A 36-10 preseason loss at Philadelphia Sunday wasn’t particularly reassuring based on the score, but Grigson reminded Tuesday it’s a necessary evil to play backups in certain situations to see how they handle the challenge.
Colts starters started exiting in the second series and the entire second half was played by reserves looking to earn a roster spot.
While the Colts placed an emphasis on a competitive training camp, Grigson reiterated his scouting roots have taught him that more is learned from game action and studying that film. That’s why practicing with the Bears on Wednesday and Thursday at the Colts complex can provide more game-like simulations against an opponent.
The two teams meet Saturday night at Lucas Oil Stadium.
“We have a long way to go,” Grigson said. “There are some guys that are emerging at their position groups. You want to see more playmakers emerge even in the first game. Guys have to separate themselves. That’s why hopefully the Bears will bring that out. You don’t want it to be a fight or something you really got to hash out who is going to be the starter.
“You want that to happen on its own. You want a guy to clearly show that he is the guy and that’s what I feel like. What (head coach) Chuck Pagano and I both want is for these guys in these practices and these games to just clearly show that they should be the ones given that responsibly to start, to produce for us and to play winning football.”
Grigson said Sunday’s game showed many of his younger players need to execute at a higher level.
“It was a tale of just two things, good and bad. There was no really grey area, which I think that, it only helps us in the end to see the bad so we can attack that area right away,” he said. “But it’s the first preseason game, and again, you are going to take your lumps in certain areas and some areas are going to show up as strengths that you didn't think quite was. So it’s a learning process and like I said we have three more.”
Reserve running back Vick Ballard returned to practice Tuesday after missing the exhibition opener with a tight hamstring. Ballard is coming off two seasons lost to injuries and needs to prove he can stay on the field in these upcoming preseason games.
“He’s going to keep getting ramped up,” Grigson said. “I think he’s pretty much healed, but again, we have to kind of get him slowly indoctrinated into this whole thing and hopefully get him some live game reps, live action.”
Offensive left guard Donald Thomas continues to make progress in his return from a twice-torn quadriceps that has limited him to two games in two years.
“He is progressing,” Grigson said. “At every field test we do, he is getting better. His feet looked really good the other day when he was working with our trainers, but again, I got to leave that up to the medical people and the doctors. He has got his own doctors that aren’t in state and people that did the surgery. So it’s kind of a conglomerate and then it’s a day-to-day thing.”
The general manager admitted his injured players, including outside linebacker Robert Mathis, have a difficult time not being on the field. They’re anxious to play, but the Colts must be convinced after consulting with doctors that the injuries are healed. Even then, the team will take it slow in getting Mathis, Thomas and even Ballard re-acclimated.
“It’s tough. There is no other way to slice it,” Grigson said. “We have to be able to at some point be able to compare them to other people at their position group and the only way to do that is by playing football, by practicing and being out there and competing. It’s a tough spot for any of these guys I think and I feel for them. I have been there before. It’s no fun to not be out there. They also have to be 100 percent healthy, otherwise it makes no sense throwing them out there to get re-injured.”
The team boss was asked about his sixth-round selections, running back Josh Robinson and inside linebacker Amarlo Herrera, who each made some positive plays in the loss. Robinson led the Colts with 44 yards rushing on 10 carries, including a 9-yard touchdown run on a third-and-goal rush that required him to make a tackler miss and break two other tackles. Herrera had a team-high five tackles and an interception.
“We have three more games,” Grigson said of the exhibition schedule. “I think all the guys showed flashes and showed that they can play at this level. Josh, he had that run down there in the red zone that I thought, that’s not a common run for a lot of backs, vet or rookie. Just in terms of the vision, the reaction and the cutting ability. The way he kind of put that whole thing together, I think everybody noticed that.
“But Chuck and I are not ready to crown anyone after just one game. It’s four games and your body of work that you are putting together until that cut down to show that you deserve to be one of the 53. Amarlo, he showed up some on (special) teams. He played a lot of snaps, darn near 60 snaps, which is great for him. So he has to take advantage of that. You get a guy like Amarlo, who’s really produced at a high level in a premier conference, you feel pretty good about him as a football player. So he has got to get the nuances of the position to show that he can play as a rook and I think he is kind of on his way as well as some of those other guys are too. So we are happy with our picks, how they looked.”
Phillip B. Wilson can be found on Twitter (@pwilson24), Facebook and Google+.