In my 15+ years of football watching, I can’t recall a pre-season game as hyped up as this one. The reasoning is sound. The first two draft picks of this year’s draft, both of which are two of the best quarterback prospects to come out in the last decade, meeting head to head for the first time. If you need me to tell you this refers to the Colts’ Andrew Luck and the Redskins’ Robert Griffin III, you have been locked in a room with no windows or doors for the last four months. With it being the 3rd pre-season game, both Luck and Griffin should play well into the third quarter of Saturday’s game at FedEx Field. It should be an entertaining contest at the very least.
But no matter who comes out on top in this one, one fact remains: It’s still the pre-season. Neither Andrew Luck nor Robert Griffin’s career will be defined by this game. They hype surrounding this game (including its own commemorative t-shirt) is way over blown even for a regular season match-up. This is little more than a glorified practice. Sure, it will be fun to watch these two show that they’ve learned in training camp, but neither team will be rolling out all its tricks. The media will carry on about “what this game means” for each man, win or lose, and there will be various answers, most all of which will be to generate false interest and/or ratings. This game won’t mean anything to either other than it was good to get experience. It’s still just the pre-season.
Of greater importance to Colts fans should be the team’s health. The depth of this young team is already being tested. Starters ILB Pat Angerer (fractured foot) and WR Austin Collie (concussion) will miss some time to recover from their injuries. WR Donnie Avery has missed most of training camp and all of the pre-season to date with a thigh injury (more on him in a moment). DE Corey Redding has been in and out with various minor injuries and OLB Robert Mathis suffered a strained shoulder in the loss to Pittsburgh. Though the coaches would like to get as much time as possible in with the starters, the health of the team will be paramount. Don’t be surprised if some guys sit early.
3 Things to Watch
1. The Colts Wide Receivers -Though some – mainly Reggie Wayne – have played decently the past two games, the Colts receivers are having trouble holding on to the ball. There have been numerous drops throughout the pre-season. The most heinous of them all was T.Y. Hilton’s juggling act in the Steelers game that led to an interception. Most of this can be pinned to the fact that these guys are young. That’s not an excuse; they still need to learn to catch. But that should come as they get more comfortable with the new offense and the new quarterback. Expect to see some improvement this week as well.
2. Donald Brown – Running back Donald Brown is the presumptive starting running back for the Colts right now. He’s shown some flashes so far in the pre-season (including a 63-yard touchdown reception in the Rams game and a 21 yard touchdown run vs. the Steelers). But he’s going to need to show more to keep his job, and that includes being more effective in pass blocking. Andrew Luck is going to need all the protection he can get as the offensive line continues to try to improve. Brown has talent, there’s no question about it. But he needs to be more effective and more efficient in all facets to keep his job. I expect to see more runs from him against Washington.
Colts RB Donald Brown
3. Donnie Avery – As I mentioned above, Avery has been out for a while nursing a thigh injury. It was released yesterday that Avery will make his first appearance of the pre-season Saturday. He should get a decent amount of time, but the Colts need to be careful with him. Avery has been injury prone throughout his career. Luck will probably throw five or six balls his way to work him into the mix, but I would sit Avery before the end of the half to preserve him.
Colts WR Donnie Avery
Match-ups to Watch
1. Colts DBs vs. Pierre Garcon – Former Colts WR Pierre Garcon made a big splash in the ‘Skins first game of the pre-season, but was limited last week registering only 2 catches for 8 yards against the Bears. The Colts have nowhere near the talent in the defensive backfield that Chicago does, and Garcon has burner speed. Don’t think that Garcon won’t want to show off for his old team (and owner) as well.
Redskins WR Pierre Garcon
2. Luck will NOT throw an interception – Ok, this is cheating a bit. The last two weeks I’ve been saying Luck would throw a pick (and he finally did last week). But this time I say he’s going to be more careful with the ball. If the receivers can keep their hands on the pigskin, Luck will go INT-free.
3. RGIII will show off his legs – The Colts defense has speed on the outside with Freeney and Mathis. RGIII we know can run. I don’t know if the rookie will outrun either OLB, but I guarantee we’re going to see him try.
4. RGIII will throw at least 1 touchdown – If you’ve been reading any of my previous Colts posts, then you’ll know how I feel about the DBs. Thus this prediction.
5. 3rd quarter score – The starters will probably all be done mid-way through the third, but don’t be surprised if they play the entire quarter. Based on that, I see the Colts leading the Redskins 24-13 after 3.
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