Prior to the schedule change, the NFL preseason was much more predictable. The third game was usually treated as the “dress rehearsal” game for starters, with nearly every team holding out starters for that fourth exhibition game.
Now, with only three preseason games, schedules have changed. Teams are exercising a ton of caution with their starters, and joint-practices have become a more viable option for getting players reps in a more controlled environment. Rather than rely on an officiating crew that is in preseason mode themselves, coaches can control the whistle during practices, limiting some of the punishment that is dealt during a typical game.
Furthermore, coaches can dictate things like down and distance, allowing their teams to practice situational football. Entire periods of practice are devoted to specific aspects of the game such as red zone defense, hurry-up offense, 7-on-7 drills, and so on.
“There’ll be a number of these guys that will not play in this game,” coach Dan Campbell said during his Thursday media availability. “A number of our starters, because they’re getting kind of the bulk of the reps—but there’ll a number of guys that have gotten the load here that will still play in this game.”
While vague, I think there are certainly players that are more than likely not playing at all against the Colts. Established veterans like center Frank Ragnow, left tackle Taylor Decker, and defensive tackle Michael Brockers, to name a few.
The good news? Plenty of opportunities for younger players, fighting for playing time or to make the final 53 once the end of August gets here.
Today’s Question of the Day is:
Which Lions player will you be watching against the Colts?
My answer: As a trench warfare enthusiast, I have to go with defensive end Austin Bryant. By all accounts, Bryant has had a really strong training camp and continued his strong play in Indianapolis—he had three sacks during Thursday’s joint practice alone.
I expect him to have his way with the Colts’ reserve offensive tackles, as he closes in on not only locking up a roster spot, but a spot in the edge rusher rotation as well.
What about you? Who are you going to be keeping an eye on against the Colts? Let us know in the comments.