---- — The Colts defea-ted the Browns 27-6 Satur-day night for their third and final home preseason game. The Colts scored in every quarter and at the same time kept Cleveland out of the end zone the entire game.
Like usual for NFL teams in the third preseason game, most of the Colts’ starters played into the third quarter and the coaches use the game as a measuring stick.
The Colts are no different as coach Chuck Pagano stated he wanted to be aggressive this game. In Pagano’s opening statement after the game he smiled and stated, “Obviously pleased with the outcome. Pleased with the way this team prepared and the way they played this evening. We came out and we said again we wanted to start fast and we did that on both sides of the ball and special teams.”
I would state mission accomplished.
Not only was special teams a big reason for keeping the Browns out of the end zone but again so was the defense. Punter Pat McAfee had 3 of his 5 punts stay within the 20. Also the Colts’ newest addition, punt returner David Reed acquired from Baltimore, debuted with a 29 yard return. This was something the Colts have been weak in for a couple years and is nice to see.
Andrew Luck had a great game but more than likely saw his last game until Colts’ home opener Aug. 8 against the Raiders. Luck finished the game completing 16 of his 25 attempts for 164 yards with two touchdowns and an interception. When asked about his performance, Luck stated, “I think we’ve gotten better. I think we’re starting to find offensively a rhythm and that’s always good. There’s still a long road ahead, lots of room for improvement, but I think personally and as an offense we’re taking the right steps.”
The big thing that stands out again is the Colts improving defense, in particular rookie linebacker Caesar Rayford. His size for one thing is massive for a linebacker at 6-7, 265 pounds. In the locker room he confessed he now weighs 275 and is getting bigger.
“I’m just going to go out there and work. Like I said, I’m going to play every play like it’s my last,” Rayford stated after the game.
I’m sure Rayford doesn’t have to worry about the cut the NFL has to make by Tuesday, down to 75 players from 90, as he leads the NFL preseason with five sacks.
The only downside was that offensive lineman Anthony Castonzo left the game with an MCL sprain. Not only is Castonzo a starting lineman but he’s also his blindside at left tackle, one you want to be secure. Castonzo’s backup, Joe Reitz, should be up to the task as its only temporary. Reitz stated after practice Monday, “We preach ‘next man up’ around here. It’s a philosophy the whole team’s had. You always hate to see anybody get injured, especially AC (Anthony Castonzo), he’s such a great guy. Happy to hear it’s not too serious.”
The Colts’ next and last preseason game is Thursday at Cincinnati with a 7 p.m. kickoff.
Ed Nason is a Colts columnist for the Pharos-Tribune. He can be reached through the sports department at 574-732-5180 or firstname.lastname@example.org.