Indianapolis Colts: Nathan Palmer

Colts get down to mandatory 75 players

August, 27, 2013
Sorry to disappoint you, but there wasn’t any suspense with the Indianapolis Colts' roster cut down.

The Colts got down to the mandatory 75 players on Tuesday when they waived injured receiver Nathan Palmer, placed rookie safety John Boyett on the reserve/non-football injury list and moved rookie linebacker Josh McNary, who was in the Army, to the exempt list.

McNary’s exemption is under the reserve/military rules where the player reported after June 1, 2013, and has not played in the preseason. He missed the first three games with a hamstring injury.

There could be some suspense when the Colts have to get their roster down to 53 players by the 6 p.m. ET deadline Saturday.

Observation deck: Colts-Browns

August, 24, 2013

INDIANAPOLIS -- It’s not often that Indianapolis Colts quarterback Andrew Luck will take a backseat, especially on a night when he once again proved he’s ready for the start of the regular season, to anybody on the roster.

Luck did his part in leading the Colts to 17 points during his seven series on the field Saturday, but he turned out to be just a footnote because of how the defense looked against the Cleveland Browns.

Yes, the Colts defense, in particular the starters, was the dominating force. That’s the same unit that finished in the bottom third of the league in all of the major statistical categories last season.

With their starting unit together for the first time in the preseason, the Colts defense held Cleveland’s starters to four first downs, 109 yards and zero points.

Those stats aren’t from a quarter of play or even a half. The Colts did it while playing into the third quarter.

“The defense was outstanding,” Colts coach Chuck Pagano said after the 27-6 preseason victory.

It wasn’t only the starters who played well for the Colts. Their success continued after the first unit called it a night early in the third quarter.

The Colts finished with three sacks, two forced fumbles -- recovering one of them -- and they returned an interception for a touchdown. They had six sacks and an interception in their game against the New York Giants on Aug. 18.

“They’ve been opportunistic,” Luck said. “Interceptions, guys getting hands on balls, sacks, you name it. They’re playing their butts off.”

Here are other observations from the game:
  • Who needs the preseason? Not Luck. Luck completed eight of his first nine passes and finished 16-of-25 for 164 yards with two touchdowns and an interception. Saturday brought the second-year quarterback’s three-game preseason total to 29-of-44 for 322 yards, four touchdowns and an interception. Luck has taken his fair share of hits, but he’s been sacked only twice. That’s a step in the right direction for the Colts in their attempt to cut his 41 sacks from last season in half.
  • The Colts were right when they said they planned to use the fullback this season. Fullback Stanley Havili started his night off with a nice block to help spring running back Vick Ballard free for a 15-yard gain on the right side on the Colts’ first series. Havili was on the receiving end of Luck’s first touchdown pass -- from 3 yards out -- in the second quarter. The Colts have only three touchdown passes -- regular season or playoffs -- to a fullback since 2003. Havili was also responsible for Luck’s first interception of the preseason. Havili was open deep in Cleveland territory, but the ball went right through his hands and into the hands of Browns defensive back Tashaun Gipson at the Browns’ 2-yard line. Havili finished with two catches for 18 yards.
  • It was bad enough that Luck was sacked on the Colts’ opening drive. It was even worse that they lost their starting left tackle on the same play. Anthony Castonzo left the game with a right knee injury. Joe Reitz stepped in and played tackle in Castonzo’s place. Pagano said Castonzo has a mild sprain of the medial collateral ligament. He and receiver Nathan Palmer, who also injured his knee in the second half, are both scheduled to undergo MRIs on Sunday. The Colts can’t afford to be without Castonzo for an extended period of time because the offensive line is already a question mark with him in the lineup.
  • Receiver Griff Whalen was back on the field after missing the previous game with a groin injury. He came back at the right time, since rosters have to be trimmed down to 75 players by Tuesday. Whalen, the media darling during the first two weeks of training camp, made his case to be the fifth receiver -- fourth when LaVon Brazill is serving his four-game suspension at the start of the season -- by catching four passes for 57 yards from backup Matt Hasselbeck. Lack of depth at receiver has been a major concern for Colts in the preseason. Whalen helped his cause with the way he played Saturday.
  • Linebacker Caesar Rayford picked up his team-high fourth and fifth sacks of the preseason. Rayford has a unique story because he’s a 27-year-old rookie whose playing career has consisted of playing in the Canadian Football League and Arena Football League. Rayford missed out on his sixth sack of the preseason when the play was nullified by offsetting penalties.

What to watch for: Colts-Browns

August, 24, 2013
INDIANAPOLIS -- The third preseason game is the one to keep an eye on. It’s the game where you can get a better indication of where the team stands because the starting unit usually plays into the third quarter.

That’s the plan Indianapolis Colts coach Chuck Pagano has with his starters in Saturday’s game against the Cleveland Browns.

Here’s what to watch for:

1. A running attack: I'm like most of you, I'm waiting for the Colts' power-running game, discussed by offensive coordinator Pep Hamilton in training camp, to show up. The Colts haven't even teased us with anything yet. They're averaging 3.1 yards a carry in the preseason. Running back Ahmad Bradshaw won't join Vick Ballard in the backfield Saturday, because the team doesn’t want to rush Bradshaw back on the field after practicing in pads for the first time this week. Not having tight ends Coby Fleener (knee) and Dwayne Allen (foot) to block will make things more difficult for the Colts. So in other words, you likely won't see anything that resembles a power-running game until at least Week 1 against Oakland. Good thing quarterback Andrew Luck (13-of-19 and a 128.8 passer rating) has looked sharp in the preseason.

2. Stopping the run: Is giving up 115.5 yards a game on the ground in two preseason games bad? Yes, but you also have to take into consideration that the starters spent the majority of those games on the sideline watching. What is alarming, though, is that the defense has given up runs of 17, 15 and 21 yards on three of their opponent’s first four runs of the game. The starters will be tested again against Browns running back Trent Richardson. You have every reason to wonder if the defense can improve on being 29th in the league in rushing yards allowed last season if Richardson has a strong game against the starters.

3. Debut time: Speaking of the defense, it will have the starting unit on paper together for the first time in the preseason. Safety LaRon Landry (knee) and linebacker Pat Angerer (foot) are expected to play. Landry will join a secondary -- Antoine Bethea, Vontae Davis and Greg Toler -- that has been solid in the preseason. Toler, a free-agent signing in the offseason, had an interception against the New York Giants on Aug 18. Angerer and Landry are familiar with the defensive scheme, it’s a matter of them getting game reps, especially Landry. Angerer, who spent the first part of training camp on the physically unable to perform list while working his way back from offseason foot surgery, could get between 15 and 20 snaps. Rookie guard Hugh Thornton is also making his preseason debut. Thornton, who injured his ankle right before training camp, will likely back up Jeff Linkenbach at guard.

4. Final audition: Rosters must be trimmed from 90 to 75 players by Tuesday. Keep an eye on the receiver spot. The Colts are still looking for a fourth and fifth receiver. LaVon Brazill, currently the fourth receiver, is suspended the first four games of the season. Jeremy Kelley, Nathan Palmer, Jabin Sambrano, Lanear Sampson and Griff Whalen aren’t taking advantage of the opportunity. There is a reason why general manager Ryan Grigson went out and signed receiver Maurice Williams this week.

5. Special teams: Rookie Kerwynn Williams, Sambrano and Cassius Vaughn have handled kickoff return duties in the first two games. David Reed might get a shot to return kicks Saturday. He was acquired in the trade that sent running Delone Carter to Baltimore this week. Reed led the league by averaging 29.3 yards a kickoff return in 2010.
INDIANAPOLIS -- Indianapolis Colts receiver Reggie Wayne doesn’t have to prove himself. He’s done that throughout his 13-year career.

Wayne, 34, is second in team history in receptions, receiving yards and receiving touchdowns.

Still, Wayne doesn’t consider himself a lock to make the final roster when he heads to training camp every year.


Receivers like Griff Whalen, Jeremy Kelley, Nathan Palmer, David Reed, Lanear Sampson and Maurice Williams should be the ones worried about making the final 53-man roster.

Not Wayne.

But he is.

“First, let’s make it clear,’’ Wayne said. “I’m always fighting for a spot. Every year they’re going to try to find somebody to replace me. Now it’s up to me to make that a hard decision. So I don’t go out there with the mind frame that I always got a spot sewed up, because that’s when you go out and you loaf and then you got somebody else going out there 100 miles per hour.’’

Wayne didn’t say that just to appease the media group surrounding his locker.

He’s dead serious. He goes hard in practice. And he goes just as hard after practice.

Wayne spends ample time after practice catching passes off the Jugs machine. Some of Wayne’s younger teammates usually stand around enamored, watching him snag one-handed passes and balls that look like they’re going to hit the ground.

“I’m out there trying to set the tone from what Reggie Wayne can do, no matter what the situation is,’’ Wayne said.

The first round of cuts are next week, when 90-player rosters must be trimmed to 75.