The preseason came to merciful end last night with a 30-28 loss to the Bengals. The Colts wrapped up the preseason at 0-4. Let's put a bow on this month of misery, shall we? Last night's game had several encouraging signs:
- The D line played well in the first half, largely against the Bengals starters. Ervin Baldwin made some plays and particularly encouraging was the play of Jerry Hughes. Hughes has struggled to acclimate to pro-style blocking schemes, but what we all wanted to see was some hint of his talent. We certainly saw that in the first half. Hughes first step was astounding. He did a good job getting pressure on several plays. I'm not so worried as to whether or not he did everything right. The question is: is the raw talent in there? After a quiet preseason, Hughes showed the speed and quickness the Colts drafted him for. If he gets more than three sacks this year, I'll be surprised. It's going to take time.
- Moala looks a lot better this year. The Colts largely shut down the Bengals run game in the first half. Guys tend to make a jump in year two, and I'm guessing he takes a big step forward.
- Curtis Painter continued to look vaguely reasonable as a back up. Painter has been victimized by a lot of dropped passes which depressed his stats. He has a tendency to stare down receivers, which isn't unusual for a guy so young. Still he throws a nice deep ball, and against more front line players for Bengals, he resembled a professional quarterback. It's not exactly high praise, but I'm grading on a curve. The most impressive thrown was a roll out on the run dart to White along the sideline. That's not a play everyone can make. The Colts have shown every indication of being committed to him, and I'm more comfortable with him than I was a month ago. If it's not Painter it's because someone not on the roster became available.
- Brandstander had a nice cup of coffee toward the end of the game, throwing three touchdown passes. It's basically meaningless, but it should help him land a practice squad job or employment somewhere in football. He was playing against other guys that are going to get cut. It's conceivable the Colts keep him and dump Painter, but extremely unlikely. They didn't treat last night's game like an open audition. Getting hung up on stats at the end of the last preseason game isn't a formula for accuracy in judging rosters.
- Humbler played well and Angerer again led the team in tackles. Something tells me Angerer is going to be a guy who ends up playing a key role on this team before the year is out. Something is going to happen to thrust this kid into the spot light, and my bet is that he handles himself well.
- The return game is going to be mediocre. Of all the returners, I actually like Fisher the best. Moore strikes me as "Chad Simpson Part Two: Return of the Touchback". That's not so much of a prediction as it is a wish.
- Lambert had played well earlier in preseason, but got BURNT more than once last night.
- Blair White will have a job somewhere next week. It might not be on an NFL roster, but he'll make a practice squad. I hope it's ours. I don't know that he has the top end speed necessary, but he clearly knows how to play football.
- Does Mike Hart make this team? We all love him. The coaches love him. That's fine. He's slow. Crazy, crazy slow. If he gets cut I won't be surprised. I hope not, but I won't be surprised.
- No one even noticed the officials.
- To my knowledge no one important got hurt.
It's over. In just a few days we'll see some real action. I for one, can't wait.
Bring on the Texans. IT'S GAME TIME!