Tonight (Friday, August 19) at 7 PM (EST), the Colts will open their first home game of the 2011 season.
Yeah, it's just preseason, and the Colts won't care about it, and fans will, and people will be frustrated, and the game will get over analyzed, and Painter will likely suck, and people will call for his head, but it's still a Colts' home game!
The Colts beat the Redskins in last year's matchup, winning 27-24, with Aaron "I can't support the run to save my life" Francisco coming up with the heroic interception to ice the game. However, that game resulted in Dallas Clark obtaining a "relatively rare injury" in his wrist, resulting in season-ending surgery. For that, I eternally curse the Redskins.
No need to dwell in the past though (grumble grumble), so we move to tonight's game!The game will take place at 7 o'clock, eastern time, at the Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis.
Here is the media schedule for the game: Washington feed: Comcast Sportsnet Washington, DC: WRC 4 (NBC) Norfolk, VA: WTKR 3 (CBS) Richmond, VA: WRIC 8 (ABC) Roanoke, VA: WSLS 10 (NBC) Indianapolis feed: Indianapolis, IN: WNDY My23 Springfield, IL: WCFN My49 Evansville, IN: WEHT 25 (ABC) South Bend, IN: WBND 57 (ABC) Terre Haute, IN: WTHI 10 (CBS) Louisville, KY: WMYO My58 NFLN re-air: Sun, 4:00 PM ET
The game will can be listened to via radio on 1070 The Fan or Sirius XM Radio 134. The Redskins are looking at several quarterbacks as they go into the season, namely John Beck and Colts' fan favorite Rex Grossman. Yes, Rex Grossman may still have a starting job in the NFL. That is not a joke, you read that correctly.
The 'Skins will also be looking at several rookies, including Purdue DE Ryan Kerrigan, who some Hoosiers may be interested in watching. Washington is trying to convert him to an OLB, so that'll be interesting. But, who really cares about what the Redskins are watching? They're going to be terrible anyway, and they have to play the Dream Team twice this year.
While we shouldn't over analyze the preseason, especially the Colts' preseason (you know, since we're not the Patriots and leave our starters in for the entire first half), we can still take individual performances as somewhat accurate assessments. So, who to look for in tonight's game?
- Anthony Castonzo
The Colts' highly touted first round draft pick was moved into the starting lineup this week, and it will be important to judge his performance this week against starters. Coltsider writers Justin Knox and Kyle Mason both thought that Castonzo was decent in the first preseason game against the Rams but this week will be his first game against NFL starters. He'll likely be facing Kerrigan (LOLB) or former first round pick Adam Kerriker (LE). If he does well, it will bode well for a start on September 11th.
- Rest of the offensive line
The rest of the line will be under scrutiny as well, as the coaching staff try to find the best mix of players to protect Manning during the season. LG Joe Reitz was also moved into the starting lineup this week, watch him to see how he does with the first team. On the right side of the line, Ryan Diem will start at guard, and Jeff Linkenbach at tackle. We know roughly what we'll get from Link, but Diem hasn't played guard since his rookie year. Benjamin Ijalana, Mike Pollak, and Jacques McClendon will all be worth watching on on the reserves. Ijalana needs to prove he can take over the right tackle spot from Linkenbach before the regular season starts. Pollak and McClendon are still fighting for a starting spot on the line. I'm especially interested in watching Pollak. While many Colts' fans have seemed to give up on him, I think he's better than many people give him credit for.
- Reserve Running Backs
While Joseph Addai has the starting spot locked down, the other RB spots aren't quite as certain. Donald Brown had a good game last week behind the new OL, look for him to build on the improvement with another strong performance. Delone Carter was decent, showing good speed and vision, but failed to move the pile on one 4th and 1 situation. See if he can hit the line with a little more power this week. The final RB spot will likely be between Chad Spann and Darren Evans. Spann needs to be better in the return game, as he muffed two kickoffs last week. It will be interesting if either of them can supplant Devin Moore.
- Defensive Line
There were a few bright spots on the line last week, but overall, it was outmatched by the Rams, who kept their starters and 2nd stringers in much longer than the Colts. See if Drake Nevis can impress again, as well as keeping an eye on Fili Moala and Tommie Harris. Also look for newcomer Tyler Brayton to make an impact. The most important player to watch though, is 2009 first round draft pick Jerry Hughes. He needs to play better this week to instill more confidence in him in the fan base. He's been the target of a lot of criticism this week (more than necessary, IMO) and needs to get a few QB pressures, or a sack or two, to quiet the grumblings.
- Jacob Lacey, Chris Rucker, and Kevin Thomas
These cornerbacks need to perform well this year in order for the Colts to have some depth at the position. For Lacey, he needs to prove that he can start for the Colts, if that's where they really intend to put him. Rucker and Thomas both had decent games last week, making some good plays, but Colts' fans don't know much about them yet. Look for at least one of them to make their mark and establish themselves as a dime corner. There's plenty of other things to watch for as well (QB play, Philip Wheeler continuing to impress, etc.), but the most important thing to watch for is injury. The Colts need to stay healthy throughout the preseason, and regular season. Key players who need to stay healthy: Anthoy Gonzalez, Austin Collie, Tommie Harris, and Joe Lefeged. Most important to watch is the two wide receivers, especially Gonzo. He needs to get on the field, and stay on the field. Enjoy the game tonight if you're going! If not, I'll be tweeting thoughts as the game goes on, as I take notes as well. Go Colts!