Rookie Review: Colts at Carolina

The rookies were on the field less against Carolina, but a select few made strong impressions. Who helped his cause, who hurt his cause, and who took a step back? ColtPower takes a closer look.

Offensive Linemen:

Charlie Johnson once again got the start, but only stayed in with the first team and left after three series, giving way to Mike Pollak, who got quite a bit of time with the second team before eventually giving way to fellow rookie Jamey Richard, who looked much more comfortable at guard once again.

Neither man was responsible for the protection breakdowns early on in the game and the Colts did manage to "fix" those by the second quarter for the most part — but that is primarily because the stars for the Panthers defense, particularly Julius Peppers, played only the first quarter.

Pollak's status was unchanged, as was Steve Justice's, as he once again looked smooth and natural working at center with the second team.  Richard certainly improved his stock, since he had nowhere to go but up after his two costly errors in the Hall of Fame game.

Darren Marquez saw his first action of the preseason, but it came very late in the game and it was therefore difficult to gauge his performance.


Curtis Johnson makes a tackle vs. Washington
Al Messerschmidt/Getty Images

Defensive Line:

Marcus Howard let a golden opportunity slip through his fingers, largely disappearing on the field and completely disappearing on the stat line.

With Jeff Charleston and rookie rival Curtis Johnson inactive for the game, Howard had his best chance of the offseason to blow the coaches away.  He fell short in his attempt, allowing himself to be overwhelmed and overpowered by the massive front five of Carolina.

Howard was successful against the Redskins by continuing to hustle, keeping his motor running, and using leverage and quickness to keep his larger opponent off balance.  Here's hoping he gets back to that formula against Atlanta on Saturday.

Eric Foster saw extended action and made the most of it, looking sharp at the point of attack and using his hands well. He showed solid initial quickness of the snap and ended up with the only sack for the Indianapolis defense.

Now that Foster is one of six men in the defensive tackle rotation, it is going to be very important for him to continue to improve from game to game.  He has his best chance yet to make the roster, so he needs to make the most of this opportunity before the final cutdown.

Mike Hart:

Hart built on the momentum he established in the Hall of Fame game with another stellar performance.

Once again, he ran with determination, violence, and authority.  Once again, he demonstrated the vision and decisiveness to find the hole and hit the hole.

And, once again, he showed soft hands and good instincts as a receiver, picking the right time to bail out his quarterback by sticking his hand up and the right time to help out his quarterback by squaring up on his man.

As a pass blocker, he definitely showed improvement, correctly identifying his responsibility as the play unfolded, squaring up, and engaging.  These first two games have been very kind to the young tailback from Michigan, and his chances of making the team seem better and better.

Linebackers and Defensive Backs:

Jamie Silva played both on special teams and at safety, ending up with four tackles, all four on defense, with none coming in the kicking game.

He certainly seems to be getting comfortable with his role in the scheme, but, at this point, with this much depth at the safety position, it looks as though he will have to make the team the way Matt Giordano did: Start by covering kicks, keep hustling, keep learning, and wait for his break.

Brandon Foster actually saw the field on defense, but he may not have had the game ended in regulation.  He is another player whose mentality and nose for the ball leave him best suited to play on special teams, particularly as a gunner.

With Tyjuan Hagler, Philip Wheeler, Clint Session, and Victor Worsley out of the lineup, and Brandon Archer now off the team, Jordan Senn spent plenty of time on the field on Saturday.

He looked about the same as he did in the Redskins game, but a little looser, especially as the game wore on.  He looked exceptional in space and closed to the ball carrier very well, finishing with five tackles.  However, he struggled a great deal in traffic and often took a bad angle or attacked a blocker instead of the man with the ball, taking himself out of the play.

The walking wounded are eventually going to be healthy again, so time is running out for Senn to continue to make his impression.

It is also worth noting that newcomers Danny Verdun-Wheeler and Dedrick Harrington looked much more comfortable in their lanes and assignments after only a few days on the job.


Jacob Tamme showed he could fit in the Colts offense against the Panthers
AP Photo/Mike McCarn

Receivers:

Samuel Giguere played sparingly and Pierre Garcon and Tom Santi were inactive, so the spotlight shone exclusively on Jacob Tamme.  He responded by leading the team with five receptions for 57 yards and the only two touchdowns for Indianapolis.

The first touchdown was simply a case of Tamme being in the right place at the right time, catching the Panthers in the wrong defense, but the second touchdown was a well-run out pattern to the corner of the end zone, beating his man and adjusting well to the ball.

With the seeming return to health of Marvin Harrison, the Colts may move away from the two tight end set as the season gets underway.

That puts a premium on the position and will make it very difficult for Indianapolis to justify keeping four players.  If Santi ever gets well, it will make for a more crowded competition, but for now it looks as though Gijon Robinson and Tamme are getting more and more firmly entrenched as the men behind Dallas Clark.


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