NFL Preseason Preview - Indianapolis (1-0) at Pittsburgh (0-1)
By Scott Garbarini, NFL Editor
(Sports Network) - After making an outstanding opening impression, Andrew Luck
gets to showcase his considerable talents on a national stage when the new
Indianapolis Colts quarterback leads his team into Heinz Field for an
intriguing Sunday night preseason showdown with the Pittsburgh Steelers.
Any bitterness Colts fans were still harboring over the organization's
unpopular decision to release the at-risk Peyton Manning in March probably
subsided after witnessing Luck's pro debut. The No. 1 overall pick in this
past draft lived up to his advance billing and more, orchestrating three
touchdown drives on his first four possessions in contributing to last
weekend's 38-3 shellacking of the St. Louis Rams at Lucas Oil Stadium.
Luck made an impact right off the bat, finding Donald Brown for a short pass
that the running back turned into a 63-yard touchdown on the Colts' initial
play from scrimmage. The former Stanford star connected with Austin Collie for
a 23-yard score later on and finished his first game with 188 yards on a crisp
"To see him perform and do the things he did under pressure...he handled it
well," Colts first-year head coach Chuck Pagano said of Luck.
A new-look Indianapolis defense that's transitioning to a 3-4 scheme also
shined in Pagano's initiation, limiting the punchless Rams to 215 total yards
while not yielding a touchdown. Jerry Hughes, a 2010 first-round pick who's
shifting to outside linebacker, led the effort with a pair of sacks.
The Colts did have a few down moments, however. Starting inside linebacker Pat
Angerer fractured his foot in the contest and will miss the beginning of the
regular season as a result, while right guard Mike McGlynn sustained a high
ankle sprain and running backs Delone Carter and Mewelde Moore exited with rib
Moore spent the last four seasons with Pittsburgh before joining the Colts as
a free agent. He and Carter are competing with rookie Vick Ballard to be the
primary backup to Brown.
Angerer's injury creates a battle between ex-Eagles Moise Fokou and Greg
Lloyd, former CFL player Jerrell Freeman and Mario Harvey for the starting nod
opposite Kavell Conner.
The Steelers enter their 2012 home preseason opener somewhat banged up as
well. Perennial Pro Bowl linebacker James Harrison will be sidelined at least
the next three weeks after undergoing a scope on his left knee on Wednesday,
longtime nose tackle Casey Hampton remains on the physically unable to perform
list while recovering from offseason knee surgery and starting fullback David
Johnson was recently placed on injured reserve after tearing his ACL in last
week's 24-23 loss at Philadelphia.
And Pittsburgh remains without Mike Wallace as the fleet-footed wide receiver
continues a camp holdout over dissatisfaction with his contract.
The Steelers have some health issues at running back as well, with 2011
leading rusher Rashard Mendenhall still on the mend from a torn ACL and
projected replacement Isaac Redman doubtful for Sunday's contest with a
strained groin. Jonathan Dwyer, who ripped off 40 yards on only two carries
against the Eagles, is dealing with a minor shoulder sprain but is expected to
Pittsburgh will also be undergoing some shuffling along the offensive line for
this game, with normal right tackle Marcus Gilbert moving to the left side and
Ramon Foster sliding into Gilbert's usual spot. Veteran left tackle Max Starks
(knee) isn't yet ready to play after just being activated off the PUP list,
while rookie second-round pick Mike Adams struggled in his place during the
Quarterback Ben Roethlisberger was sharp in a brief appearance in the
Philadelphia game, however, completing 7-of-8 attempts for 49 yards in helping
the Steelers jump out to a 13-0 halftime lead.
The Colts and Steelers will be squaring off in preseason play for the first
time since 2000, but the teams did face another in Indianapolis during Week 3
of last year's regular season, a 23-20 Pittsburgh win. The Colts own an 11-9
edge in the preseason series and have taken the last two meetings, including a
24-23 decision in Mexico City back in 2000.
08/17 11:26:36 ET