ANDERSON – It's finally time to hit somebody else.
After two weeks in Anderson, the Colts are taking their product out east to take on the New York Jets.
What should fans be looking for when the Colts and Jets meet on tonight at 7:00 p.m.?
1. Playing Time For Starters
-I would be very surprised to see the entire starting unit play longer than about 10-12 plays on Thursday night. Last year in the preseason opener, starters like Andrew Luck, Vick Ballard and Reggie Wayne logged just 10 snaps. Some of the interior line spots might see a little longer run on Thursday, with those spots not written in stone. Chuck Pagano has already said that Reggie Wane will not play in the opener and I'd expect several veterans to join 87 on the sideline.
2. Interior Line Play
-Thursday night will be a stern test for the Colts youthful interior line. The Jets had the league's top rush defense in 2013 (3.35 yards per rush attempt) and are particularly stout in the middle. Sheldon Richardson (2013 Defensive Rookie of the Year) and Muhammad Wilkerson (2013 All-Pro Second Team) make up one of the best young defensive line duos. For the limited snaps of 1s against 1s, the Colts offense will have its hands full with Rex Ryan's 3-4 defensive scheme.
3. The Makeup Of The Secondary
-When the Colts hit the practice field earlier this week we finally saw the pieces of a potential starting secondary. Vontae Davis and LaRon Landry practiced on Monday and Tuesday this week, with their reps ramping up each day. While their availability for Thursday is up in the air, there's going to be plenty of chances for some backups to make an impression on the Colts coaching staff. Remember, the preseason opener last year was a game where Delano Howell played 90 defensive snaps and received extremely high praise from Pagano.
4. Finding Edge Rushers
-The star of last year's preseason was Caesar Rayford. The former Arena Football Leaguer recorded five sacks in the preseason and the Colts eventually traded him to the Cowboys for a conditional pick. Finding another edge rusher in the 2014 preseason would be huge for the Colts. Bjoern Werner and Jonathan Newsome have been impressive in the two weeks of Training Camp. If the Colts can find a consistent pass rush threat over the next four weeks, that would make opposing offensive coordinators during the month of September have to think twice about where to slide protection.
5. Defending Dual-Threat Quarterbacks
-The Colts will see Geno Smith and Michael Vick under center on Thursday night. Both can impact the game with their legs and that will be a nice change of pace compared to the non dual-threat quarterbacks the Colts will see the rest of the preseason. With guys like Jake Locker, Robert Griffin III, and…uh…Johnny Manziel possibly on the schedule this year, the Colts will have a bit of a warmup in trying to defend those types of quarterbacks, something they did a solid job of in 2013.
6. Daniel Adongo's Defensive Debut
-Does Thursday night mark the defensive debut for Daniel Adongo? It might not come in the opening quarter, but I will be keeping my eyes glued to see if/when No. 56 lines up at his outside linebacker position. Adongo has ran with the Colts defense throughout Training Camp and his presence as even ignited some chippiness among offensive linemen. Will we see the same Adongo in an actual defensive setting?
7. Backend Of the Roster
-Tuesday's final practice prior to the preseason opener saw a ton of reps for second and third teamers. That's a precursor for Thursday night. Guys on the backend of the roster realize that Thursday night is a massive chance to make an impression on the Colts staff. Weeks Two and Three in the preseason is where starters get extended run, so a big emphasis is placed on the opener for backups. The cut from 90-to-75 comes on Tuesday, August 26, which is two days before the preseason finale in Cincinnati.
A candid look at training camp through the eyes of the Colts photographer!