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Key Areas to Watch in Colts vs. Vikings Preseason Matchup

The quarterback competition continues and questions at left tackle remain as the Colts head up to Minnesota for their second preseason game. (Video via Indianapolis Colts YouTube)

After another week of training camp practices, the Indianapolis Colts travel up to Minneapolis to take on the Minnesota Vikings on Saturday night in their second preseason game of 2021.

With hardly any starters playing in the first preseason game against the Carolina Panthers, head coach Frank Reich said that most of the starters will get some playing time this week. This will give us a look at many of the guys we’ll be watching on Sundays when the regular season rolls around.

There are still quite a few questions surrounding important positions on this team, so let’s take a look at the areas to watch when the Colts take the field at US Bank Stadium.

Quarterback Battle Continues

Both Jacob Eason and Sam Ehlinger will look to build on their solid performances against the Panthers. The roles will be flipped this week as Ehlinger will start and play the first half with Eason taking over after halftime.

Eason enters this week’s game after having his best week of practice thus far. His confidence has noticeably grown throughout the week and he has been making reads at a much quicker pace, delivering the ball accurately and on time. One aspect of Eason’s game he will need to continue improving on is his pocket presence, as he sometimes struggled knowing when to get rid of the ball and when defenders were closing in against the Panthers.

Indianapolis Colts quarterback Jacob Eason (9) practices throwing Tuesday, Aug. 17, 2021, during training camp at Grand Park in Westfield, Ind. Indianapolis Colts Training Camp At Grand Park In Westfield Indiana Tuesday Aug 17 2021

Ehlinger did not have as great a week of practice as Eason and had to miss Tuesday’s action with an illness. However, Ehlinger will get his first start and has the benefit of working with the starters in live-game action. Ehlinger needs to show that he can push the ball downfield and not limit the offense with his lack of arm strength, as the Colts want to incorporate more explosive plays into their offense.

Carousel at Left Tackle

Concern is setting in on whether or not the Colts will be able to have a suitable substitute at left tackle until Eric Fisher can return from injury. After their performances last week, the Colts’ offensive tackles of Will Holden, Sam Tevi, and Julién Davenport certainly need to step it up and play at a higher level.

While Holden is still currently listed as the starter on the Colts’ depth chart, Davenport has been the one receiving most of the starting reps at left tackle this week in practice. Both gave up numerous pressures against the Panthers, with Holden giving up a sack that led to a fumble deep in Colts territory. Tevi played most of the game at right tackle but gave up his fair share of pressures as well.

Aug 15, 2021; Indianapolis, Indiana, USA; Indianapolis Colts running back Benny LeMay (42) celebrates his touchdown with offensive tackle Sam Tevi (71) spiking the ball in the second half against the Carolina Panthers at Lucas Oil Stadium.

All three of these players will be given ample opportunities on Saturday night to redeem themselves and their performances from the week before. With 80 combined starts between the three, there is starting experience aplenty. The question is can any of them prove to be a reliable starter until the Colts’ offensive line can return to full strength?

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Kwity Paye’s Debut

Due to an ankle sprain he suffered last week in practice, Kwity Paye did not play against the Panthers. But after coming back this week, we will see Paye in live-game action for the first time against the Vikings.

The injury has not been a setback for Paye at all. Our Jake Arthur has reported just how dominant Paye has been this week in camp and he will now look to show that in-game as well.

Indianapolis Colts defensive end Kwity Paye (51) tosses a souvenir ball to a fan at Grand Park in Westfield on Monday, August 2, 2021, on the second week of workouts of this summer's Colts training camp. Head Coach Frank Reich reappeared at practice after being away for ten days after a COVID-19 positive test. Colts Get Their Coach Back On Week Two Of Colts Camp

Paye has been the starter at right defensive end throughout training camp and will get his action with the starters in Minnesota. It will be interesting to see how Paye can translate the success he’s had on the practice field to the game as the Colts continue to work on transitioning him to a speed rusher who can also use his immense power to his advantage.

Rock’s Time to Shine

The competition for the other outside cornerback spot opposite of Xavier Rhodes is still up for grabs. Rock Ya-Sin and T.J. Carrie have been primarily splitting the first-team reps at that spot throughout camp.

Carrie is still nursing a knee injury he suffered against the Panthers and will likely not play on Saturday. This gives Ya-Sin a golden opportunity to separate himself as the starter and prove that he should keep his spot.

Aug 15, 2021; Indianapolis, Indiana, USA; Carolina Panthers wide receiver David Moore (83) dives to catch the ball while Indianapolis Colts cornerback Rock Ya-Sin (26) defends the first quarter at Lucas Oil Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Trevor Ruszkowski-USA TODAY Sports

The biggest problem for Ya-Sin over the past two years has been penalties and inconsistency. There are times where Ya-Sin plays very well, sticking to his man and playing with physical instincts that display his potential as a long-term starter. However, there are times where he can get behind his receiver and panic, leading to more use of his hands on receivers and incurring penalties.

Ya-Sin has had an up-and-down training camp so far. With Carrie out, Ya-Sin needs to have a big game and play to the level we know he is capable to solidify his position in the CB3 battle.

Have thoughts on what to watch for in the Colts vs. Vikings preseason matchup Saturday? Drop a line in the comments section below letting us know how you feel!

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