Saturday, August 18, 2012

Preseason Gameday 2: Indianapolis Colts

Heinz Field
TV: NBC (nationally televised)
Radio: WDVE and other affiliates

What to Watch For

1. Opening Up the Playbook

The Steelers didn't do much on offense in the first game in terms of play-calling. Haley's first offensive game was fairly vanilla, mostly short passes that got the ball out fast and let the receivers do their thing. As the preseason moves on and the starters play more, it's likely Haley will open up the playbook and show some more. The starters figure to play into the second quarter this week, and Haley mentioned during the week that he might even install a basic gameplan this week after not wanting to tip their cards to the Eagles last week, since the two teams will meet again later in the season.

2. Batch Brothers

No, they're not really brothers, but Baron Batch figures to see the lion's share of the work in the running game while Charlie Batch should see his first action of the preseason. In the case of the former, we'd love to see him build on the success he had in the Eagles game, particularly late in the game as he seemed to run harder as the game went on. Baron's recovery from a torn ACL last year has been a fantastic story and we're all rooting for him to make the team. Charlie Batch is the consummate pro, but the biggest thing for him in this game is not to get injured. The Steelers are thin at quarterback with no real options for a #3 behind Homestead Charlie.

3. Roster Battles

The Steelers threw the fandom for a bit of a loop this week when they activated Casey Hampton and Rashard Mendenhall from the Physically Unable to Perform list. Neither will play in this game, but we were not expecting Mendenhall back and ready for action before the start of the season. This means there will be less roster spots open for the fringe roster players as we detailed in our Week 2 Roster Battles post, but the competition is still on for the last 7 roster spots.

4. The Return of Arians

We were not the biggest fans of Bruce Arians during his tenure as Steelers offensive coordinator, and to be honest, we didn't cry and tears when he left. Now, Bruce returns as the offensive coordinator for the Colts with Andrew Luck at the helm of his offense. Will Dick LeBeau turn the dogs loose on an offense he probably has a very good idea of how to attack? Possibly, but we're more interested to see how Andrew Luck executes the offense. We saw the Steelers struggle in some key situations over Arians 5-year tenure, and it will be interesting to see how different players perform in the same offense.

5. No Injuries

Once again, this is one of the most important things that can happen in this game. Winning or losing isn't nearly as important as avoiding injuries. The Steelers are surprisingly slim at a lot of positions, and avoiding serious injuries in a game that really doesn't mean anything is of the utmost importance.

Behind Enemy Lines

Our buddy Nate Dunlevy who writes for Colts Authority, runs the AFC South Blog over at the Bleacher Report, and is the author of the book Invincible, Indiana took time out of his busy schedule to give us some perspective on the Colts. You can find him on Twitter @NateDunlevy

1. This is the second preseason game, so the starters will likely play most of the first half for both teams and we may see them go a little deeper into their playbooks than in the first game. That being said, what are you looking for from the Colts for this game to be considered a "success"?

For the Colts, success simply means no one gets hurt. The team had several injuries, including losing starting linebacker Pat Angerer in the first game, and they can't afford to repeat that process.

Beyond that, they want to try and repeat the offensive consistency they showed against Saint Louis.

2. There's the obvious connection between these two teams as former Steelers offensive coordinator Bruce Arians is now calling the plays for the Colts. It obviously won't be a full playbook, but wer're interested to see how a different group of players/personnel executes Arians offense (which many Steelers fans thought was ineffective here). Are there any specific matchups you're looking forward to watching?

Obviously all eyes are on Andrew Luck. It will be interesting to see how he fares against the Steelers pass rush. 

On the flip side, Indianapolis defense will be seeking to get pressure on Roethlisberger.

3. Which Colts players are you looking for the most improvement out of during this preseason?

The offensive line had a miserable start on Sunday. They are the unit that most needs to gel to keep the Colts in games this year. 

4. Any players lower on the depth chart that might be surprises in the later stages of this game?

Keep an eye on LaVon Brazill and T.Y. Hilton at wideout. I wouldn't be surprised to see one or both jump Donnie Avery on the depth chart.

The Colts aren't a deep roster, so there's not much talent beyond the obvious. 

5. Any other final thoughts?

It's all about Luck.  

First game of the year at Heinz Field.

Here. We. Go.

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