INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. – What caught our eye from the Indianapolis Colts’ 13-6 win over the Bengals Thursday night at Cincinnati’s Paul Brown Stadium. The Colts finished the preseason 1-3 and open the regular season Sept. 8 against the Chargers in Los Angeles.
That’s a wrap: It’s over. Four preseason games provided Chris Ballard and his personnel staff tons of video to pore over the next two days. By 4 p.m. Saturday, they must slash the roster to 53. Did anyone do anything at Cincinnati to make a difference? We’ll see.
But one thing to keep in mind: a handful of the three dozen players who’ll be jettisoned could land elsewhere. Krishawn Hogan comes to mind. Great, great preseason by the Warren Central H.S. and Marian University product. He probably ran into a numbers game in the wideout room.
Another thing to keep in mind: the cut to 53 doesn’t mean an end of anxieties to a few players. Ballard won’t hesitate to see what he can get from the waiver wire. He’ll probably be looking for help on the offensive line, at running back and quarterback.
Nice debut, Parris: The objective was to let Parris Campbell get his feet wet after practicing only five times since the start of training camp because of a hamstring injury. Mission accomplished.
The second-round draft pick played the entire first half, worked primarily out of his comfy slot position and reinforced why the coaching staff has been so high on him. Campbell had three catches and 42 yards on four targets. His 31-yarder in the second quarter was a snapshot of his big-play skills. Lined up in the left slot, he beat cornerback Tony McRae off the line, ran a quick slant and caught Chad Kelly’s pass in stride. Campbell showed his elusiveness to avoid one Bengal defender, then his acceleration to run away from another.
Again, he’s practiced five times.
“It was huge,’’ Campbell said of his work against the Bengals. “I definitely needed those reps being out the three weeks with the hamstring. I felt great. I felt like myself again out on the field. It was a lot of fun today.’’
Nice finale, Chad: Chad Kelly’s work is finished until Sept. 16. He’ll miss the first two games of the season for violating the NFL’s personal conduct policy. He was signed during the offseason as the fourth QB, but might have done enough in the preseason to be QB2 when his suspension ends in the aftermath of Andrew Luck’s retirement.
One comment from Frank Reich resonates: “Chad has the knack for making plays.’’
Yes, he does.
In the first half, Kelly completed 13-of-16 passes for 138 yards and rushed three times for 20 yards and a 7-yard touchdown. His one miscue was costly. Kelly sent Campbell deep down the right sideline in the first quarter, but badly underthrew him. Corner Darius Phillips came up with the interception.
Kelly’s TD exemplified his play-making potential. On third-and-1 at the Cincy 7, Kelly faked a handoff to Charcandrick West, faked a pass to Ross Travis and ran through a huge hole on the left side.
Kelly’s preseason stat line: 54-of-73 (73.9 percent), 445 yards, two touchdowns, two interceptions, a 94.7 rating. He also rushed 10 times for 107 yards and two TDs.
Walker’s final shot: After Kelly ran things in the first half, Phillip Walker took over. No one’s roster spot may be more tenuous than Walker’s. Even though Kelly is not a backup option for the first two games, Ballard might opt to sign a veteran or go after a waived QB. The Colts reportedly worked out Brock Osweiler, Brandon Weeden and Matt Cassel this week.
Walker’s final preseason stat line: 32-of-64, 349 yards, no TDs, two interceptions, a 53.5 rating.
Some good: Not that there was any question, but rookie linebacker E.J. Speed cemented his spot on the 53. In the game’s first 11 minutes, the Bengals ran 24 offensive plays. Speed was credited with eight tackles, including seven solos.
Is there room for Carroll Phillips on the defensive line? Probably not. But give him credit for making the decision difficult. The third-year end added 2 more sacks to his preseason chart, upping his total to 4. The two at Cincinnati showcased Phillips’ strengths: speed off the line, staying low and whipping left tackle John Jerry.
Did we mention Krishawn Hogan? Of course we did. But the kid has earned every positive comment we’ve tossed his way. He had four catches for 46 yards in the first half and has the distinction of leading the Colts in receiving during the preseason: 12 catches, 132 yards.
Here’s hoping Hogan finds a spot somewhere.
Some bad: Tough night for Penny Hart. The undrafted rookie wideout handled punt return duties against the Bengals. Sorta. He lost a fumble in the first quarter, then another in the third quarter. The latter was a case of showing poor judgment. Hart declined to signal a fair catch despite having Davontae Harris bearing down on him.
The Colts avoided damage each time. Zaire Franklin, Chris Milton and Rolan Milligan combined to stuff Rodney Anderson for a 2-yard loss on fourth-and-2 on the first miscue. On the second, Bengals kicker Tristan Vizcaino missed a 37-yard field goal attempt.
Good and bad: Hello, Marvel Tell III. The fifth-round draft pick experienced both ends of the spectrum.
One of his lesser moments resulted in getting beat for a 39-yard completion by Cody Core. But he atoned with a pair of nice break-ups, including a pass to Josh Malone in the left corner of the end zone. The Bengals had to settle for Vizcaino’s 21-yard field goal.
Medical update: It was announced in the fourth quarter wideout Marcus Johnson suffered a concussion and cornerback Shakial Taylor was being evaluated for a concussion.
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