INDIANAPOLIS – In what will be an ideal setting for a regular season contest, two playoff teams will meet at Lucas Oil Stadium on Saturday night.
The Colts and Saints kickoff at 8:00 p.m. on Saturday, playing in front of a nationally televised audience on CBS.
What should fans be looking for when the Colts take on the Saints in Week Three of the preseason?
1. Running Game Predicament
-"Would love to run the ball better." Those words, spoken by Andrew Luck, sum up what the offense is primarily trying to improve on in their third preseason game. The Colts starting units have been very impressive in their first two preseason contests with the lone missing part being a consistent rushing attack. The offensive line still won't be complete on Saturday night but Trent Richardson, and possibly Ahmad Bradshaw, should get extended time to get into a rhythm on the ground.
2. Status Of Wayne, Bradshaw
-Those two veterans have yet to make their preseason debuts and we really don't have any concrete answers on if they will play on Saturday. Bradshaw (has practiced all week) and Wayne have stated their desires to play at some point this month in trying to test out their rehab work from season-ending injuries. We won't see Mathis on Saturday and that probably means No. 98 won't be back on the field again until October 5. With what you've got to start the regular season (two elite passing teams), you understand why the Colts coaches have held Mathis from the majority of first team work throughout camp.
3. Final Dress Rehearsal
-Based off last year's preseason finale, Saturday night will be the last run the starters get until the regular season opener on September 7. The starters have played about five-to-six drives together this preseason but the small sample size is encouraging. They will probably double those series on Saturday before preparations for Denver begin in earnest next week.
4. Staying Healthy
-Obviously MUCH easier said than done. Chuck Pagano led off his post game presser after the Giants game by talking about the pleasant surprise of escaping a contest with 90 players injury free. If they can say that this time next week, that will be a very happy coaching staff after how Training Camp started from a health standpoint.
*5. Playoff Type Test *
-The Colts couldn't have asked for a better blueprint in their third preseason game. Drew Brees will bring his elite, video game type numbers into Lucas Oil Stadium to test the Colts secondary. The Saints passing attack is right on par with that of Denver or Philadelphia, so Saturday night is a perfect barometer for what the Colts will experience to kickoff the regular season.
6. Defending Jimmy Graham
-Jimmy Graham was a mentor for Erik Swoope during the offseason but the Saints tight end will be a nuisance for the Colts defense on Saturday night. How the Colts choose to defend Graham will be interesting to watch considering the tight end likes of Julius Thomas, Rob Gronkowski and Jason Witten on the regular season schedule.
7. Happy Bunch Of Undrafted Guys
-Those fringe roster players will probably only get about a quarter of work on Saturday night. The good news for them though is earlier this week the NFL announced that practice squads will increase to 10 players (from 8) this season. The first round of cuts comes on Tuesday so that fourth quarter will be the last audition for 15 players on the Colts roster.