Curtis Painter: Once again, Painter saw a lot of action. He improved his ability to press the ball down the field, with 7.4 yards per attempt and an impressive 10.5 yards per completion.
He still failed to complete 60 percent of his passes, but he looked good moving in the pocket and kept his eyes focused upfield, trying to find an open receiver instead of turning to run, which is a good sign for a young player. Usually, someone with young legs and a young brain will try to gain yards on his own, but Painter remembered to trust his receivers and tried his best to find someone before checking down.
He did make a bad read on his interception, one of two turnovers on the game for the Colts, but Jim Caldwell will no doubt help him to learn from his mistakes. This still looks like Jim Sorgi's job to lose, but Painter is making a very compelling argument to be kept on as the emergency quarterback, or at least as a member of the practice squad.
Chris Crane: Crane had only one attempt and was released this week so that Indianapolis could sign other players, so it goes without saying that he was not one of the bright points of the game.
Donald Brown: Although he had only three carries and one catch, he looked smooth and had an opportunity to work with the first team. The Colts decided to focus on Lance Ball at tailback and, aside from Ball's 19 carries, no other running back touched the ball more than Brown.
Colts fans shouldn't read too much into the fact that Brown barely saw the field, as Joseph Addai saw a similar workload. What matters is that Brown continued to show good vision and flashed some ability to catch the ball out of the back field. A better determination will be made in the third and fourth preseason games, when Brown should shoulder more of the load, particularly in the fourth game.
The rookies failed to distinguish themselves, but the star of an underwhelming group was Fili Moala. He consistently beat his man, forcing the play to the linebackers for a minimal gain, or held his ground at the point of attack, which was a rare sight for interior defensive linemen in 2008.
Collie again showed he's ahead of the learning curve for a rookie receiver
Scott Boehm/Getty Images
Moala finished with only two tackles and did not pressure the quarterback, but he showed enough to be the best of this lot.
Terrance Taylor was once again part of the scenery, which does not bode well for him, considering that Adrian Grady was at least able to penetrate the line of scrimmage on occasion, making the ball carrier change direction and disrupting the flow of the play. Grady didn't show up on the stat sheet, but at least he made more of an impression than Taylor.
Mike Tauiliili and Ramon Humber were likely the impetus behind Adam Seward's release. Tauiliili came in and made the tackle when Moala and Grady were able to keep him clean and/or re-direct the ball carrier in his direction. He had four tackles, but obviously his impact was felt beyond the stat sheet, as Seward is no longer on the roster and Tauiliili is.
Humber was made his presence felt on special teams in coverage as opposed to on defense, but still made a favorable impression. Indianapolis is looking for quality, young depth that can contribute in the kicking game and perform when pressed into service at this point and Humber and Tauiliili are excellent examples of how they've been able to find undrafted free agents that can fit into their system.
Jerraud Powers was, for the most part, very smooth and natural and looks as though he could make the team as a special teams contributor and sub package specialist.
Powers had four tackles total on defense and special teams and looked equally comfortable covering receivers and kicks. He failed to distinguish himself as a returner when given the opportunity, though, which is really more good news for T.J. Rushing and Pierre Garcon than it is bad news for Powers, who has shown more than enough on defense and special teams to make the roster.
Jacob Lacey and Travis Key finished with two tackles apiece, but Key had a critical special teams tackle, since neither player is likely to make the roster as a defensive backup. At this point, with the way the Powers has established himself on defense and Rushing has separated himself as a return specialist, Key and Lacey need to start making plays in return coverage.
Unless they improve markedly in this area in the next two games — and the Colts can probably only keep one of them — they will not make the team.
Receivers and Tight Ends:
Austin Collie continued to distinguish himself as a smooth receiver that is ahead of the rookie curve. Although he had only three targets and two receptions for 32 yards, he was the primary target on two of those occasions and should make the final cut as either quality depth, or a contributing member of the receiving corps, depending on what Garcon and Taj Smith are able to show the coaches when given more playing time in the next two games.
Collie is a quality young player, though, and should play an important role on the team in the coming seasons, given his work ethic and his ability to work in the offensive system.
John Matthews had only one target and one catch for 17 yards. He blocked well and did what he was told/supposed to do, but there is too much talent available and too many options for Indianapolis for him to simply blend in and not do anything wrong. Matthews needs to stand out with a stellar performance and he failed to do that against Philadelphia.
Colin Cloherty was absent from the stat sheet once again and was not targeted in the game. With the depth at tight end, he appears to be on the outside looking in. The best he can hope for is to showcase his talents in the next two games and claim a spot on the practice squad.
Brett McDermott had zero receptions and one target. With precious roster spots up for grabs, he cannot afford to play second fiddle to Matthews, who did not exactly light the world on fire.
Jaimie Thomas: In his first action at guard, Thomas seemed to adjust well enough, but also got pushed around quite a bit at the point of attack. He didn't show a mean streak and failed to display the kind of signature play — stoning a defensive tackle at the point, pushing a linebacker ten yards down the field, making a pancake block on a safety — that a young guard needs to make on a team filled with young talent along the interior of the offensive line.
He will have his shot in two weeks, but he really needs to distinguish himself to make a roster that is deep at the position, especially since the Colts already have a number of players like Thomas that can play multiple positions in the front five.
Shane Andrus was three for three on field goal attempts and made both extra point attempts, but has no realistic chance to make the roster, given that Adam Vinatieri seems to have settled into that role. Realistically, though, he has shown enough so far to make a roster for another team.
Pat McAfee played quite well, although Indianapolis coaches and fans would have preferred to not seen so much of him. He punted six times for a gross of only 37 yards per kick, but a net of 35 yards per kick. He displayed the kind of directional punting and hang time that an NFL team needs to be successful in coverage.
Heading into the 2009 season, with an emphasis on the kicking game, McAfee has shown exactly what he needs to show to prove the he can be an effective punter in this league. Given the leg strength that he flashed in the first preseason game, it would be interesting to see how he would fare if he had the opportunity to kickoff.
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