Tony Ugoh: Up until he left the game with an injury, Ugoh was playing brilliantly and the Colts ran behind him successfully on numerous occasions, including a couple of long gains by Addai. He may have reached a point where he has "put it all together" and the game is starting to slow down for him. He faces another try-hard player with an outstanding motor in Mike Rucker. How he holds up this week could tell us a lot about the rest of the season. Ugoh is worth watching just to make sure he doesn't get hurt.
(AP Photo/David J. Phillip)
Kelvin Hayden: While all eyes seemed to be on Bob Sanders in the Monday night game against Jacksonville, Hayden quietly had a spectacular game with eight tackles, four passes defended, and an interception. This week, he draws a slightly more difficult dance partner in Steve Smith. If Hayden is able to stay within the scheme (as he's done all season) and -- more importantly -- stay with Smith, Indianapolis should be able to keep the damage to a minimum.
Dwight Freeney: Colts fans should have a lot to watch for when it comes to Freeney on Sunday, because he will face the overmatched and overwhelmed Travelle Jackson. Jackson does not possess the footwork, hands, strength, speed, or size to slow Freeney down and pass blocking is not DeShaun Foster's or DeAngelo Williams' long-suit. If tight end Jeff King is not motioned over to Freeney's side of the field, starting quarterback Vinny Testaverde will be wishing that David Carr had been healthy enough to start.
Ryan Diem: Diem has, by all accounts, had a stellar season so far. However, he has accomplished this in part because he has yet to face an elite defensive end. It is customary for the opposing team's best pass rusher to line up at right end opposite the offense's left tackle. In Carolina's scheme, Julius Peppers plays right end, though they have been known to line him up everywhere on the defensive line. Peppers has lived up to his lofty draft status and has earned his reputation as one of the premier defensive players in all of football, regardless of position. Needless to say, Peppers presents a stiff challenge for Diem and by far the stiffest challenge he has faced all season. How Diem holds up, and how much help the Colts need to give him, will go a long way in determining whether or not Diem's stellar grade thus far is justified.