Colts Pre-Season Game 1 Recap

Sunday afternoon, the Indianapolis Colts kicked off a new era.  Gone are mainstays Peyton Manning, Dallas Clark, Joseph Addai, and Jeff Satruday.  For the first time in over 10 years, Colts fans came to the stadium without a true sense of what they were going to see.  You could feel a sense of excitement and anticipation in the air, something not usually felt during the Pre-Season, especially in Indianapolis where the old regime could have cared less about the first four games.

If there was a perfect scenario to start this new era, it was played out on Sunday.  The defense looked aggressive, the offense looked unstoppable, and Mr. Luck looked like the next great QB that everyone predicted him to be.  Now let’s keep this in perspective.  A 38-3 blowout in the first pre-season game of the season against the lowly Rams isn’t something to judge a season on, but it was an encouraging start to say the least.

Beyond Luck’s impressive line (10-16 for 188 and 2 TDs), there were other players on the field that made a great impression, and unfortunately, there were a few who struggled.  So who impressed early, who busted in game one, and who is the jury still out on?

Good Impression:

Andrew Luck – QB – Like I said, Luck had a perfect first game.  He handled the pressure well, he showed some athleticism making passes outside of the pocket, he was accurate, and he was decisive.  It was a perfect first outing for a young rookie who is replacing a legend.  There will be bumps along the way, but act one was perfect.

Dwayne Allen – TE – I do realize that Allen did not make a catch and didn’t have any targets, but his blocking was superb and is something that we will rely on a lot this year.  He was all over the field, and deserves a steak dinner from Donald Brown for his opening play touchdown.

DJ Johnson – CB – Johnson was supposed to be a camp body and nothing else when the Colts sent Ollie Ogbu to the Eagles for him.  Johnson showed great coverage skills and impressive footwork staying step to step with some of the quick Rams WRs.  After one game, I would like Johnson up as a starter compared to the other corners I saw.

Mario Addison – OLB/DE – This guy is a beast.  He showed great speed and instincts on defense and showed a knack for getting into the backfield.  Addison also was quite impressive sniffing out the return man on Kickoffs.

Jerry Hughes – OLB – He still has a ways to go, but standing up as an OLB already is showing great benefit to this former first round bust.  Hughes showed impressive speed and the tenacity that has been missing over his young career.  He finished the game with 2 sacks.

TY Hilton – WR – Hilton easily had the catch of the game – a tip-toeing sideline grab from Mr. Luck.  Hilton showed great athleticism, impressive speed (reversed field to turn a 5 yard loss into a 10 yard gain), and great route running.  Indy seems to have found their version of Devin Hester, just with better hands.

Lavon Brazill – WR – See Hilton.  Brazill started the game with a drop but that seemed to motivate him and he quickly showed great speed and precise route running.  Impressive start for a 6th round pick.

Vick Ballard – RB – Of all the RBs that played today, Ballard looked the most explosive.  He hit the hole hard, showed great footwork and agility, and didn’t go down after initial contact.  While he played against the Rams second unit, I came away believing that a Ballard/Carter timeshare with Moore playing as the passing down back is our best solution.

Bad Impression:

Donald Brown – RB – Yes he broke off a 63 yard run after catch touchdown, but beyond that, Brown looked dismal.  Brown had a whopping 2 yards on 2 carries and failed miserably as a pass blocker.

Justin King – CB – I was not impressed at all with King.  He had a couple of nice tackles when a runner came to his side (led team with 6), but his coverage was terrible.  On third and short, he is playing 12 yards off the line allowing Bradford the room to underhand a beach ball to the WR for a first down.  Cassius Vaughn, Korey Lindley, and DJ Johnson fared much better in coverage.

Quan Cosby – WR – This one might seem a bit critical after a great down the middle grab from Andrew Luck, but Cosby dropped an easy first down pass from Drew Stanton and seemed lackluster in some of his route running when the ball wasn’t coming his way.  For a vet that lacks size and speed who is battling two impressive young rookies for a roster spot, it was not a good start to the pre-season.

Jermale Hines – S – The Ohio State product sounded pretty confident in his abilities in an Indianapolis Star interview this week.  From what I saw, he talks a better game than he plays.  Hines chose to go for the knockout punch instead of wrapping up which will not work in today’s NFL.  The worst play of the day came on a Kellen Clemmons deep ball.  Yes Hines turned his head, but he also extended his hand and pushed off a WR who was double covered……  Enough said.

Darren Evans – RB – He fumbled.  A guy on the roster bubble who fumbles out of the backfield will never make a good impression.

To Be Determined:

Colby Fleener – TE – Again, it was the first game, but Fleener seemed to struggle mightily as a blocker, and at times seemed lost running routes.  I will give him a pass as a rookie in his first game, but he was clearly outplayed by fellow rookie TE Dwayne Allen.

Antonio Johnson – NT – Mookie actually looked pretty good in the middle.  He saw consistent double and triple teams which kept him out of the backfield.  After a few plays however, he seemed to slow down and his initial explosion at the snap disappeared.   The NT position will be interesting to watch throughout the pre-season.

Injuries of Note:

Delone Carter – RB – Exited with what appeared to be a very minor injury.

Pat Angerer – ILB – Had his foot in a boot and the rumor is it could be broken.

Mike McGlynn – OG – Left with a knee injury, it did not appear to be serious.

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