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Position Groups to Watch in Colts vs. Bills Preseason Matchup

While the end score holds little importance in this matchup, the Colts will take this opportunity to help decide position battles and find players that stand out.

After three weeks of training camp in the hot sun in Westfield, the Indianapolis Colts will finally begin their preseason slate of games.

The Colts will travel to Highmark Stadium to take on the Buffalo Bills on Saturday afternoon. Head coach Frank Reich said this week that he expects most of the starters to play around a quarter of football before being relieved by the backups.

We all know that the final score of these preseason matchups does not mean anything in the grand scheme of the 2022 season. However, these games still hold importance, allowing younger players to gain some experience, especially rookies playing their first NFL game. Preseason games also give a glimpse at who might make the final 53-man roster.

So, here are the position groups to keep a close eye on in Buffalo.

Indianapolis Colts wide receiver Alec Pierce (14) spins out of a receiving drill during training camp Thursday, July 28, 2022, at Grand Park Sports Campus in Westfield, Ind. Indianapolis Colts Training Camp Nfl Thursday July 28 2022 At Grand Park Sports Campus In Westfield Ind

Wide Receiver

One of the biggest topics all offseason for the Colts has been their young wide receiver core. Outside of Michael Pittman Jr., no other receiver on this team has a proven track record in the NFL. It will be a plus for all these guys to get some run against another opponent.

Expect Parris Campbell and Alec Pierce to get plenty of action on Saturday. They have been WR2 and WR3, respectively, throughout camp, and the Colts have high hopes for both players heading into the season. Campbell and Pierce have had their fair share of highlights in training camp, but it will be nice to get some live-game action for the two of them.

Another battle to watch is the wide receivers on the fringe of making the roster. Pittman, Campbell, Pierce, and Ashton Dulin are locks to make the roster. After that, nothing is set in stone.

Keke Coutee and Dezmon Patmon are the leaders in the clubhouse to secure the final two spots at wide receiver. However, guys like Ethan Fernea, Isaiah Ford, and Michael Young Jr. have made some plays in camp and will try to make a name for themselves.

Tight End

Behind Mo Alie-Cox, the rest of the spots at the tight end position are all up for grabs. The group is filled with rookies and second-year players trying to establish a role in this offense.

Kylen Granson currently sits at TE2. Granson started slowly in camp but has picked it up over the last couple of weeks, making plays and working well with quarterback Matt Ryan. Drops still seem to plague him at times, and he must clean that up if he wants to be a reliable option.

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While Granson is TE2 for now, that could change by the time we hit the regular season. Drew Ogletree has been a revelation throughout training camp, making plays seemingly every day. The sixth-round pick has been one of the stars of camp and has earned playing time with the starters in 7-on-7 and 11-on-11 periods. The next step is to bring that same kind of production to the field in an actual game.

The other tight end to watch is Jelani Woods. Woods, a third-round pick from this spring’s draft, is a physical freak with the size and speed to be a mismatch all over the field. However, he has struggled a little in camp with drops and has not produced at the level of Ogletree. He will need stellar performances from here on out if he wants to establish a role early in the Colts’ offense.

Defensive Line

The Colts added quite a few new pieces to their defensive line this offseason. We know the type of players we are getting in DeForest Buckner, Yannick Ngakoue, and Kwity Paye. But there are some younger players eager to make an impression.

A couple of non-rookies with plenty to prove are Dayo Odeyingbo and Ben Banogu. Odeyingbo is fully healthy from his Achilles tear in 2021, and the Colts envision playing him all along the defensive line. He has had a quiet camp up until this point, so it will be interesting to see if he can shine Saturday. Banogu has made some plays in camp, but the pressure is on for the fourth-year pro who is facing his last chance to have an impact on this team.

The rookies to keep an eye on along the defensive line are Eric Johnson II and Curtis Brooks. Johnson was the Colts’ fifth-round pick this spring and has established himself as the backup nose tackle, displaying explosiveness off the line of scrimmage. Brooks has shown solid pass rushing ability and even recorded a few would-be sacks in camp. Both can provide a punch along the interior of the line.

Cornerback

There is still much to be decided with the cornerback group as the competition for the starting outside corner spot opposite Stephon Gilmore remains a battle. Brandon Facyson has run almost exclusively with the starting defense, showing good coverage ability and great run support. However, Isaiah Rodgers cannot be counted out just yet, making plays on the ball in practice and executing acrobatic interceptions. Live-game situations will give each a chance to stand out.

Similar to wide receiver, there are plenty of spots up for grabs at the bottom of the cornerback depth chart. Gilmore, Kenny Moore II, Facyson, and Rodgers are locks to make the team. But the Colts are still looking for a fifth and possibly sixth cornerback to make the final cut.

Marvell Tell III has the early edge for CB5 at this time. Tell is a tall, long cornerback who has plenty of experience with the team and can contribute on special teams. Tony Brown has experience playing the nickel role and has also been running with the special teams unit. With Anthony Chesley dealing with an injury, Tell and Brown have a great opportunity to separate themselves.

What position groups will you be paying attention to on Saturday? Let us know in the comments below!


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