Five to Watch: Jaguars at Colts

There are plenty of plotlines to follow during Sunday's home battle against Jacksonville. How will the Colts adjust without Bob Sanders? Will they improve their run defense, and can they get their running game back on track? ColtPower.com's Greg Talmage has five players he'll be keeping an eye on Sunday afternoon.

1. Reggie Wayne: Over the years, the Colts have consistently burned the Jaguars No. 2 corners. That was especially true last season when Wayne went 14 for 14 against CB Brian Williams. This offseason, Jacksonville signed Drayton Florence away from San Diego in hopes of solidifying the secondary.

So far in two games, Florence has yet to play up to his high salary. Drayton can be a sucker for double moves. He also has a tendency to sit on routes, something that can be a formula for disaster against a skilled route-running receiving corps like the Colts.

In years past, the Jaguars have always lined up their best corner — Rashean Mathis — on Marvin Harrison. With the drop in Harrison's production lately and Wayne's history of burning his defensive backs, I'm curious to see if Jack Del Rio makes a change and has Mathis shadow Wayne all over the field.

And all over the field is exactly what Mathis will be doing if covering Reggie. The Sporting News detailed just how active Wayne was formation-wise last week in Minnesota, "He [Reggie] aligned on both the left and right side as the X and Z. He also aligned in both the right and left slots, and they put him in motion over a half-dozen times."

If Mathis is back in his usual position across from Harrison expect Jacksonville to trust Mathis to cover Harrison without help. That will leave safeties and outside backers to help against Reggie and Anthony Gonzalez.

Look for Indianapolis to move receivers around again this weekend as they look for matchups to exploit, although having TE Dallas Clark back might bring a little normalcy back to the offense formations.

2. Keyunta Dawson and 3. Raheem Brock: Just like Indianapolis in the first two weeks, Jacksonville has also been playing without three starting interior offensive lineman. As a result, the Jaguar running games has suffered, although they did show some signs of life last week against Buffalo. It was inconsistent on a whole, but a pulse was detected.


Raheem Brock and Keyunta Dawson need to step up against the run this week
Getty Images/Elsa

Jacksonville is a run-first team. Don't expect that to change at all this week against a Colts team ranked close to last in the NFL against the rush and missing its best run-defender. Look for the Jags to call plenty of runs behind RG Uche Nwaneri and RT Tony Pashos, who are considered the club's road graders.

That means LDT Keyunta Dawson and LE Raheem Brock will see runs in their direction all afternoon. It's key that each get off blocks well and not let Nwaneri and Pashos push them around.

Dawson can use his speed to his advantage against Nwaneri. By shooting the gap and penetrating into the backfield, it will cause Jaguars running backs to change directions and thus take longer for plays to develop.

4. Melvin Bullitt: Melvin has some big shoes to fill replacing NFL Defensive Player of Year Bob Sanders. I'll be curious to see exactly what Indianapolis does with Bullitt for four quarters. Does Indianapolis go back to showing a base Cover 2 or is Bullitt a frequent entry into the box like Sanders?

My guess is that Ron Meeks will show a little of both. Bullitt is not an enforcer like Sanders, but he has the speed to play well against the run, and look for the Jaguars to test his side of the field deep on occasion, especially if Jerry Porter returns to the lineup.

5. Joseph Addai: So far this season, Joseph Addai is averaging 2.4 yards per attempt and has been tackled for a loss on seven of his 27 carries. Those are not good numbers any way you look at them.

The Colts know they can't be one-dimensional against a good team like Jacksonville. Addai, just like the Jaguars backs, has been plagued by a depleted interior offensive line and the fact that his quarterback's knee prohibits various kinds of handoffs. In years past, the Jaguars have been the last team to try and get the running game healthy on.

Running the ball well is integral for the Indianapolis. ColtPower Editor-In-Chief Eric Hartz detailed how an anemic running game adversely effects a former staple of the Colts offense — the play-action fake: "When the running game is virtually non-existent, as it has been the last two weeks, that takes away one of Manning's best weapons — the play-action pass. It used to be that the Colts would run enough to set this play up, and Manning carries out his fakes well enough to get several big plays out of it each game," Hartz told Charlie Bernstein of JagNation.com. "But with no reason to respect the run, and with Manning's mobility still a bit of a concern, play-action isn't a good option for the Colts right now."

If the Colts can get Addai back on track, it's the first step to putting their offense back in its usual high gear.


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