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  1. #1
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    Can Scott Tolzien run the Colts offense

    Can Scott Tolzien run the Colts offense in Andrew Luck's absence?


    - You'll have a better idea of where the Indianapolis Colts are after Sunday's preseason opener against the Detroit Lions.

    Well sort of.


    The Colts are beat up on both sides of the ball and are expected to be without some key players against the Lions.

    Center Ryan Kelly (foot), guard Joe Haeg (burner), safety Clayton Geathers (neck), linebacker Jon Bostic (finger), linebacker Antonio Morrison (groin), receiver Phillip Dorsett (hamstring) and of course quarterback Andrew Luck (shoulder) are likely out. There could be other injured players that could be ruled out along with some veterans who don't routinely get a lot of snaps in the preseason.

    But there are other story lines to keep an eye on against Detroit.

    The Scott Tolzien factor. The veteran will start at quarterback in place of the injured Luck. This game will be a better indicator of how well Tolzien can run the offense if Luck isn't ready for Week 1 at the Los Angeles Rams. The results so far through the first two weeks of training camp have been very mixed, and mixed is not a good thing when you factor in the importance of the quarterback position for the Colts because of the talented skill players they have. "There has been some good and some bad and you're always looking to improve," Tolzien said in describing his training camp so far.

    A peek at the defense. The defense that takes the field against the Lions likely won't be the same defense that takes the field against the Rams. That's because they'll be without Bostic and Morrison and rookie Malik Hooker should be starting with veteran Darius Butler at safety by then. But that doesn't mean the defense gets a pass. General manager Chris Ballard used the offseason to try re-shape the defense. He talked about depth and competition on the roster, so here's an opportunity for other players to make an impression. Rookie Anthony Walker and Edwin Jackson are two candidates to start at inside linebacker in place of Bostic and Morrison. "I think we're all excited to see that entire unit together on defense," coach Chuck Pagano said. "It's starting to come together, to gel. Once those guys are on the same page, flying around, with the defensive line, I can't wait."

    First glimpse at the rookies. Hooker, the team's first-round pick and second-round pick Quincy Wilson are projected starters, but both players will likely play with the second unit against the Lions. Running back Marlon Mack, who was selected in the fourth round, isn't expected to play after missing practice most of last week with shoulder injury. Linebacker Tarell Basham, despite the team's need for help in the pass-rush department, has gotten off to a slow start. Here's his chance to make up for his sluggish start.

  2. #2
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    A glimpse of a new defense

    Coach Chuck Pagano acknowledged we won’t see this new defense in its entirety on Sunday. Both starting inside linebackers, Antonio Morrison (groin) and Jon Bostic (finger), are sidelined with injuries.

    But there will be a horde of new faces, starting with the outside ‘backers, Jabaal Sheard and John Simon, who’ve been routinely in the backfield during camp. They’ll actually be allowed to tackle someone to the turf come Sunday. There’s also the new-look defensive line, vastly improved, featuring free-agent signings Johnathan Hankins and Al Woods. Henry Anderson, back this season after a lost 2016 campaign, has impressed throughout camp and is finally back to 100 percent.

    “I think we’re all excited to see that entire unit together on defense,” Pagano said. “It’s starting to come together, to gel. Once those guys are on the same page, flying around, with the defensive line, I can’t wait.”

    The most intriguing position battles on defense will take place in the secondary, where two rookies — Malik Hooker and Quincy Wilson — figure to earn some first-team snaps this preseason. Darius Butler also will experience his first full-time run at safety after playing nickel corner for the Colts the past five seasons. It’s also a critical preseason for second-year safety T.J. Green, who’s had an up-and-down training camp.

  3. #3
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    Don't expect Detroit Lions starters to play much in today's preseason opener



    If last year is any indication, the Detroit Lions still will have most of their starters work up a quick sweat in Sunday's preseason opener against the Indianapolis Colts.

    The Lions and Colts held their second and final joint practice on Friday, but Lions coach Jim Caldwell said his starters still "need a little work."

    "Not certain (how much they'll play Sunday)," Caldwell said. "And every case is going to be a little bit different. Some you may see in there, some you may not."



    Last year, after taking part in joint practices with the Pittsburgh Steelers, the Lions played many of their starters for one series in their preseason game at Heinz Field.

    Matthew Stafford started at quarterback and drove the Lions deep into Steelers territory before losing a fumble on his final play.





    He completed 4 of 6 passes for 58 yards before giving way to Dan Orlovsky.

    The Lions did hold several healthy starters out of their preseason opener last year, including Ameer Abdullah, Haloti Ngata and Ziggy Ansah, and surely will do the same Sunday.


    Eric Ebron returned to practice Friday, but only for position drills and is not expected to play against the Colts. Theo Riddick has been practicing with a red no-contact jersey all of camp. And the Lions occasionally give the 33-year-old Ngata scheduled rest days.

    Abdullah said last week that he expects to play on Sunday, and starting cornerback Nevin Lawson said Friday that he hopes to be on the field as well.

    The Colts won't have quarterback Andrew Luck, who's on the physically unable to perform list while he recovers from off-season shoulder surgery, or starting center Ryan Kelly, who left Thursday's practice with an injury.

    "End of the day, I believe in working," Lawson said. "Any type of work I can get, I'll be happy with it. I'm not a guy that just wants to shy away and say, nah, it's first preseason (game). If I got to work, I'll be glad to do it. I feel like that's the only way I can get better as a player."

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