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INDIANAPOLIS – The final August look at the guaranteed starters for the Colts will come on Saturday inside of Lucas Oil Stadium.
It’s time for the San Francisco 49ers to take on the Indianapolis Colts in Week Three of the preseason.
Here are 7 things to watch as the Colts take on the 49ers at 4:30 PM:
1. Luck Bouncing Back
-The first real bumpy work for Andrew Luck over the past month came on Monday night (6-of-13, 50 yards, 1 interception). Luck was not sharp and threw a boneheaded interception in the red zone. Even though the personnel won’t look too much different on Saturday, Luck still needs to remember the keys he set out for himself a few weeks back: connecting on more deep balls, improving his timing with Ryan Grant and Eric Ebron. Finishing off a drive in the red zone would be nice as well, with Luck possibly playing into the third quarter on Saturday, in what will be his last playing time until things get real on Sept. 9.
2. Here Comes Hooker
-Each preseason game has had an intriguing debut (Andrew Luck in Week One, Clayton Geathers in Week Two). Malik Hooker is the next in line on Saturday afternoon. It’s been a little more than 10 months since Hooker tore his ACL and MCL vs. the Jaguars. Hooker will be on a pitch count on Saturday. It will be the first time that Hooker and Clayton Geathers have played together on an NFL playing field. This is the duo of the future that has been dreamed about for months from this new staff. It’s time to see if they can save the day for the defense.
3. Fundamentals Cleaned Up
-Week Two of the preseason saw the Colts commit 13 penalties, have critical drops and leave the red zone twice without points. It doesn’t matter how much, or little, of the playbook you are using, those fundamental aspects of football have to be there. For the Colts to push for a .500 season this year, they must be atop of their game when it comes to fundamentals. Even Andrew Luck committed a fatal turnover on a pass that never should been thrown.
4. Defense Making A Stand
-The Indy defense has not looked great at all against starting quarterbacks in two preseason games. They’ve allowed 13 first downs in 4 series, with 2 of those drives going for touchdowns. Only a mishandled exchange on a 3rd-and-1 from Baltimore led to the Colts lone three-and-out this preseason. These aren’t big time offenses the Colts have faced either.
5. Starting Positions Decided?
-It sounds like the Colts are going to let the right tackle, defensive end and cornerback battles carry into the final week of the preseason. But this dress rehearsal game, with the starters playing into the third quarter, definitely offers a great chance for several guys to emerge in those battles. Is it Braden Smith vs. Denzelle Good at right tackle, or is Austin Howard getting one more chance to prove himself? Hasn’t John Simon done enough at defensive end? Does Quincy Wilson still have a shot to start at cornerback?
6. Final Starting Look
-Saturday will be the final time we see the definite starters until the start of the regular season. Even the installation of new systems for the Colts isn’t wanting Reich to play a few starters more next Thursday in Cincinnati. So that’s why these two and a half quarters of work on Saturday are so important for both sides of the ball before things get real on Sept. 9 against the Bengals.
7. Draft Class Needs To Step Up
-We knew the 2018 draft class was going to very important for the Colts, especially in the need for them to contribute early on. That only grew in importance when the Colts elected to largely sit out the major free agency period. So far, the draft class has offered very mixed results. The good has come with Quenton Nelson, Darius Leonard and Jordan Wilkins. The bad has come with injuries to Kemoko Turay, Tyquan Lewis, Deon Cain and poor moments from Nyheim Hines and Reece Fountain. The Colts really need hits on better than half of their picks to achieve current, and definitely long-term, success.