NFL Nation: Chris Brooks

Kerry Collins does fine in Colts debut

September, 1, 2011
9/01/11
10:26
PM ET
Quarterback Kerry Collins first game as a member of the Indianapolis Colts was not about the stats as much as it was whether he could show that he was comfortable.

And while five-for-10 for 45 yards hardly made for a big evening, he looked like he knew what to do and where to go with the ball.

Twice he got hit by Michael Johnson. The Cincinnati defensive end got pushed wide by Indy rookie tackle Anthony Castonzo, but kept working and managed to land a meaningful swipe on Collins anyway. The first time hit forced a red-zone incompletion and the second resulted in a lost fumble.

Collins made a great deep throw down the middle for David Gilreath on his first snap and drew a pass interference penalty. And later he hit Chris Brooks deep on the left side, a pass that was dropped.

The quarterback didn’t get a completion or yardage for either.

After Collins yielded to Dan Orlovsky, owner Jim Irsay tweeted: “#5 looked good 2nite,gonna help us if #18 needs a few more weeks getting ready...but Peyton is improving rapidly..steady progress!”

Collins is No. 5 while No. 18, of course, is Peyton Manning.

I think it has to be considered an encouraging start for the backup, He could play in the season opener on Sept. 11 in Houston if Manning isn’t sufficiently recovered from the May neck surgery that kept him out of action until a recent return to limited practice.

And hey, the Colts actually won a preseason game, 17-13. It was their first preseason win since August 20, 2009.

One defensive note: Linebacker Philip Wheeler started with Kavell Conner and Ernie Sims.

Wheeler seemed a prime culprit in the Colts’ struggles against the run, getting run through on multiple occasions. Brian Leonard ranks as Cincinnati’s third back, but got the early work and managed 5.2 yards a carry.

And running back Cedric Peerman stiff-armed Wheeler after a short catch, watched him slip off and ran for more yards.

Wheeler did make a nice play tracking and dragging down Jermaine Gresham after a short catch.


With Kerry Collins on the roster and poised to take over as the primary backup to Peyton Manning, Curtis Painter fared much better working with the Colts’ offense.

In a 24-21 loss to Green Bay at Lucas Oil Stadium on Friday night, the Packers utilized one defensive element Manning typically helps Indianapolis avoid: the blitz.
Manning is masterful at making teams pay when they subtract from coverage to add to the rush. But Green Bay rolled out a steady stream of blitzes, many of which featured cornerback Charles Woodson, with no fear of such repercussions from Painter.

[+] EnlargeCurtis Painter
AP Photo/Michael ConroyWithout Peyton Manning, the Packers blitzed again and again on Curtis Painter.
Indy’s offensive line is still being sorted out, and the group didn’t do particularly well or get particularly good help in minimizing the pressure. Painter didn’t get hit so much as he had to hurry, and he was hardly at his best in such circumstances.

Desmond Bishop got flagged for roughing on one blitz, and Painter threw a ball away when Woodson looped between left tackle Anthony Castonzo and left guard Joe Reitz untouched. Another time, the quarterback made a nice throw to Reggie Wayne, who had a favorable matchup as Woodson came untouched.

No. 2 running back Donald Brown actually did reasonably well in blitz pickups, I thought, managing to keep himself between rushers and the quarterback on a couple of occasions. Still that rusher frequently contributed to a closing pocket.

The right side of the starting line, guard Ryan Diem and tackle Jeffrey Linkenbach, struggled with Clay Matthews, whose speed was more than they could handle.

Not every team is equipped to blitz the way the Packers are. But if it’s Collins instead of Manning on Sept. 11 in Houston, odds are the Texans will blitz more often and with less fear. And the Colts and Collins will have to be prepared to handle it.

Some other thoughts on what was nearly a rare Colts preseason win:

  • While Painter was better, it took a blown coverage that left Wayne wide open for a 57-yard touchdown to get him going. His second touchdown pass, to Chris Brooks, was very nice. Earlier Painter suffered because of a drop by Wayne and another by Pierre Garcon.
  • Ernie Sims was active in a lot of first-half action, his first since he signed with the Colts. Tommie Harris played for the second time, and made some plays with a sack and a tipped pass.
  • Jermichael Finley's touchdown catch on Pat Angerer was great. Angerer was tight but not turned. There aren’t many linebackers who could make a play against that.
  • According to CBS, Robert Mathis injured his hamstring in the first quarter hamstring and did not return. His counterpart at end, Dwight Freeney, made things very difficult on Green Bay tackle Chad Clifton, bulling over him a few times before using the patented spin move.
  • Diem, who false started too much last season at right guard, got called for one. An injury forced him from the game for a time, but he returned to action. Mike Pollak stepped in briefly. Jeff Saturday was the lone offensive lineman who didn’t play into the third quarter, as Pollak replaced him. Then the second-team offensive line was, left to right, Michael Toudouze, Kyle DeVan, Jamey Richard, Mike Tepper and Ben Ijalana. Richard was flagged for holding but it was declined.
  • I expect good things out of rookie running back Delone Carter, mostly because I very much like the idea of Carter. This team needs a short-yardage goal-line back. He was hardly working against front line defenders, I understand. But he not only got a tough yard -- converting a third-and-1 when there was nothing there -- but he had a couple of nice longer runs. A lost fumble was overturned by challenge, and a wide run with a spin move suggested he can be more than just a between-the-tackles pounder. He did look lost in one pass-protection situation.
  • Defensive back Chip Vaughn was waved off the field by Jim Caldwell after back-to-back penalties. After an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty worth 15 yards and a taunting penalty worth 11 yards, the Colts gave up a touchdown and a two-point conversion, lost an onside kick and saw Green Bay move to a game-winning field goal. Vaughn will not have a good weekend. And the Colts just about refuse to win in the preseason.

SPONSORED HEADLINES

Roster Advisor

NFL SCOREBOARD

Thursday, 12/18
Saturday, 12/20
Sunday, 12/21
Monday, 12/22
WEEKLY LEADERS