INDIANAPOLIS – After two days of joint practices this past week, the Colts and Bears will speed things up a bit on Saturday night.
Week Two of the preseason pits the Colts and Bears meeting at Lucas Oil Stadium on Saturday night for a 7:30 p.m. EST kickoff (airing locally on FOX 59 and on the radio dial at 1070 The Fan).
What should fans be looking for when the Colts have their preseason opener against the Bears?
1. Stopping Matt Forte?
-Bears Pro Bowl running back Matt Forte is expected to make his preseason debut on Saturday night. This will be a great test for the Colts run defense as Forte is still one of the game's premier running backs. Unlike the practices earlier this week, Saturday night is obviously completely live so we will see what the Colts starting defense looks like for around a quarter or two.
2. Handling Bears Front
-In the snaps we saw last Sunday in Philadelphia, the Colts offensive line gave Andrew Luck and Matt Hasselbeck plenty of time to operate. The Bears will try and change that on Saturday with some talented edge rushers. It will be another evaluation for right tackle Jack Mewhort, with the league's top defensive line coming next week (St. Louis).
3. Offensive Cohesion
-Against the Eagles, the Colts first-team offense didn't have the services of Frank Gore, Boom Herron, T.Y. Hilton or Donte Moncrief. We have seen everyone but Herron practicing this week. Does Gore get some run on Saturday? In the last three preseasons, Gore has received a total of 11 carries (no more than four carries in any of the preseasons).
4. Vick Ballard's Return
-It likely won't come until after halftime on Saturday but it's going to be great to see Vick Ballard back on the field. Ballard's expected playing time on Saturday night will be his first game action since the 2013 season opener. Putting the sentimental value aside, Ballard's return Saturday is critical for himself trying to ultimately make the Colts roster.
5. Truer Evaluation
-If past Week Two preseason games hold to form, Colts starters should log playing time into the second quarter versus Chicago. Combine the extra starting playing time with the Bears providing a system typical around the NFL (unlike Philadelphia), Saturday night will give the Colts staff a better evaluation of what they have this season.
6. Rookie Impact
-In last week's preseason opener, both Josh Robinson and David Parry more than flashed. That turned into first-team reps for Parry during this week's practice. What will the rookies show in Week Two? The second half on Saturday night will be a key time for the rookies to shine. Roster cuts come a week from Tuesday, and with starters playing even more in Week Three of the preseason, the second half Saturday will be the last substantial playing time those backend of the roster guys will receive this preseason.
7. More Daniel Adongo
-The Daniel Adongo experiment took a major step forward last Sunday. For the first time in his NFL career, Adongo played on defense. He logged 28 defensive snaps (two quarterback hurries and one tackle) and defensive coordinator Greg Manusky was pleased with the explosion and power displayed by the former rugby star. Stringing those outings together is the next order of business in Adongo's incredible journey.