Colts Units Analysis

Jerry Langton breaks down the Colts unit by unit as they prepare to take on the Ravens Sunday night.

It sounds easy. Conventional wisdom says that you beat the Ravens by stopping the run and forcing Kyle Boller, a first-round pick at quarterback who has been slow to develop, to beat you. But stopping the run when you're facing a huge and talented line and one of the best big backs of our era in Jamal Lewis isn't ever easy. The Ravens are also known for their defense, which is studded with stars, but may be vulnerable at the start of the season as they adjust to new coordinator Rex Ryan's philosophy and complex alignments.

QB 18 Peyton Manning, 12 Jim Sorgi

RB 32 Edgerrin James, 33 Dominic Rhodes (doubtful), 23 James Mungro, 35 Ran Carthon

Backfield analysis: Manning has been ready to go for months; forget that twinge he got in the preseason, he'll be 100 percent. He's had trouble with the Ravens' defense in the past, but should be able to capitalize on the inevitable mistakes in their first game with a complicated new set of alignments. Rhodes' injury shouldn't affect the team too much on offense as James has looked rejuvenated of late. Still no fullback and no short-yardage man available, though, and that could be a problem soon.

FL 88 Marvin Harrison, 96 Troy Walters, 85 Aaron Moorehead

SE 87 Reggie Wayne, 83 Brandon Stokely (probable)

TE 44 Dallas Clark (questionable), 80 Ben Hartsock, 47 Ben Utecht, 81 Bryan Fletcher (probable)

Receivers analysis: Is anyone surprised to see Clark injured? It's not unthinkable that secret weapon Utecht could kick off the season and his career with a breakout game. With the Ravens' excellent corners and quick pass-rush, don't be surprised to see Manning work extensively with Stokely and/or Walters out of the slot. Ravens FS Will Demps can be beaten deep, but the rest of the secondary can't.

RT 71 Ryan Diem (probable), 74 Joaquin Gonzalez

RG 73 Jake Scott, 69 Matt Ulrich

C 53 Jeff Saturday

LG 65 Ryan Lilja, 57 Dylan Gandy

LT 78 Tarik Glenn,

Offensive line analysis: Although Saturday's return should make things significantly more solid than they were in the preseason, the interior starters are the same ones that had trouble opening holes at the end of last season. Since the Ravens are smaller and softer on the right side of their defense, expect the Colts to run left with great frequency, often with a tight end digging on the end or backer.

DE 93 Dwight Freeney, 98 Robert Mathis, 99 Jonathan Welsh (out)

RDT 90 Montae Reagor (doubtful), 97 Corey Simon, 72 Sweet Pea Burns (out)

LDT 75 Larry Tripplett, 95 Darrell Reid

LDE 79 Raheem Brock, 91 Josh Thomas (probable)

Defensive line analysis: Last year, Freeney embarrassed Ravens left tackle Jon Ogden and should do the same again provided there are no lingering affects of his preseason injury. Ravens right tackle Orlando Brown may be in for an even tougher assignment having to deal with Brock and Mathis, who looks poised for a huge season. Injuries to starting tackles Williams (PUP) and Reagor (doubtful) don't help an inside already soft against the run, but the addition of Simon should eventually help shore things up. If it doesn't start against the Ravens, the linebackers could be in for a long day trying to bring down Baltimore's big backs.

RLB 59 Cato June, 51 Gilbert Gardner (out), 53 Keith O'Neil (out, personal reasons)

MLB 58 Gary Brackett, 94 Rob Morris

LLB 50 David Thornton

Linebacker analysis: Despite his exceptional play in coverage this preseason, Brackett is still not a factor in the running game and will targeted from snap  Gardner's injury and Pope's suspension hurt, and the addition of Calmus gave some hope until he landed on IR on Saturday. Look for lots of shifting of positions and deceptive alignments.

RCB 30 Donald Strickland (probable), 42 Jason David, 26 Kelvin Hayden

LCB 25 Nick Harper, 28 Marlin Jackson (questionable)

SS 29 Joseph Jefferson (probable), 43 Matt Giordano

FS 21 Bob Sanders (probable), 38 Gerome Sapp

Secondary analysis: Injuries are a problem, but the Colts defensive backs look much improved over last year. A healthy Sanders can make a huge difference in both the running and passing game, and Jefferson is much better in coverage and a more consistent overall player than Doss, the man he replaces at SS. With tall receivers Todd Head (6'4), Clarence Moore (6'5) and Randy Hymes (6'3), the Ravens will try to take advantage over the Colts' secondary, but dependence on jump-balls can result in exposed receivers, big hits and dropped passes. Keeping running backs Jamal Lewis and Chester Taylor minimized should be the top priority for the Colts' secondary, but containing Heap may be just as important.

K 13 Mike Vanderjagt, 16 Dave Rayner

P 17 Hunter Smith

LS 48 Justin Snow

KR 33 Dominic Rhodes (questionable), 86 Troy Walters, 35 Ran Carthon

PR 86 Troy Walters, 42 Jason David

Special teams analysis: The addition of Rayner gives the Colts a few extra field-position yards, but a lack of a  quality punt returner gives them back. With the Colts' top two kick returners out of the game (Rhodes is questionable and Pyatt is on IR), the Colts hope the tentative Walters and the not-very-elusive Carthon can carry the load. Ravens' return man BJ Sams is a true home run threat and will test the Colts' coverage teams.

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