The defense swarms Bills running back C.J. Spiller in Preseason Week 1 against Buffalo. Photo courtesy of colts.com
ISR Colts/Notre Dame Beat Writer
INDIANAPOLIS – Tonight, the Colts travel to Cincinnati to take on the Bengals in each team’s preseason finale. The fourth preseason game is usually comparable to the first in terms of how long the starters play. However, we may see even less of the starters tonight. The starters are mostly settled, so this fourth preseason game is one last audition for players on the bubble of making the roster. The final round of roster cuts around the league is due this Saturday, August 31st. Therefore, we should really see some of these young players shine.
Broadcasting Information: Thursday, August 29th, 7:00pm EST; Cincinnati, OH, Paul Brown Stadium; Local TV – WNDY 23; Radio – WFNI 107.5 FM/1070 AM The Fan and 97.1FM Hank FM.
Tonight, I will be watching for the following:
- Emmett Cleary/Ben Ijalana – I will really be keeping an eye on these players tonight, provided they both see enough action tonight to make an impact. Many Colts fans would welcome the idea of having either of these two on board over Bradley Sowell. Cleary and Ijalana both stand a good chance of making the roster, but it will most likely be one or the other.
- Montori Hughes/Drake Nevis/Ricardo Mathews – In my opinion, this is the most intriguing battle to look for tonight. When you think about it, there is little-to-no chance that all three of these players are on the roster by the time the sun sets Saturday evening. Nevis and Mathews have both played well for the Colts throughout their young careers, and both have begun playing better since the defensive scheme switched to a 3-4 base. However, the club spent a 5th Round draft pick on Montori Hughes, so they will not just give him up, and placing him on the practice squad is too risky, as any team could sign him away. Do not rule out a trade swapping one of these players for a mid-to-late round 2014 draft pick, as the team likely feels high enough on these players that they do not want to give them up for free.
- Sergio Brown/Larry Asante/Daxton Swanson – This is another battle where a talented player will be left on the outside looking in. Sergio Brown is a four-year special teams ace, while Larry Asante and Daxton Swanson are young players that have made exciting defensive plays during the preseason. Both Asante and Swanson have played respectively enough to where they are not liabilities. However, it is a real possibility that only one of these players (maybe even none) makes the final roster. If you consider Antoine Bethea, LaRon Landry, Joe Lefeged and Delano Howell as players who have already sealed up a roster spot, then Brown, Asante and Swanson would be the fifth, sixth and seventh safeties. Teams just do not carry that many safeties on a roster at once.
None of these three battles will dictate starting positions, but they will determine some key depth spots. Also, although these players will not start, they all will likely contribute on special teams if they make the final roster. Having to choose between some of these players means that some really good players may very well be let go by Saturday’s deadline.
Jake Arthur is the Colts and Notre Dame beat writer for the Indy Sports Report. Follow Jake and the Indy Sports Report on Twitter.
Cover photo courtesy of sportspyder.com