Listen Live
Indianapolis Colts v Philadelphia Eagles

Source: Michael Owens / Getty

INDIANAPOLIS – Goodbye, preseason. Hello, roster cut time.

The Colts had their third and final preseason game on Thursday night, beating (the backups of) the Philadelphia Eagles, 27-13.

Here is what we learned from the Colts preseason finale:


1. Welcomed Leg Threat At Quarterback

Indianapolis Colts v Philadelphia Eagles Source:Getty

Bad, boring and old at QB. That was the 2022 Indianapolis Colts. The 2023 Colts might be bad, but they won’t be boring, or old at QB. Anthony Richardson brings such a new (and necessary) weapon to the quarterback position with his running element, and the national TV audience saw that on Thursday. Richardson finished Thursday with 6 series of work, going 6-of-17 for 78 yards, and adding 38 yards on 5 carries. Those numbers don’t tell the full story of what Richardson gives this offense in keeping plays alive, turning negatives into positives and will force opposing defenses to account for his ability to make plays with his legs. Yes, Richardson reigning in that accuracy in the underneath passing game remains a work in progress (although he had a couple of in-strides throws over the middle on one of the Thursday TD drives, which is an area he’s struggled), but he took another step forward on Thursday, leading a pair of TD drives, both spanning more than 50 yards, and then another FG drive, among his 6 series of work. For the preseason, Richardson led 4 scoring drives in 9 series of work (I’m counting the Matt Gay missed field goal against Buffalo). He was 13-of-29 (44.9 percent) for 153 yards, adding 45 rushing yards on 7 carries. Again, the underneath accuracy has to become more consistent, but you still saw some of the intrigue in a different, modern QB style that gives this franchise some hope.

2. Evaluating Preseason Starting Work

Indianapolis Colts v Philadelphia Eagles Source:Getty

Let’s go over the starting work the Colts got in this preseason. Unfortunately, none of it came against the opponent’s starting units, offensively or defensively, which is a big bummer in evaluating. The Colts offense officially scored on 3 of its 9 series together. The unit could use some more help from its offensive line avoiding penalties and its pass catchers, but those are storylines we knew entering this season. Defensively, Gus Bradley’s starting unit played 6 series together. The starters allowed scores on 4 of those 6 drives, although the unit was put into some tough field positions on a couple of those scoring drives. The run defense was strong. The defensive line failed to create much playmaking despite facing the other team’s backup offensive line. And the young cornerbacks had more ups than downs when getting tested by second team passers/catchers.

3. Roster Cut Dilemma

Indianapolis Colts v Dallas Cowboys Source:Getty

Now, all attention shifts to Tuesday at 4:00 PM, with NFL teams having to cut their 90-man roster down to 53 (this is now the only mandatory cut of the offseason). This also is the deadline for the Colts to bring Jonathan Taylor off the PUP list, which would grant him eligibility to practice (and play) right away. On the injury front from Thursday, OL-Danny Pinter (left ankle) did get carted off in the 3rd quarter. If healthy, Pinter is definitely going to make the 53-man roster, so his status is worth monitoring for roster reasons/OL depth. Pinter started on Thursday with Ryan Kelly still working back. It was especially tough to see Pinter getting carted off given the Indy native is in a contract year, and an extremely respected teammate. One aspect to Tuesday’s roster cuts to keep in mind is what will take place in the 24 hours following those moves. Thanks to a 4-12-1 record last season, the Colts will sit with the 4th spot in the waiver claim priority, as teams sift through cuts from around the league in looking to find the next Kenny Moore (2017 waiver claim from the Patriots) or Jack Doyle (2013 waiver claim from the Titans). With teams cutting from 90 to 53, that means 1,184 guys will hit the open market. Where could the Colts look for waiver wire help? Some positions on my mind: running back, wideout, offensive line, cornerback, safety.

4. Settling Tight Ends, Cornerback

Los Angeles Chargers v Indianapolis Colts Source:Getty

The two most common position battles Chris Ballard and Shane Steichen have mentioned this preseason are tight end and cornerback. In my dozen years covering the Colts, I can’t recall a position I’ve had more unknown about than the tight end group entering roster cuts. And I’m talking about who makes the team at tight end, how many tight ends make it and how the playing time is going to be divvied up. I guess that’s what happens when 4 of the top 5 guys at tight end have missed substantial portions of camp due to injury. Kylen Granson and Drew Ogletree should feel good about their TE spots though. And then at cornerback, Dallis Flowers and Darrel Baker Jr. got a ton of work in this preseason, and they look to have firmed up their starting outside spots, when the team goes to nickel (Kenny Moore is a mainstay at corner). The unfortunate first offseason for rookie JuJu Brents continued on Thursday as the 2nd round pick didn’t play due to an undisclosed injury. Brents’ lack of availability health wise this offseason has him facing a steep hill to climb for any sort of rookie playing time.

5. Running Back Watch

Indianapolis Colts v Philadelphia Eagles Source:Getty

If Jonathan Taylor was in the stadium on Thursday night, the Amazon cameras never found him. The Colts are reportedly fielding trade offers for Taylor, with Indy expressing a deadline of Tuesday to get something done. What we’ve seen in the preseason is the threat of Anthony Richardson creates even bigger running lanes for whoever is playing running back. Deon Jackson took advantage of that against Buffalo and rookie Evan Hull had a few moments on Thursday (finishing with 6 carries for 25 yards). How could you not watch the Colts offense this preseason, seeing those running creases, and think what a home run hitter like Jonathan Taylor could do next to Richardson?


Indianapolis Colts v Philadelphia Eagles Source:Getty

-Offensive Starters: QB-Anthony Richardson, RB-Deon Jackson, WR-Alec Pierce, WR-Michael Pittman Jr., WR-Josh Downs, TE-Drew Ogletree, LT-Bernhard Raimann, LG-Quenton Nelson, C-Danny Pinter, RG-Carter O’Donnell, RT-Braden Smith

-Defensive Starters: DE-Kwity Paye, DT-DeForest Buckner, DT-Grover Stewart, DE-Samson Ebukam, LB-Zaire Franklin, LB-E.J. Speed, CB-Darrel Baker Jr., CB-Kenny Moore, CB-Dallis Flowers, S-Julian Blackmon, S-Rodney Thomas II

-Injury Report: The following Colts got hurt on Thursday and did not return: OL-Danny Pinter (ankle).

Key Stat: Gardner Minshew finished the preseason going 28-of-32.

What’s Next: The Colts are have concluded their 3-game preseason slate. Next up is the Tuesday deadline for the roster cut of 90 guys down to 53. And the Colts are now back at their team complex with training camp and joint practices done for 2023. The regular season opener is September 10th.

Leave a Reply