INDIANAPOLIS — Final evaluations. That’s how Indianapolis Colts coach Chuck Pagano views tonight’s preseason finale with the Cincinnati Bengals.
Veteran wide receiver Reggie Wayne, meanwhile, makes a more cultural comparison. “It’s like getting voted off the island,” Wayne joked recently.
Whatever the case, more is on the line tonight at Cincinnati’s Paul Brown Stadium than just a simple win or a loss. Jobs are what’s important as NFL teams must trim their rosters from 75 to a regular-season maximum of 53 by 6 p.m. on Saturday.
“We’ve got a bunch of guys that we talked about that still need to be evaluated, guys still trying to make a 53-man roster on both sides,” Pagano said this week as he previewed the Cincinnati matchup.
As to who will play tonight, the Colts figure to use their primary backups and rookies most of the game. Some regular starters may get a series in order to get some tune-up work in. Older veterans — such as defensive end Cory Redding, outside linebacker Robert Mathis and Wayne — will most likely be spectators and cheerleaders.
“You know, for starters, we might not play as much. But I was a young guy at one point in time and this is a very important game for some of those guys,” free safety Antoine Bethea admitted.
“They’re going to get a lot of reps on defense, offense, special teams. They’re going to be tired, but you know, you’re fighting for a job. Maybe not here, but somewhere else. Scouts going to be looking at the film, so it’s very important for these guys.”
Safety Delano Howell understands. The third-year defensive back has gotten more playing time than usual for a backup this preseason due to injuries at the position.