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NFL: AUG 08 Indianapolis Colts Training Camp

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INDIANAPOLIS The Shane Steichen (preseason) era will get some action in this Saturday.

For a second straight year, the Colts are heading to Buffalo for a Saturday afternoon preseason opener.

Here are 7 things I’ll be watching for when the Colts take on the Bills:

1. Anthony Richardson’s Play (Duh)

NFL: AUG 08 Indianapolis Colts Training Camp Source:Getty

That was easy. Of course, the play of Richardson deserves to be near the top of this weekly game preview piece. How long will Richardson play? How does he look with a red jersey no longer on him? Remember, Chris Ballard mentioned at the start of training camp evaluation periods in games will carry some more weight with the rookie QB. Richardson is going to start on Saturday. Will Shane Steichen leave him in past the first quarter or have the rookie exit when the majority of starters head out?

2. Quarter Long Starting Plan:

NFL: AUG 01 Indianapolis Colts Training Camp Source:Getty

The plan from Shane Steichen is for his starters to play around a quarter on Saturday. Although the head coach added each player will be a “case-by-case” situation with their respective playing time. For this entire preseason, it’s going to be very interesting to see how Steichen handles the starting playing time. Typically, teams don’t play their starters much following joint sessions. Will that be the case for the Colts after next week’s time with the Bears, and then the Eagles the following week? Or will a 4-win team, with a new coaching staff and a vastly inexperienced rookie QB change that norm?

3. Play Of Offensive Line

NFL: JUL 29 Indianapolis Colts Training Camp Source:Getty

Amidst all the chaos from last season, I can completely understand if those forget what happened in last year’s preseason opener. In deciding to have the first-team offense start last year’s preseason opener, the Colts offensive line got whipped against Buffalo’s second-unit. You had run stuffs in short yardage, issues in pass protection and a critical 4th down false start all from the Colts starting offense facing Buffalo reserves. Back then, many chalked it up to preseason opener rust. It ended up being a precursor for a horrible year from that unit. Outside of Braden Smith (knee), the Colts should have their starting offensive line together on Saturday, facing a Buffalo team expected to play its starters (and a strong defense, too) for a quarter.

4. JuJu Brents, Darius Rush

NFL: AUG 08 Indianapolis Colts Training Camp Source:Getty

Sure, you could throw the entire cornerback depth chart on a ‘things to watch” list given the massive inexperience of that entire room. But let’s narrow it down to the 2nd and 5th round picks from April, due to the fact they’ve missed so much practice time this offseason.

5. Kenyon Drake Action?

NFL: AUG 08 Indianapolis Colts Training Camp Source:Getty

These preseason games will offer some great opportunities for the unproven running back depth chart to try and impress. Kenyon Drake isn’t unproven, but he should still get his own chances to show what he’s got left at 29 years old, assuming he’s healthy. It’s possible Drake could be the Week 1 starter depending on the return of Zack Moss (broken arm) and saga of Jonathan Taylor.

6. Special Teams Watch

NFL: AUG 08 Indianapolis Colts Training Camp Source:Getty

The Colts have a lot of newness to a unit that’s been very reliable in recent years. Bubba Ventrone is gone as special teams coordinator, so new NFL assistant Brian Mason (who hails from Zionsville) is running the 4th down show for Shane Steichen. You have a new kicker in prized free agent Matt Gay. You have Rigoberto Sanchez back from a torn Achilles. And you have two new returners needed with Nyheim Hines (punt) and Isaiah Rodgers (kick) both gone.

7. Any Sleeper Rookies?

NFL: JUN 07 Indianapolis Colts OTA Source:Getty

Depending on how the Colts want to handle their next/final two preseason games, which follow a trio of joint practice sessions, this game on Saturday could very well be the longest action back end of the roster guys get in the preseason. So you don’t want to waste this (longest?) chance even if the NFL has changed the rules to just one, big roster cut from 90 to 53, following the end of the preseason.

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