Colts drop preseason finale, 35-7
The Colts showed little interest in winning their final preseason game, losing 35-7 in Cincinnati Thursday night to the Bengals. The Colts sat out almost their entire starting lineup on offense and defense. The loss completed a perfectly winless preseason for the Colts (0-4).
I know what the record is," said Colts head coach Chuck Pagano. "I know teams have won every game in the preseason and not fared well (in the regular season). I know teams in the past have lost every game in the preseason and fared well. We've got a good football team. We're going to win a lot of games. We've got a lot of things to clean up, period."
Chandler Harnish took every snap for the Colts, generating little offense. He completed 13-of-24 passes for 102 yards. Harnish connected with Da'Rick Rogers for a seven-yard 4th quarter touchdown for the Colts only score of the game. But he also threw an interception returned 33 yards for a touchdown by Danieal Manning for the Bengals.
"We just didn't execute as an offense," said Harnish. "Communication wasn't up to par. We didn't make plays when we had to and we made a big mistake with my interception. We're all at the pro level now and should be able to come out and execute."
Harnish is the third-string quarterback on a team likely to only keep two quarterbacks, Andrew Luck and Matt Hasselbeck. Harnish appears likely to be cut and wind up for a third season on the Colts practice squad.
"The one thing I've learned is you just never know," said Harnish. "It's a business. You never take anything personally. You understand what's going on — injuries and all those sort of things — and the most I know right now is I'm an Indianapolis Colt. I love being a Colt and we'll just roll with the punches as they come."
The Colts started a makeshift offensive line behind Harnish, with Jack Mewhort at center, Lance Louis and Josh Walker at guards, and Joe Reitz and Matt Hall at tackles. When Reitz left the game with a high ankle sprain in the first quarter, he was replaced by Tyler Hoover, a third string undrafted rookie defensive end out of Michigan State. Hoover played the rest of the game.
"It was a huge opportunity," said Hoover, who had not played offensive tackle since his days at Novi High School in Michigan. "The coaches asked if I could try to step up. We've had a number of linemen go down. They knew I had the body for it, the big frame. To tell you the truth, I've been thinking about it for a while; me being able to play another position. So it was a huge opportunity and I couldn't be more thankful. That was the most I ever played offense."
The Colts also allowed a 77 yard punt return for a touchdown and a 50 yard touchdown pass. But a winless preseason should be of no concern for the Colts. The last two times that happened led to 10-6 (2010) and 14-2 (2005) regular season marks.
But before the Colts kickoff the season September 7 in Denver (8:30 p.m. WTHR), the team must trim its roster from 75 to 53 players by 4:00 p.m. Saturday. Colts fifth-round draft pick Jonathan Newsome will not wait nervously by the phone. The rookie defensive end is going to the Cardinals season opener in Muncie Saturday against Colgate.
"I'm confident," said Newsome, "but I don't worry about what I can't control. I just go out there and play hard. That's all I can do. I'm just going to go chill. Hopefully, I'll get the good news."
Saturday also begins the four game suspension for Colts rush linebacker Robert Mathis for failing an NFL drug test for performance enhancing drugs. Mathis admitted to using a fertility drug while he and his wife attempted to grow their family.
The Colts biggest concern has to be with the offensive line. Reitz joined a list of injured players that includes centers Khaled Holmes (ankle) and Jonotthan Harrison (thumb), and tackle Xavier Nixon (knee).
"We've got a lot of injuries," said Pagano. "We don't have a lot of time. And you know what? Nobody really cares, and nobody really feels sorry for us. So, it's next man up."