NFL Nation: 2013 preseason reaction Week 2 Colts-Giants

Observation deck: Colts-Giants

August, 19, 2013
8/19/13
12:06
AM ET

The transition to being more of a run-oriented team is still a work in progress for the Indianapolis Colts.

That’s understandable when the quarterback is Andrew Luck, who set three rookie passing records last season.

Indianapolis gained 22 yards on eight rushes while Luck was in the game during their 20-12 victory over the New York Giants on Sunday.

That stat is misleading. Luck gained 14 yards scrambling on one play. You don’t have to be a math major to realize that means the Colts gained a total of eight yards on their seven other rushes.

Ouch.

The Colts have attempted 19 passes and 11 runs in two preseason games with Luck on the field.

Establishing the run will make things easier for Luck. The Colts want to avoid having him throw the ball 50 times a game, and it’ll open things up for opportunities downfield, especially once Ahmad Bradshaw (foot) joins Vick Ballard in the backfield.

Luck played like he's ready for the regular season against the Giants. He also had some good fortune.

Luck was under pressure when he threw a pass that should have been intercepted by Giants cornerback Aaron Ross. Ross hit the ball up in the air and Reggie Wayne, for whom the pass was intended, also tapped the ball in the air before coming down with it in the end zone.

Luck finished 9-of-13, including completing nine of his last 10 attempts, for 107 yards, two touchdowns and no sacks. Luck’s second touchdown to T.Y. Hilton was perfectly thrown right out of the reach of the Giants defender. Hilton showed off his footwork by keeping both feet in bounds.

Luck completed passes to four different players, including his top three receivers Wayne, Darrius Heyward-Bey and Hilton (four catches, 42 yards).

The Colts finished the game with more rush attempts -- 33 for 88 yards -- than pass attempts -- 28.

Other observations:
  • Two of general manager Ryan Grigson’s free-agent signings had impressive performances. Linebacker Erik Walden (six tackles) easily beat Giants tackle David Diehl for a sack on Giants quarterback Eli Manning in the second quarter. The Colts are looking for another player besides Robert Mathis to put pressure on the quarterback. Cornerback Greg Toler came underneath and intercepted a Manning pass intended for Hakeem Nicks. Toler’s aggressiveness isn’t surprising. That’s how the Colts secondary has played throughout camp.
  • After spending the first quarter not getting any pressure on the quarterback, the Colts finally got it going after Walden’s sack. They finished with six sacks. Linebacker Caesar Rayford and defensive end Drake Nevis each had two sacks. Colts coach Chuck Pagano told reporters after the game that Rayford, a former Arena Football League player, will make things difficult once it’s time to trim the roster down.
  • Tight end Coby Fleener's preseason hasn’t gone well. He left the game with a sprained knee. The sprained knee added to another unimpressive performance. He dropped what should have been a long catch and run from Luck in the first quarter. Then, he wasn’t looking for the ball coming across the middle on a pass from backup Matt Hasselbeck in the second quarter. Sunday’s performance added to to his fumble, dropped touchdown and concussion during the Aug. 11 game against Buffalo. The Colts have high hopes for Fleener and fellow second-year tight end Dwayne Allen this season. Allen is out with a foot injury and Fleener can’t hold onto the ball to go with his now sprained knee. That’s not good.
  • Rookie linebacker Bjoern Werner had an impact in his preseason debut. He made a tackle for a 4-yard loss and barely missed out on a sack. Werner is making the transition from playing on the defensive line at Florida State to being a rushing linebacker.
  • Veteran kicker Adam Vinatieri used his 40-year-old leg to nail a 52-yard field goal on the final play of the first quarter. The 52-yarder was Vinatieri’s longest since he made a 53-yard kick against Tennessee last season.

Observation deck: Colts-Giants

August, 18, 2013
8/18/13
11:31
PM ET

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- For the benefit of those who are new around here, I'll restate this: I simply will not overreact to preseason NFL games. If you, as a fan, want to do that, that's fine with me. But don't come here expecting me to join in. So if you want me to tell you to be worried that the New York Giants had trouble scoring in the red zone in Sunday night's 20-12 "loss" to the Indianapolis Colts, or that they struggled to cover receivers, or that Eli Manning didn't look sharp, too bad. You're going to have to go get that somewhere else. History clearly shows us that preseason games offer no predictive value whatsoever. Teams aren't game-planning for each other this time of year, and the fact that one team's offense/defense was effective/ineffective against another's on Aug. 18 is simply immaterial. How bad the Giants looked Sunday night means no more than how bad the Cowboys looked Saturday or how good the Eagles looked Thursday. It's the wrong place to focus.

So what we do here when we break down preseason games is highlight some individual performances or personnel patterns that might turn out to be noteworthy or significant. And, of course, we discuss injuries, which is where we will start Sunday night.
  • Wide receiver Victor Cruz and center David Baas both left the game during the first offensive series for X-rays, which turned out to be negative. The Giants say Baas has a knee sprain and Cruz has a heel bruise. Both are likely to get more tests, Baas especially. And while the news on Cruz obviously could have been worse, it's worth watching to see whether this is something that limits him this week in practice.
  • "He runs to make his living, and, obviously, he's got an issue with his heel," Giants coach Tom Coughlin said of Cruz. "Hopefully, it's not going to be a long thing. They're going to continue to do some tests on him."
  • Justin Tuck also left the game with a hamstring injury. Prior to that, I personally thought Tuck looked great. I'd singled him out prior to the game as someone I was going to watch, and in the first quarter he looked quick and energized as he hassled Colts quarterback Andrew Luck and batted down a pass. An energized Tuck would be a tremendous positive for the Giants this season, provided, of course, that energy comes with fully healthy hamstrings.
  • David Wilson is a lot of fun to watch run. He broke a 21-yarder and threw in a 16-yard reception on which he almost impossibly avoided falling to the ground along the sideline. But unless I missed one, there wasn't a single third down during his part of the game on which he wasn't replaced by Andre Brown. We know how important pass protection is going to be when evaluating these running backs and assigning them carries, and it seems clear that the Giants trust Brown more in pass protection right now than they trust Wilson. Brown looked good picking up blitzing safety Antoine Bethea on a third-down play in the second quarter that resulted in an 11-yard pass to Rueben Randle. Can that change before the season starts? Sure, and certainly before it ends. But a Wilson/Brown backfield committee looks like the plan right now. Brown had 36 yards on eight carries and caught one pass. Wilson had 34 yards on eight carries and caught two passes. Wilson did not return any kickoffs.
  • Michael Cox looks like a keeper, and not just because he looks like a non-Wilson option on kick returns. Cox had just two carries for four yards but also had two long receptions out of the backfield -- one for 20 yards and another for 28. "He's got a lot of fight," Coughlin said. "He breaks tackles, and he's very persistent in what he does. And he does the same thing on special teams, so he's making good progress." Cox is obviously ahead of Da'Rel Scott, who did not play in the game, in pursuit of a roster spot. And it's possible he could pass Ryan Torain on the depth chart as well, though Torain went into the game before he did and shows a lot as a blocker.
  • Right tackle David Diehl got beaten badly on a couple of plays, one of which resulted in an Erik Walden sack of Manning. But the Giants seem committed to playing him at right tackle over first-round rookie Justin Pugh, who's being brought along slowly. The offensive line is tough to judge because right guard Chris Snee barely played (he's still recovering from offseason hip surgery) and Baas went out early.
  • Lots of moving the linebackers in and out. Tough to pick out anything that either Mark Herzlich or Dan Connor did to separate himself in the middle linebacker competition. Jacquian Williams showed excellent speed and quickness in short-range coverage on a third-down pass attempt by Matt Hasselbeck to Robert Hughes in the third quarter. Williams is likely the Giants' best coverage linebacker and as such was used mainly on passing downs.
  • Justin Trattou had a sack on which he got help from Marvin Austin and Adewale Ojomo in collapsing the pocket. It was a decent night for the Giants' backup defensive ends in terms of creating pressure, even though they got only one sack. As for the defensive tackles, Austin looked fine on that one play but, in general, doesn't show much power at the point of attack. Second-round pick Johnathan Hankins looks like he could stand to get stronger as well.
  • Coughlin said last week that David Carr would play this game and Curtis Painter would play Saturday's game against the Jets. With fourth-rounder Ryan Nassib sure to make the team as the No. 3 quarterback, Carr and Painter are competing for the No. 2 job. Carr was just meh -- seven for 11, 57 yards -- and he got sacked three times. I guess if Painter looks great, he could win the job. But the Giants know and like Carr, so it's no sure thing.
  • And, finally, on the Reggie Wayne touchdown catch that first bounced off the hands of cornerback Aaron Ross: Ross said the lights blinded him and he lost the ball. He said he usually wears eye black or special contact lenses that help with that, but for some reason he wasn't wearing them Sunday. "Just one of those freak plays that thankfully doesn't count," Ross said. "I knew he was behind me, so as soon as I hit it, I looked back and … it was bad."

Preseason, though, Aaron. Just preseason. As Ross pointed out, it didn't count. None of it. And while Coughlin was annoyed about the performance, that's his job -- to keep giving these guys things to work on in the final three weeks before the start of the regular season.

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