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Players Fighting for a Roster Spot vs the Bengals

Posted by Andrew Aziz on August 28, 2014 at 12:20 AM Comments comments (0)

The Indianapolis Colts will be playing against the Cincinnati Bengals in the final game of the preseason. Which players have legitimate chances of making the roster and will need to have great game to earn that spot.


Zurlon Tipton -- Running Back

It's impossible for Tipton to overtake Dan Herron on the depth chart at this point in the preseason, but Tipton can still fight for a #4 running back job. He will need to prove himself on special teams and he will need to prove his worth over there. Tipton has good potential and has performed relatively well this preseason, but if the Colts decide to keep 3 running backs, he's out of luck even with a great performance.

Weslye Saunders -- Tight End

Personally, I think Saunders has lost the #3 tight end job and is now fighting for a roster spot. He has not played well this preseason and will need to have a great performance in the 4th game to make the roster (or even have a chance). 

Zach Kerr -- Defensive Tackle/Nose Tackle

Zach Kerr has not only been one of the best defensive players on the Colts, but he has been one of the best defensive players in the NFL this preseason. His dance moves and his motor are slowly securing his spot on the team. His chances are very good but he will most likely need another good performance to solidify his spot. Even with a bad performance, his chances are still good, but a good performance will lock everything up. 

Kelvin Sheppard -- Inside Linebacker

Sheppard is the only veteran with extensive NFL experience on this list. Sheppard spent last season with the Colts and was inconsistent at best. This preseason, he's horrendous in coverage and one step behind in run defense. His experience could allow him to make this team, but he's no lock. He will need to prove to the coaches that he's worth keeping and that it's also worth keeping his 1.4M cap hit. Sheppard could be on the way out, especially if he has a bad performance.

Henoc Muamba -- Inside Linebacker

Muamba seems like another great find from the CFL. Muamba has performed very well this preseason, but is playing at a very crowded position with two established starters. McNary is a lock as well, and that leaves 4 other players (including Muamba) fighting for 1 or 2 spots. Muamba is definitely talented and good enough to play in the NFL, but will the surplus of talent at inside linebacker make him miss the roster. He'll need a good final performance and outplay his competitors to prove to the coaches that they should keep him. He should get a lot of playing time.

Dewey McDonald -- Safety

McDonald has been one of the top performers for the Colts this preseason. McDonald has only gotten reps against 3rd stringers and some backups, but he has been a playmaker when on the field. Many say McDonald is a perfect practice squad player, which is true, but I believe he could be a good depth player and special teamer on the active roster. In the 4th game, he should look to have a big impact on special teams. That is where he will leave his impression. If he shines on special teams, the coaches will look to keep him around (as he's also impressed as a safety).



Colts Cut 11; Get Down to 79

Posted by Andrew Aziz on August 25, 2014 at 11:30 AM Comments comments (0)

The Indianapolis Colts have cut eleven players and have gotten down to 79 players. They must get to 75 before the Tuesday, 4pm deadline.


The first round of cuts have started and the Colts have waived the following players:

Johnny Adams -- Cornerback

Qua Cox -- Cornerback

Andre Cureton -- Guard

Marcus Hall -- Guard

Kameron Jackson -- Cornerback

Nu'Keese Richardson -- Wide Receiver

Jonathan Sharpe -- Linebacker

David Sims -- Safety

Eric Thomas -- Wide Receiver

Tony Washington -- Wide Receiver

Cameron White -- Fullback


There will be four more cuts by tomorrow afternoon. The cutdown date after that will be on August 30th, where teams will need to get down to 53 players.

Colts-Saints Recap

Posted by Andrew Aziz on August 24, 2014 at 5:35 PM Comments comments (0)

 

In what was the exact opposite of last week’s performance, the Colts’ starters were sloppy whereas the backups looked sharp and nearly lead a comeback.

 


The third preseason game is where the starters get the most time and it best represents how the team looks. If this is an indicator of how the Colts will play this season, the fans and the coaches should be scared. The starters looked weak. The offense took awhile before it got on track and they never got the running game going until Dan Herron and the backups came in. The defense failed to stop the run, with its lowlight coming when 11-year veteran ran for 28 yards untouched.

As mentioned earlier, Andrew Luck and the starters were definitely not on their game. The offensive line, especially the interior offensive line, was very weak and they allowed a lot of pressure up the middle. Luck was scrambling a lot and needed to force some throws as well. Trent Richardson was shaky but he showed some nice flashes out there. He wasn’t terrible. The receivers continue to look sharp. It was great to see Reggie out there. The best receiver was Griff Whalen, who continues to have a great season. He is amongst the best Colts this preseason. The highlight of the night was seeing Coby Fleener catch a nice touchdown and faking out everyone in the building by pretending to dunk the ball over the goalpost. I don’t think he wants to lose 2% of his salary.

On defense, there were a few good performances, but overall, it was a dismal performance. D’Qwell Jackson had a rough night with trouble in coverage and some missed tackles. It was disappointing but maybe it wakes him up for the season. The defensive backs, the starting ones, weren’t solid. Davis and Butler missed some key tackles and Butler was even beaten in coverage. They lacked much of a presence up front and couldn’t get much going against Drew Brees. The pass rush was silent and they were able to drive it down the field easily.

The backups and 3rd stringers looked nice. There were some great plays from Chandler Harnish and I liked the way he played. Boom Herron was the player of the night with some big runs and continues to improve. I’d argue he’s a lock for the roster. Zurlon Tipton has his moments too, but Herron overshadowed him.

The backup defense looked better and Gordy even had a nice interception. Zach Kerr had another great game and he continues to improve.

Finally, I didn’t like what Chuck and the coaches did in terms of play calling and its gameplan. Some of the play calls; especially the ones in the redzone were weak and not well thought out. They needed to be sharp in that area because if they score on that goal line stand, the Colts win the game. It also seemed as if the Saints coaches were always one step ahead.

This was definitely a game to forget for the Colts and they’ll need to be sharp and ready to go for Week 1, as the starters will get only 1 series (some will get 2) next week.

 

 


Colts-Giants Recap

Posted by Andrew Aziz on August 17, 2014 at 4:25 AM Comments comments (0)

 

Although the starters and backups of the Indianapolis Colts demolished the New York Giants, the 3rd and 4th stringers let them down and allowed a monumental Giants comeback.

 


The Colts were dominant from the beginning. The offense looked composed, in sync and on the ball. They went pass heavy very early on and they moved the ball very efficiently. With Reggie Wayne and TY Hilton out, Hakeem Nicks was the #1 guy and he stepped up and delivered a blow to his old team, hauling in 5 catches. Luck was perfect as well, extending plays with his feet and throwing darts to the perfect places. The offensive line was up and down. Although Jonotthan Harrison held his own, the starting tackles Gosder Cherilus and Anthony Castonzo struggled out there. The pressure came heavily from the edge and they had a hard time picking it up and it forced Luck to climb the pocket. When the interior O-line is playing well, the tackles are not, and vice versa. They never are in sync!

The defense looked terrific. The defensive line got a lot pressure and penetration on the offensive line and was able to shut down the running game. Bjoern Werner got some pressure on the outside and hustled on a lot of plays. He looked much improved. D’Qwell Jackson showed good blitzing ability, getting a sack on Manning. The defense also shut down long passing plays. They held the Giants starters to 7 yards of offense, which is beyond great.

The 2nd stringers continued the dirty work. Matt Hasselbeck looked like he was 10 years younger and even that group of players looked in sync. The Giants couldn’t get anything going until the 4th quarter, but when they did, they rolled over the Colts like tank versus a Coke can.

The Giants came on very strong in the 4th quarter. They were relentless on offense and capitalized on the Colts’ mistakes, with the biggest one being Phillip Tanner fumble. In a matter of 30 seconds, the Giants were within 12 points. They continued the onslaught and drove down the field with ease and got another touchdown. Then, down by 5, on 4th down, Nassib throws a strike to a wide-open receiver and the drive continues until finally he finds Corey Washington in the endzone and beat his man one-on-one for the touchdown. Harnish, who looked very weak at times, fought back and drove the Colts down. He and the offense gave punter Pat McAfee a chance to win the game with a 64-yard field goal, only to have the great effort sail wide. Despite the fact that he missed the kick, he confirmed the fact that he has a giant leg and can become a kicker. He’s probably worth a shot at offensive guard too.

All in all, it’s obvious that the starters are ready to go as they dominated from the opening snap. The defense really impressed me as they completely shut down an offense with some very good players. This team is trending upwards and next week will be a good tell to see if they are for real as the starters will see most of the 1st half against the New Orleans Saints.

 


 

Colts Player of the Game: Hakeem Nicks – Got the final laugh with a nice performance against his old team.

Most Improved Player: Louchiez Purifoy – Purifoy has moved up to the 2nd stringers on defense and he had a big return as a punt returner.

Play of the Game: Pat McAfee’s 64-yard game winning attempt that sailed just a bit wide left.

Baffling Decision of the Day: Leaving in Cory Redding, the oldest player on the defense, for extended minutes, only to have him get injured (but he’s fine now).

Who’s On the Red Eye Flight Home: Phillip Tanner – He’s the 5th string running back and his fumble cost the Colts a touchdown. His ticket was bought and his bags were packed 75 seconds after that play occurred.

 


Is Andrew Luck One of the Favorites for MVP?

Posted by Andrew Aziz on August 15, 2014 at 5:45 PM Comments comments (0)

 

Andrew Luck has been the heart and soul of the Colts for the past 2 seasons and he is only getting better. Is he a legitimate MVP candidate and if so, is he one of the favorites?

 


Andrew Luck has had a very successful first two years of his career and has emerged as perhaps the best young quarterback in the game. His 11 game winning drives is the most in NFL history for quarterbacks in their first two seasons. Luck also has a total of 46 touchdowns with over 7000 yards. Luck has also turned around a team that had two wins in 2011 to a team that made the playoffs two years in a row with one playoff win. Luck has done a lot and has an important role with the Colts.

Is Andrew Luck a candidate for MVP? Luck has garnered a minimal amount of MVP talk over the past two seasons. In his rookie season, it seemed like Reggie Wayne was more of a candidate than Luck, but Luck still got some attention. Last year, after Wayne went down, his importance only increased and there was some talk about him being in the conversation. He was never a threat to take the award, but people have mentioned his name. When considering all the possible candidates, you see a lot of quarterbacks and rightfully so. The quarterback is the leader of the offense and the team. Everyone rallies around the quarterback, so it’s easy to understand why six of the last seven, and MVP winners have been quarterbacks. Considering the fact that he’s the quarterback and star of the Colts, one of the better teams in the league, and continues to improve and has been mentioned before in the MVP discussion, he is a legitimate candidate for the 2014 season.

Is he a favorite? This is where it gets tricky. According to Bodog, Andrew Luck is a 12-1 favorite for winning the MVP award, making him the 5th favorite. The guys above him are the Elite 4 quarterbacks. of the NFL: Manning, Rodgers, Brees and Brady. Bodog believes that Luck is an MVP favorite, but is he really? As mentioned earlier, the winner is always a member of a playoff team and has a main role on the team. The Colts are amongst the best team in the AFC and to many, a lock to make the playoffs, especially considering their weaker division. If Luck can improve his stat-line and challenge for one of the top spots in the AFC, Luck is surely a favorite. The Colts as a team have the ability to get there and Luck will only improve as a quarterback. For this reason, I believe Andrew Luck should be amongst the early favorites to win the MVP award.

All in all, it’s safe to say that the stuff that Andrew Luck has done over the past two years is incredible and it’s obvious the kid is only getting better. The team as a whole is getting better and should challenge for the top spot in the AFC and are almost locks to make the playoffs. Quarterbacks get all the attention when it comes to MVP discussions and Luck should be in that conversation as one of the favorites this coming season.

 


Sean MacDonald Interview & Book Review

Posted by Andrew Aziz on August 10, 2014 at 6:50 PM Comments comments (0)

Sean MacDonald is the author of the book “The Ultimate Football Road Trip” and is a member of Club 122, reserved for those who have seen a game in all stadiums of the 4 major North American sports venues. We were lucky enough to read Sean’s book, have an interview with him and write a review.


Interview

1. What part of your experience did you enjoy the most?

The games themselves and the buzz surrounding each game beforehand at the pregame parties and tailgates. It was a rush of adrenalin every time I entered the stadium, and then seeing each game live, especially the night games when the attention of the NFL was on that stadium was hard to beat.


2. As a Colts writer, I have to ask about Lucas Oil Stadium. What were the positives of the stadium?

Pretty much everything. They treat their fans so well, the food was great, the race cars in the main entrance, the pre-game party, the skyline, the downtown location, the fans themselves. One of the top places to watch a game in the NFL. It was my second stop on the trip (after Denver) and the Colts gave me a whole bunch of stuff and a personal tour that included the Super Bowl trophy that was a highlight of the trip.

3. What were the negatives? Any bad experiences (at Lucas Oil Stadium)?

No bad experiences, but the lack of transit is about the only negative I can think of. Free parking is available on the street though, and I took advantage of that.


4. Which stadium had the best tailgating experience?

Buffalo gets started early and the fans are usually pretty happy by game time. Kansas City is a sight to behold, with a huge parking lot filled with BBQs, making the sky hazy with smoke. The Bad Boyz BBQ in Oakland was a great public tailgate that anyone can join for $25, all you can eat including shrimp, lobster, steak, and beer of course. The Black Hole is another Raiders tailgate. New England and Washington was others where the fans take their tailgating seriously. 


5. Which game was the most exciting last season and why?

I saw several overtime games including the one in Miami that ended on a safety, but the best game of them all was New England at Carolina on Monday night. That ended in controversy when a penalty flag was picked up, but until then, both teams had really controlled the ball well, moving up and down the field with precision. Beautiful to watch, and Carolina won, showing the league that they were a club to be reckoned with.


6. Which player did you want to see the most and why?

Peyton Manning, because he is the best QB out there and nearing the end of his career. I saw him open the season with those 7 TD passes and then lose the Super Bowl, never seeing him on the road during the regular season.


7. Did any stadiums feel special or different from the others?

Every stadium has a unique feeling and atmosphere, but Lambeau is definitely the most special. Every NFL fan has to see a game there at some point. The fans know the game and watch it. The Hall of Fame there is worth visiting too.


8. What are your tips on fully enjoying the fan experience at each stadium? 

Get there early, beat the rush, attend the pregame party where beer is a bit cheaper, after entering walk around the concourses and seek out different food options before deciding. Most stadiums have good options other than the typical hot dogs, nachos, and pizza and those are worth finding. Don't get drunk, don't be a jerk, stay in your seat during the action, and talk to your neighbors, fans have lots of interesting stories.


9. How important is it to view the city as well as seeing the game?

For me, very important. So much so that I returned to Indianapolis during the trip as I could not see the city when I stopped in for the game, as I had to get to Washington for the Monday nighter. Love exploring the downtown and finding a bar or two to watch some sports on TV. Also enjoy seeing the other sports in each city, saw the Pacers early in their season. Of course, visited the Brickyard as well.


10. Personally, I’ve been on 8+ hour road trips and it gets grueling; what is your advice for those who embark on these journeys, especially those who plan on copying (or semi-copying) what you plan on doing? 

I plan my longer drives so I rarely go farther than 500 miles in a day. For example, if you have 1,500 miles between cities, take 3 days instead of 2. I try to drive only during the day as well. If you can get satellite radio that helps, otherwise you can keep alert by yelling at slow drivers in the left lane. Never be the fastest car on the road, let someone else find that speed trap for you. Also, try to take side roads instead of Interstates when time is not pressing. The country is beautiful and you miss a lot of it zooming along at 80 MPH.


11. How hard was it to maintain your budget with those ridiculous concession stand prices?

Not that hard, I usually ate a few hours before the game so I wouldn't be that hungry inside the stadium, and I never bought more than one food item at each stadium. The Italian Grinder was my choice at Lucas Oil Stadium, and at $9, was not overpriced. It is more important to cut down on beer inside the stadium because it is usually watered down and insanely expensive.


12. Would you change anything or do anything differently if you had the chance to go back and do it all over? 

I would have started the planning earlier and tried to get some media coverage and sponsorship beforehand. I decided only 50 days before the season, and had to move from Singapore as well, so there wasn't much time to get the word out in advance. 

13. Would you ever consider doing this again?

Yes, if there were sponsors or I suddenly won the lottery. 


Review

“The Ultimate Football Road Trip” recounts author Sean MacDonald’s journey of visiting every NFL stadium for a team’s home game in 2013. The guidebook offers sports fans recommendations on the top local attractions, sports bars, travel routes, hotels to stay at and how to score tickets in each market.

The first thing that jumps out when you read this book is the author’s passion for sports. It seems like he never got tired of traveling to these places week after week. Many people would have quit halfway through, but MacDonald kept on going.

The book is easy to read and there is a simple continuity of the book. Although most people won’t recopy this trip, it has insight on each individual city, for those fans that will travel for road games. He tells you where to go and what to do in each city. It’s more informative for sports fans, but it could even have some insight for the regular person.

At the end of the book, MacDonald gives driving tips and things to do when in the city. He also outlines his mistakes. His story and his journey indicate how important organization (financial and time) is and how much fun one can have on the road.

All in all, it was an enjoyable read. It’s a straightforward book and it’s worth a read for sports fans and especially for those sports fans that expect to go to road games this year.

 

You can buy the e-book here: http://www.amazon.com/Ultimate-Football-Road-Trip-MacDonald-ebook/dp/B00LT0E4C0

What's Jerrell Freeman's Next Contract Going to Look Like?

Posted by Andrew Aziz on August 10, 2014 at 2:10 AM Comments comments (0)

Jerrell Freeman has been a consistent performer for the Indianapolis Colts over the past couple of seasons and led the team in tackles. He’s a free agent after this season; how much can he expect to make?

 

Jerrell Freeman was the leading tackler for the Colts over the past two seasons. He plays one of the most crucial roles in a 3-4 defense as an inside linebacker. Over the past two seasons, Freeman has amassed over 270 tackles in the past two seasons, which is amongst the most in the league. He also has 7.5 sacks, 3 interceptions and 7 forced fumbles. These are also impressive numbers considering his role and his position. Freeman is a quick player who is all over the field and is a sideline-to-sideline type of player. As it stands, he currently makes an average of $486,667 a year (3 year contract).

There are several players that resemble Freeman in terms of play and numbers on paper. His new teammate D’Qwell Jackson is a good comparison. Jackson, like Freeman, is a tackling machine who put up big numbers in Cleveland over the past 2 seasons. Jackson made 259 tackles, 5 sacks and had 3 interceptions in the past 2 seasons, which are very close to Freeman’s numbers. David Harris is another player with similar stats. Harris is the leader of the Jets’ defense and has been a consistent star for them for years. Over the past two seasons, he has 247 tackles with 5 sacks and no interceptions. His stats are a bit different from Freeman but his role is very similar to his and is a sideline-to-sideline type of player. Timmons is also another player with a similar role and lots of stats. He has 232 tackles with 9 sacks and 5 interceptions over the past 2 seasons. Timmons’ role is a bit larger than that of Freeman and is the rock on his defense. Timmons will also play more in coverage (on average), and is used all over the field. However, his stats are similar and the comparison isn’t crazy. Demeco Ryans is the best comparison. Ryans is a quick player and is almost the exact same size. Ryans’ role in the Eagles’ defense is the same as Freeman in the Colts’ defense. Also, his statistics are very similar. He has 240 tackles, 5 sacks and 3 interceptions. The statistics are eerily similar. He destroys all 4 in forced fumble totals, but everything else they are relatively even.

What do those players make? Lawrence Timmons and David Harris make the most of the four, with an average salary of 9.5M and 9M per year, respectively. Both have been consistent for years and have been stars in the league for a long time. Demeco Ryans, who as stated earlier was the best comparison, makes 7.8M a year. The Colts signed D’Qwell Jackson to a 5.5M a year deal this offseason. The average of the four gives him an average of 7.95M (a year). All players signed a contract between 4 and 6 years. Considering that most inside linebackers contracts in recent years have been 5 years or fewer, with even 5 years being a relatively number, it’s safe to say that Freeman will expect to receive a deal that’s at least 4 years in length.

Because he’s closer in terms of his role and his numbers to Ryans and Jackson, those players will be given more weight.

With Freeman needing a contract this summer, how much can he expect to make and should the Colts fork it up? Considering the weighting, the contract length and how much the average deals have been recently, Freeman can expect a contract that is 4 years in length, with an approximate average salary of about 7.1M a year. If it’s a 4 year contract, that’s a 28.4M dollar deal. This would make him the 10th highest paid inside linebacker in terms of average salary per year. Freeman will be one of the highest paid players on the Colts’ defense and deservedly so. The Colts will have to cough up the money. Freeman is an emerging star in the NFL. Few match his numbers and he’s still getting better. He’s 28 years old and will be 29 next offseason. He still has plenty productive years in front of him. If the Colts expect to have consistency on defense, they’ll need guys like Freeman there. Locking up Jerrell Freeman long term will be one of the main goals of the offseason.

 

Colts-Jets Game Recap

Posted by Andrew Aziz on August 8, 2014 at 2:25 AM Comments comments (0)

 

The Indianapolis Colts opened their 2014 season with their first preseason game against the New York Jets. The Colts lost 13-10 but there were many things, positive and negative, the coaches can take away from this game.

 


The regular starters (if they even suited) only got out there for one drive before calling it a game. This game was clearly for the backups and to separate the good from the weak in terms of those bubble players. The backups got most of the 1st and all of the 2nd quarter. The 3rd stringers got the 2nd half and the lesser-known players were given a chance to show off their skills. Khaled Holmes was injured early on, as was Ulrick John, Jeris Pendleton and Daniel Adongo left in a sling. Holmes is clearly the most important of the three as he’s the starting center. It doesn’t look too serious, but it doesn’t look like nothing. He’ll have an MRI tomorrow. Other than that, it was a lackluster game with a last minute field goal. Usually, a last minute field goal means the game was exciting, but it wasn’t.

There were a lot of positives for the Colts. The first team offense and defense looked sharp. The first string offensive linemen were impressive and Jack Mewhort had a nice debut. They just looked comfortable and they looked like one collective unit instead of a bunch of different players. It was a good thing to see.

In terms of individual performances, Dan Herron was impressive and saw a good amount of action. He seems to have the advantage in terms of getting that #3 running back spot.

Bjoern Werner and Jonathan Newsome both performed well and it was good to see that because both are question marks at the outside linebacker position. Let’s hope pray that these guys can perform like this during the season and especially the first four games. Andy Studebaker also impressed as an outside linebacker and takes a step closer to getting a roster spot.

Henoc Muamba was extremely impressive with double digit tackles and a forced fumble. He was all over the field and was making plays left and right. He looks like another CFL gem that Grigson dug up.

The 3rd string offense was terrible, the offensive line especially. That group was mauled all night and they did not give Chandler Harnish any chances to succeed. It’s not a major concern, but you’d like to see your depth players outplay their depth players.

The depth at center is thin behind Holmes. If he’s out, they’re in major trouble. Jonotthan Harrison did not perform well tonight and had some gaffes, starting with a snap over Luck’s head on his first drive.

Adam Vinatieri made some nice kicks tonight, but missing a 29 yard field goal, especially after a good drive just cannot happen. No starting NFL kicker should miss those kicks, and although it’s not concerning, it better not become a pattern, even if it’s the preseason. It means nothing now and it will blow over, but let’s hope it doesn’t happen again.

 



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