5 things to watch for: Indianapolis Colts vs. Cleveland Browns

Andrew Luck scrambles against the New York Giants (Photo credit: Brad Penner USA TODAY Sports)

  Andrew Luck scrambles against the New York Giants (Photo credit: Brad Penner USA TODAY Sports)

The highlight for week 1 of the Indianapolis Colts’ pre-season was Jim Irsay giving his commanders an ‘earful’. The most interesting tidbit from week 2 was Andrew Luck’s big day and Reggie Wayne catching the ball with his Spider-Man powers. Week 3 is here and it’s time for what is known as the ‘dress rehearsal’ game; in other words, the coaches will be implementing a game-plan, and we’ll get a glimpse of what the 2013 Colts will look like. Here are 5 things to look for in the upcoming game against the Cleveland Browns:

1. The passing game

Not necessarily looking at how the quarterbacks play, though we are always looking at that, but how the new offensive coordinator runs his offense. Coordinator Pep Hamilton is projected to be bringing a more quick-hitting passing strategy to the team, especially compared to our bombs away approach from last year. Look for more bubble screens and quick slants to boost quarterback Andrew Luck’s confidence and accuracy.

2. Will the Colts become a run-heavy offense?

Another big question mark is, yet again, surrounding Hamilton’s offense. He and most of the other coaches have been preaching a hard-nosed, run the ball down their throat and stop the run, mantra. However, we heard this same slogan last year and we ended up passing it 627 times. Even though Hamilton did follow through with his run-first offense at Stanford, with the same quarterback mind you, I don’t see it happening here, as the Colts have the personnel for a great passing offense but not a running one. Still, it’s something to watch for in this upcoming matchup.

Will Vick Ballard and co. carry the load for the Colts offense? (Photo credit: colts.com)

Will Vick Ballard and co. carry the load for the Colts offense? (Photo credit: colts.com)

3. The offensive line

With guard Mike McGlynn out Saturday with a knee injury, it gives others an opportunity to claim his spot. Honestly, McGlynn has been awful since he was signed last off-season and somebody really needs to step up and show the coaches that McGlynn isn’t the answer at the right guard position. Guard/tackle Jeff Linkenbach is the man replacing him, but I am paying closer attention to rookie guard Hugh Thornton, who should be taking some first team snaps as well. Thornton will be returning from injury and playing in his first NFL game, and as a 3rd round draft pick, should bring some talent to this offensive unit. Along with the right guard position, it will be interesting to see if the rest of the offensive line will start to gel, with the two new off-season acquisitions; Donald Thomas and Gosder Chrilus, manning starting spots for this new look offensive line.

4. Secondary

Safety LaRon Landry and cornerback Greg Toler are new toys in the secondary that GM Ryan Grigson bought for his coach, Chuck Pagano, this off-season. Though Toler showed some skill last week against the Giants, it’ll be interesting to see how he holds up against a team that has a game-plan ready and a quarterback trying to prove himself. For Landry, it will be his first game as a Colt after missing the first two pre-season matches and it’ll be interesting to see how he can impact the game, with his hitting especially. Landry should also help safety Antoine Bethea with his lackluster play from last year that has also trickled into this pre-season so far. Bethea should be more comfortable with a potential playmaker working alongside him. This is a unit to pay close attention to during this upcoming pre-season matchup.

How will the secondary fair this year? (Photo credit: AP Photo/Bill Kostroun)

How will the secondary fair this year? (Photo credit: AP Photo/Bill Kostroun)

5. Defensive line

A unit that looks completely different from 2012; Grigson signed defensive tackle Ricky-Jean Francois and nose tackle Aubrayo Franklin, drafted nose tackle/defense tackle Montori Hughes, and don’t forget Josh Chapman, a.k.a. ‘Chapnado’, is back after spending his entire rookie season on the injured reserve due to a knee surgery. This line could range anywhere from an utter failure to a formidable front, and we should get a hint of what direction they’re headed in after Saturday’s game.

It should be a fun game to watch and just a peep-hole of a preview for what’s to come in the regular season. However, it is a pre-season game and I wouldn’t put much stock into what happens on Saturday, but still, football is football. Go Colts!

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