of training camp. The Colts will have to adjust as an offense – but can another tight end step in for what Ogletree was doing? Keep an eye on how much third-round pick Jelani Woods plays, as well as the other young tight ends in the room – undrafted free agent Nikola Kalinic and converted basketball player Michael Jacobson – who will have a "next man up" opportunity on Saturday.
- The plan at quarterback. Veteran backup Nick Foles will play about a quarter, Reich said, with Sam Ehlinger playing roughly a quarter to a quarter and a half and then giving way to Jack Coan to finish the game. Currently, though, there is not a backup quarterback competition. "Right now, Matt is No. 1, Nick is No. 2, Sam is No. 3 and Jack is No. 4," Reich said. "I feel confident in that. Nick has really had a long, established career as a starter and as a backup. But really love what Sam has done in preseason and love the game he had yesterday."
- Cornerback depth. Behind the quartet of Kenny Moore II/Stephon Gilmore/Brandon Facyson/Isaiah Rodgers, there's plenty of competition to see who earns a spot (or spots) on the Colts' 53-man roster. More experienced players like Tony Brown, Anthony Chesley, Marvell Tell III and Chris Wilcox are in the mix, as is undrafted free agent Dallis Flowers. That group looks to be in like to get plenty of playing time on Saturday, both on defense and special teams.