INDIANAPOLIS — The starting units that take the field for the Indianapolis Colts against the Cincinnati Bengals on Thursday will be drastically different from those that take the field for the regular-season opener against the Oakland Raiders at Lucas Oil Stadium on Sept. 8.
A number of players have missed all or part of the preseason with injuries or recovering from injuries, but the Colts feel like they'll have just about all of them in the lineup against the Raiders.
Coach Chuck Pagano said Tuesday that Allen (ankle), Fleener (knee) and McGlynn (knee) will be ready for Oakland. Bradshaw started practicing in pads last week.
The only question among the starters -- at this very moment -- is left tackle Anthony Castonzo. He's dealing with a sprained medial collateral ligament in his left knee. The goal is to have him ready for the opener, but there's no guarantee that will happen.
Considering what the Colts were dealing with early in training camp, the fact that they could have almost every starter -- possibly even all of them -- for the opener is a huge accomplishment.
Everybody saw what the defense can do when healthy when it shut down the Cleveland Browns last weekend.
The next step is to see what the offense looks like when healthy. Allen won't play in the preseason, but that shouldn't be a problem, because the team knows what to expect from him.
Bradshaw also won't play in the preseason -- something the Colts say they aren't worried about -- but you have to wonder how long it'll take for him to find a rhythm with his new teammates.
The last time Fleener was on the field -- Aug. 18 against the New York Giants -- he dropped another pass. It remains to be seen if his preseason struggles will wear mentally on the second-year player.
If things go as smoothly for the offense as they did for the defense when that unit's starters got together for the first time, the Colts won’t have much to worry about.