1. Jim Sorgi: Tony Dungy said earlier this week that he expects the first unit to play into the third quarter, and since Sorgi is currently the first-team quarterback, that means fans will get their first extended look at the man who has made a career doing the same thing the fans do — watch the game, not play it.
With the status of Peyton Manning's knee uncertain and time running out in the preseason, a good performance by Sorgi will go a long way in assuaging the fears of Horseshoe fans everywhere if Sorgi ends up having to start the first few games of the season. Tony Dungy also said this week that he "couldn't guarantee" Manning would start in the opening game, so it's up to Sorgi to prove he can hold the fort if needed. — or least get the team into the end zone, something he's failed to do this preseason.
Colts fans will be happy to see Bob Sanders back on the field tonight
2. Bob Sanders: Injuries have ravaged the defense, but two players that have missed all of the preseason, Sanders and Dwight Freeney, are expected to return tonight. Freeney may only play a series or two, but it sounds like Sanders is going to play a bit more.
The reigning NFL Defensive Player of the Year has traditionally had a transforming effect on the Colts' defense. What will be interesting to watch is if he can help bolster the run defense, which has been struggling in the preseason so far. The pass defense has been very good and only figures to get better with Sanders back in the lineup.
3. Jamey Richard: Although many of the rookies we've been keeping an eye on this preseason are injured — including Mike Pollak, Curtis Johnson, Eric Foster, Marcus Howard and Philip Wheeler are all expected to miss the game with various ailments — Richard will likely get a starting nod at left guard for the second week in a row.
The seventh-round pick out of Buffalo has impressed the coaches with his intelligence and ability to learn the offense quickly, and has looked solid in preseason action so far.
While Richard has probably done enough to assure himself a roster spot, another good performance — particularly since he'll be going up against Buffafo defensive tackle Marcus Stroud — would give the Colts some piece of mind if Ryan Lilja's knee injury continues to keep him sidelined. With Richard, Charlie Johnson, Pollak (who also has a knee injury, although it doesn't sound serious) and Steve Justice, the Colts will be young at the guard position, but should still have a enough talent to compensate for the loss of Lilja.
4. Melvin Bullitt: Although less-heralded than fellow safety Sanders, Bullitt was impressive last season in limited action, and was often mentioned by Tony Dungy and Bill Polian over the summer as one of the team's most-improved players. He'll return to action tonight after missing the first three preseason games with a thumb injury.
Despite Bullitt's improvement, he now returns to a defensive backfield that's playing well, and he'll need to step in and play well from the beginning in order to assure his roster spot. Players like Brannon Condren and Jamie Silva have both played well in the preseason — Condren had two interceptions in last week's win over Atlanta — and will be looking to usurp Bullitt's position.
Dungy said of Session's play this week, "The injury set him back a little bit. Before he got hurt he was really making strides and doing a lot of good things. He had plays that you would notice in a game. They were highlight film plays for one team or the other, so we are just working to make sure there are more highlight plays for us. But, he is doing well and getting better every day."
Session is still adjusting from a switch from weak-side linebacker to the strong side, since Tyjuan Hagler is out for the foreseeable future with a pectoral injury.
Since Session will likely be manning that position until Hagler's return, it's time for him to show a bit more consistency as he gets settled in.