At First Glance: Rams 19, Colts 17

This weekend, ColtPower will break down the game tape and will be providing detailed analysis of what we noticed about the players' performances throughout the week. But here are some initial impressions ... at first glance.

At First Glance...

... The Rams were clearly intent on establishing a running game, and with the Colts wanting to get a good look at Rhodes versus Addai, you would have expected to see more running. But the first-half mix for the Colts offense was 22 pass attempts versus just 7 rushing attempts. At the half, Rhodes had just ten yards and Addai had only three. They didn't even really get a chance to get their engines revving.

... The Colts offensive line has some work to do, especially on pass protection. But that shouldn't be a surprise. Only two reserves have any regular season experience -- Matt Ulrich and Dylan Gandy. The rest of the group includes guys with NFL Europe (Mike Johnson) or practice squad experience (Bo Lacy), Cody Campbell -- who spent his rookie year on injured reserve -- and five rookies. There were a bunch of guys learning on the job out there last night who have talent, but they'll need some time to develop. The starting line did a good job of protecting Peyton Manning on the opening drive, helping him complete 3 of 5 passes for 50 yards and a touchdown.

... Ben Utecht (pictured, right) grabbed the first Colts touchdown pass from Manning, a nice way for him to start his 2006 preseason. His first catch of the regular season last year in Baltimore was a touchdown pass as well.

... For anyone who may have yawned when the Colts signed third-round pick Freddie Keiaho in this year's draft, I hope he woke you up. This guy is a player. He led the Colts in tackles for the first half with five and finished with seven, ironically, third-best on the night by any Colt.

... Sure, it was primarily in mop-up duty, but defensive lineman Marcus West didn't hurt his chances with his performance against the Rams. He led the team with ten tackles on the night. Not bad for an undrafted free agent out of Memphis who was an afterthought, not being signed by the Colts until mid-May, roughly two weeks after the rest of the undrafted rookies.

... It was nice to see Tyjuan Hagler showing the speed that he was famous for at the University of Cincinnati and showing no lingering effect from last year's sports hernia surgery. He finished the night with 8 tackles, second-best on the team. The move from the middle to the weakside is really going to help him shine.

... How about Matt Giordano? For a guy who was clearly a behind-the-scenes guy as a rookie, he really appears to have made significant strides. He showed great determination chasing down Fred Russell on the 54-yard run. The Colts coaches will definitely take note of how he didn't quit on that play.

... Jim Sorgi didn't do much to reinforce the notion that he's clearly the No. 2 quarterback for the Colts heading into the 2006 season. He went 7 for 17 in the first half for 64 yards, but only three passes were truly significant, accounting for 48 of his yards. Two of his passes were dump-offs to Addai that resulted in 12 yards, the other two were quick passes to Dallas Clark and Ben Utecht that only gained a total of four yards. On three of six possessions with Sorgi at the helm, the Colts failed to get a first down.

... Shaun King had some mixed results as well, but he even saw more pressure than Sorgi as less experienced players lined up in front of him for protection. He used his scrambling ability to make a couple of veteran-savvy throws, including a perfectly-thrown ball to Levon Thomas that he pulled in over his shoulder before taking it the final few yards for a fourth-quarter score. Some of you may remember that Thomas had a big-game against Buffalo in the preseason last year. It'll be interesting to see if he can show that same poise throughout the balance of this preseason. King, who went 6-10 on the night for 122 yards, also threw an interception. I'm anxious to see what we can determine from the tape of what went wrong on that one. It looked like John Standeford was the intended target on the play.

... Welcome to the Colts, Adam Vinatieri. Nailing a 53-yard field goal in your preseason opener was a nice way to say hello. Likewise to seventh-round pick T.J. Rushing, who charged up the Colts sidelines with a 63-yard kickoff return to set up that field goal attempt.

... I was surprised that we didn't see Dan Sheldon get any returns work during the game. I figured Ashlan Davis would get some chances. He returned one kick for 25 yards showing a nice intial burst, but he didn't get much of a seam to run through.

... Kelvin Hayden redeemed himself after an early illegal contact call by shutting down a Rams scoring drive with an interception in the end zone. He made a nice move on that ball, and then didn't make the mistake of trying to run it out of the end zone and into a crowd as some young players would have done in hopes of turning it into an even bigger play.

... For a guy who was just signed at the end of last week, safety Jammal Lord sure saw a lot of field time, and appeared to be holding his own out there.

... I really like Rob Morris on the Colts special teams, but when he misses a tackle like he did on that screen pass to Moe Williams, it still makes me shake my head in disbelief. Guess who made the tackle a second later? Freddie Keiaho.

... Give Dylan Gandy some credit for a heads up play, falling on the ball in the end zone when Sorgi got bushwhacked for a sack. He likely saved a touchdown by taking the safety.

... Who was that Rams receiver late in the game that pulled in a nice 40-yard pass from Dave Ragone? Oh yeah, former Colt Brad Pyatt. Remember him? Nice to see he's doing well.

...  Everyone's been wondering whether or not Vinatieri will handle kickoffs or if rookie Shane Andrus will be kept to help in that area. Well, Vinatieri sure started off well with a beauty of an onsides kick that was recovered by Von Hutchins. Vinatieri showed he still has plenty of power in his leg, kicking one 5 yards deep into the end zone, and his next one a yard deep past the goal line. But Andrus kept his foot in the door, converting an extra point try and driving his only kickoff attempt of the night to the St.Louis 4-yard line.

... Six first-half penalties by the Colts will surely make Tony Dungy a bit cranky this week, and second-year cornerback Marlin Jackson will be at the top of the list. Out of the 62 penalty yards, 42 belonged to Jackson. The team may have gotten an earful at halftime, because they didn't draw a single flag during the second half. The six flags in the first half were charged to Jackson (10 yards for holding, 32 for pass interference), Darrell Reid (5 yards, encroachment), Kelvin Hayden (5 yards, illegal contact), Jim Sorgi (5 yards, delay of game), and Terrence Wilkins (5 yards, false start).

... Considering the Colts were missing a ton of guys on defense, I was actually very impressed with the defense's performance. A 19-17 loss under those conditions along with Manning only playing one series really wasn't bad at all.

Beginning this weekend and into next week, we'll provide detailed analysis based on our game tape observations while still bringing you top-rate training camp coverage and our exclusive interviews and Colts Scout features, so check in often! In-Story photo by Tom Gannam/AP.

Colts Blitz Top Stories