Colts v. Bengals – Who Impressed and Who Didn’t

These were my impressions from the final preseason game – what were yours?

Impressed:

  • LB Philip Wheeler – Wheeler seemed to be in on every defensive play, demonstrating his veteran experience.  I wouldn’t be surprised to hear him start talking about the game having slowed down for him.
  • LB Philip Wheeler, LB Ernie Sims, S David Caldwell – yes, I’m mentioning Wheeler again.  All three of these defensive players seemed to stick every tackle they had to make… and with the defense on the field so much all night there were a LOT of tackles to make.
  • QB Dan Orlovsky – Orlovsky simultaneously shows more poise and energy on the field than Curtis Painter.   However, the decision to not put Painter on the field against the Bengals indicates to me that Orlovsky will not make the roster.  (I do hold out hope that I’m wrong.)

Didn’t Impress:

  • RB Donald Brown – Brown’s negative 1-yard game may have been more the product of poor offensive line, but at this stage, Brown should be able to make some plays in situations where he’s not given much to work with.  Brown will be able to do far better on a team with a beefcake-laden, athletic offensive line, but this is just not the Colts.  And although he now seems to be picking up his blocking assignments more consistently, if anyone more than 180 pounds rushes his way, I worry he can’t sustain the block.  I love Brown, but hope the Colts cut their losses and go with Addai, Carter, James, Evans.  I would also welcome the team giving Mike Hart or Dominic Rhodes a call.
  • OT Anthony Castonzo – For the first time this preseason, Castonzo looked like a rookie for the entire time he was in.  He was constantly beaten on the outside, and combined with Statue of Liberty Collins, it just looked… awful.  I admit I expected him to continue to improve from previous games, but perhaps it’s a good wake-up call.
  • Strong-side defensive line contain – it seemed that any time Dalton or Gradkowski got into trouble or couldn’t find their first read, they were able to step to their right and either have a wide-open receiver with a cushion-offering CB Kevin Thomas, or a huge running lane to the first down.

 

Mixed Feelings:

  • QB Kerry Collins – Collins gets a pass for the time being.  With only a week in the system, you can’t expect Collins to have mastered the offense.  The good news is his arm does look strong, but he is an absolute STONE in the pocket.
  • WR Taj Smith – In yesterday’s Check it to Pancakes podcast, I noted that Smith was one of the players I was really looking forward to making some plays.  He was hot and cold – making some great catches and missing a couple of memorable ones.  In the third quarter, I was confident Smith would make the team, then I lost confidence mid-way through the fourth (big drop), regained hope toward the end of the game (nice catch), then lost it again (another drop), then sort of regained it (easy catch), then gained more (touchdown).  At this point, I’ll go out on a limb – I still believe he will make the team based on his special teams experience and his ability to substitute in a pinch.  But he’s really on the bubble and the decision on Smith may be dependent on whether Blair White is activated from the PUP list.
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