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Watch these Colts versus the Rams

Offensive right tackle Jack Mewhort, nose tackle, center and secondary will be spots to keep an eye on in third preseason game.

The Indianapolis Colts enter their third preseason game Saturday night at the St. Louis Rams with several players who will be on the spot to perform.

This is the game when the starters play the most during the exhibition schedule. Head coach Chuck Pagano wasn't specific about how long he'll stick with most of his starters, but they played one series into the third quarter in last year's third preseason game.

Here are the players and positions to keep an eye on in the 8 p.m. kickoff at the Edward Jones Dome:

* 1. Offensive right tackle Jack Mewhort -- The second-year pro had a rough start to Saturday's preseason game against the Chicago Bears as Pernell McPhee beat him twice and sacked Andrew Luck once. It's only one game and Mewhort is learning a new position after starting at left guard as a rookie. But the Rams have a strong pass rush and Mewhort will again be tested. Mewhort is his own worst critic and said his play was unacceptable. The Colts used 11 different starting combinations on the offensive line last season, so it's imperative they settle on a starting five and develop continuity.

* 2. Nose tackle -- Josh Chapman began preseason as the starter, but the Colts gave 14 first-half snaps to rookie David Parry in the Bears' game. Parry had one tackle whereas Chapman, who played 11 first-half snaps, didn't have any. Pagano has said the competition at the position is between Chapman, Parry and reserve Zach Kerr, who was used in the second half of the last game. Defensive coordinator Greg Manusky said the Colts are looking for one man to step forward and earn the job. The team moved up in the fifth round to select Parry, who is undersized at 300 pounds but has a relentless motor. If Chapman isn't disruptive, that opens the door more for Parry and Kerr.

* 3. Center -- Third-year pro Khaled Holmes has started the first two preseason games after finishing last season as the starter in the last five games. Second-year pro Jonotthan Harrison entered in the third offensive series last week as the two traded series in the first half. Holmes, a former fourth-round draft pick, appears to have the edge at the moment, but Harrison started 10 games last season until he hit the "rookie wall." Both will get their share of snaps in this game.

* 4. Secondary -- Cornerback Greg Toler is sidelined with a neck injury, which likely means nickel cornerback Darius Butler gets the start. But that also means another player will be called upon as the nickel back, either rookie D'Joun Smith or fifth-year pro Jalil Brown. Smith was drafted in the third round and is listed on the depth chart as a backup ahead of Brown. The Colts drafted Smith with an eye toward the future, considering Toler is in the final year of his contract. This game might be Smith's best chance yet to show how he's adjusting to the NFL. Brown had an exceptional training camp with a team-high five interceptions.

* 5. Starter production -- The Colts have been outscored 59-21 in two preseason losses, so it should go without saying that the offense and defense will be expected to perform more like players befitting a team touted as a Super Bowl contender. It's the first time in preseason that the Colts have game-planned for an opponent, treating preparation more like a regular-season game. The first-team offense has scored eight points and the first-team defense has allowed 19 points in two games. The Rams are also 0-2 in preseason, so there's no excuse for the Colts playing poorly again, at least when the starters are playing.

Phillip B. Wilson also can be found on Facebook and Google+. 


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