INDIANAPOLIS – The Training Camp portion of the Colts offseason is in the books with a fourth preseason game, tonight at 7:00 p.m. in Cincinnati, remaining before the regular season.
It's the last dress rehearsal for the 75 Colts players fighting for one of the 53 spots on the team's final roster.
What should fans be looking for when the Colts take on the Bengals in Week Four of the preseason?
1. Playing Time For Starters
-Chuck Pagano wouldn't reveal how much the Colts starters are playing on Thursday but it's a safe bet those reps won't be many. Andrew Luck has played just four career snaps in preseason finales (all in 2012). If many of the starters are held out on Thursday, expect a pretty extensive warmup session from that group at Paul Brown Stadium.
2. Makeup Of Interior Line
-Pagano did mention on Tuesday that the interior of the line "has to play" some in Cincinnati. Seeing Jack Mewhort play on Saturday and then practice all week following the game was a nice sign. Khaled Holmes, Jonotthan Harrison and Hugh Thornton all sat out Tuesday's practice so who plays/starts in that interior will be interesting to watch on Thursday.
3. Finding Another Pass Rusher
-Robert Mathis' suspension begins on Saturday afternoon so Thursday is the last chance the staff will get to evaluate what they have at pass rusher in a game setting. Behind Erik Walden and Bjoern Werner, guys like Cam Johnson and Jonathan Newsome have flashed off the edge. It would be nice to see that continue on Thursday with those guys reps increasing.
4. Undrafted Free Agents Impressing
-In each of the last 15 years, the Colts have had an undrafted free agent on their opening day roster. That's the longest streak in the NFL and there's a good chance that continues in 2014. A few UDFAs that I will be watching on Thursday include Zach Kerr, Zurlon Tipton, Loucheiz Purifoy and Dewey McDonald.
5. Can Chandler Harnish Lead The Colts To A Win?
-For the Colts third-teamers, last week was a stark improvement from the disappointing fourth quarter in Week Two against the Giants. Harnish has been the guy at quarterback in the fourth preseason game the last two years and wants nothing more than to build off last week's momentum and turn that into the Colts first win of the 2014 preseason.
6. Lasting Impressions
-A final, 60-minute audition is what awaits players on Thursday night. If you look at the box scores of the last two preseason finales, guys that make an impression have typically found themselves on the Colts roster at some point that season. Don't think for a second that the Colts staff won't be evaluating all the way up until the final whistle on Thursday.
7. What's Next
-It will be a quiet bus ride home on Thursday night as guys ponder if they did enough to move into that elusive 53-man group. Final cuts from 75 to 53 are due by 4:00 p.m. EST on Saturday. Last year, the Colts were one of the last NFL teams to make their final cuts. A 10-man practice squad will be made up on Sunday.