Indianapolis Colts fans, rejoice! Your team, hot off of an 11-5 season that featured a return to the playoffs in 2012, is back in action today when they take on the Buffalo Bills.
Of course, by “your team” I am really referring the to the fringe, the third stringers, the scout teamers, and the UDFAs that will eat up the majority of the game.
And by “back in action” I obviously mean playing the very basest of offensive schemes and vanilla defenses that reveal next to nothing about how the team – once then roster has been finalized – will actually operate in the when the games actually matter.
But don’t let that get you down. Football is BACK, baby – even if it’s the watered down, Who Are These Guys, leave a bad taste in your mouth kind of football. But hey, you take what you can get. After all, beggars can’t be choosers.
So what can you expect from this first taste of NFL football since that disappointing defeat to the eventual Super Bowl champion Baltimore Ravens on January 6th? Well, to be perfectly and bluntly obvious, not a whole hell of a lot. The starters for the most part will see action in a series, maybe two if we’re lucky. I’d be surprised to see them go any further than that, though I suppose its not outside the realm of possibility that we could see them in until the end of the first quarter.
But that’s not what this game is really for. This is a real-time try-out, a work out in pads of epic proportions for the 10-15 roster spots that aren’t officially sealed yet. Although the games don’t officially count, and the talent level and execution is not up to the standards that we are accustomed to seeing in an NFL game, that doesn’t mean that this game lacks meaning or excitement.
Guys like TE Justice Cunningham (this year’s Mr. Irrelevant), WR Nathan Palmer, LB C.O. Prime, and LB Josh McNary are all fighting to keep their NFL dreams alive. While some of these guys have been getting better reviews thus far in training camp than others (I’ve heard particularly positive things about Cunningham and some about Palmer), that’s a long shot from being on the final 53-man roster.
McNary, in particular, will be one guy I am keeping an eye on. Coming out of Army, he served two years before being able to sign with an NFL team. He’s currently listed as 4th at the Will LB spot, so a good showing from him will really help. Even if it comes against the cast-offs Buffalo will throw at the Colts towards the end of the game. That’s probably the one beautiful thing about pre-season football – no matter who’s on the field, if you have a great game, you have a great game.
So my advice to all of you out there in Colts Nation – don’t be so quick to change the station in the 4th quarter. That bottom of the depth chart guy you’re seeing now has a chance – no matter how small – to be the next difference maker in the Horseshoe.
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