INDIANAPOLIS – The Colts final preseason contest of 2015 will come Thursday night at Lucas Oil Stadium.
At 7:00 p.m. EST on Thursday, the Colts and Bengals will meet for a contest filled with plenty of roster implications, as final cuts loom.
What should fans be looking for when the Colts welcome the Bengals to Lucas Oil Stadium on Thursday night?
1. Final Chance
-Playing time is going to be immense on Thursday for those backend of the roster guys. Chuck Pagano was adamant earlier this week in the type of impact Thursday night can have in filling out a roster. Make a significant impression on Thursday and you might go from outside the 53-number to the right side of the bubble.
2. Special Teams
-The Colts are in a full-on search for special teams contributors in 2015. Thursday night is another opportunity for those guys to show enough merit to keep around. If a guy proves he can play on all four special teams units, his value could definitely be worthwhile to earn a roster spot.
3. Vick Ballard's Health
-Usually, health isn't too much of a concern in Week Four of the preseason, with starters hardly playing. The health of Vick Ballard is though. Ballard has played just eight snaps this preseason, his only game action in more than 700 days. After missing last week's contest with a hamstring injury, Ballard would be served quite well to get on the field on Thursday night. The Colts staff loves Ballard, but his health is causing quite a numbers crunch at running back.
4. Starters Workout
-If you want to see the Colts starters on Thursday night there's a good chance you are going to have to get to Lucas Oil Stadium right when the gates open. In past preseason finales, the on-the-field work for starters comes in warmups, before sitting out the game. There's been no indication that will change on this year.
*5. Any Starters Play? *
-Having said that above, it wouldn't shock me if a couple of guys you saw play on Thursday ended up starting in Week One. Is the competition at nose tackle still ongoing between Josh Chapman, David Parry and Zach Kerr? Does rookie cornerback D'Joun Smith need more reps in case Greg Toler can't go in Week One?
6. Robert Mathis, Nate Irving Ready?
-Both Robert Mathis and Nate Irving are back practicing. They both say they will be ready Week One. Do they need any action on Thursday night? There has been nothing said one way or another of their availability for Thursday but it would probably be a bit of a surprise if either of them saw time.
7. Cut Time
-When the final gun sounds on Thursday night, the countdown will begin to Saturday at 4:00 p.m. EST. By then, the Colts will have to part ways with 22 guys to reach the mandated number of 53. Even for those final few guys who do make the 53-man roster, that spot is not necessarily secure with the waiver wire Saturday/Sunday always having some enticing options to add quality bodies.