The Indianapolis Colts (0-3) return to preseason action on Thursday night against the Cincinnati Bengals (2-1) for the last preseason game of the season. The Colts will look to get their first win in the preseason after being just one of three teams who have yet to notch a preseason win so far.
After the game, teams must cut down to 53-players on Saturday. Players will have their last chance to prove themselves before final cuts.
Thursday August 28, 7:00 p.m. EST
Paul Brown Stadium, Cincinnati, OH
Here’s some things to be watching for on Thursday:
Loucheiz Purifoy: The battle for the fifth cornerback spot is Purifoy’s to lose at this point in the preseason. However, fellow defensive backs Marcus Burley and Sheldon Price are in no way going to let him go without a fight. Purifoy has shown some great skills in coverage and on special teams so far for the Colts and will be one tough player to knock off.
Jack Doyle/Weslye Saunders: Both Doyle and Weslye Saunders have enjoyed decent preseasons, but the Colts may lean towards Doyle on this one. He is a better blocker off the line than Saunders and has the possession skills of Coby Fleener. However, Saunders has been a reliable target for Chandler Harnish this preseason, making it a tough battle to discern. One of those tight ends will not be on the team by Sunday.
Chandler Harnish: Harnish’s roster position really isn’t in jeopardy; he’ll likely be cut and immediately signed to the practice squad again. However, this is his final year of practice squad eligibility and the Colts need to evaluate whether Harnish has value as a long-term quarterback once Matt Hasselbeck is gone (which he probably will be after this season). Harnish’s preseason has been very up-and-down, which questions his consistency as a full-time backup. The Cincinnati pass defense is nothing to scoff at, all the way to the third unit; Harnish will be aptly tested.
Kelvin Sheppard: Sheppard did himself no favors after putting in a dud of a performance against the Saints. He’s been relied upon for backup duties in the past, but I would be shocked if he makes the team. He’s had a dreadful preseason, but has one more chance to turn it around. Henoc Muamba, Andrew Jackson and Andy Studebaker are all breathing down his neck for the spot in Sheppard’s last opportunity to prove his worth.
Zach Kerr: Who doesn’t love watching the big man play football? The starters probably won’t be in this one, so Josh Chapman will probably take a seat in order to let Kerr do his thing. The man has been plugging up lines and commanding double-teams all preseason, but the Bengals may be a different story. A depth-filled defensive line will test Kerr and prove whether he really is an asset or just a fun guy on the line. He’ll make the team either way (likely as Chapman’s primary backup) but will have people watching him as well.