Indianapolis Colts Rookie Report: Week 1 vs

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. Cincinnati Bengals Indianapolis started 5 rookies in a season opener for the first time since 1982 on Sunday afternoon [url=http://www.coltsauthorizedshops.com/authentic-j_marcus-webb-jersey]Authentic J'Marcus Webb Jersey[/url] , which is the first time since the franchise has been in Indiana. If you followed the team at all through the eighties and early nineties, you’ll find that statistic pretty impressive. Granted, Braden Smith was in for the first play and limited to only three other snaps in the game but the youth movement is very real for the Colts, and Chris Ballard isn’t being shy about giving the rookies PT. We will examine how much each of the rookies played on Sunday and consider how much of an impact they played in the outcome of the game.OFFENSEThe offensive line featured Quenton Nelson taking all 82 offensive snaps. The aforementioned Smith took four snaps and was brought in an eligible receiver in jumbo packages to get an extra lineman on the field. In his four snaps, Smith allowed a sack to Carlos Dunlap. In his 82 offensive snaps, Nelson was called for holding on the second offensive play of the game in his “welcome to the NFL” moment against Geno Atkins. On the very next play, he was driven back into Andrew Luck’s face and gave up some pressure. Nelson went to the ground while blocking Atkins later in the game but it didn’t impact the outcome of the play. On another play, Nelson was beat by Atkins to the inside and allowed Atkins to effectively stuff a run up the middle. Atkins finished the game with a sack that should be credited to Joe Haeg and a couple of additional quarterback hits, neither which were Nelson’s responsibility. Against what is arguably the best defensive line the Colts could play this season, Nelson held up quite well. In the backfield, Nyheim Hines and Jordan Wilkins were on the field for a total of 83 total plays. Neither lit up the stats sheet on the ground but they received the bulk of the backfield responsibility, even with veteran Christine Michael available to carry the load. They tallied 19 carries for 59 yards, which is just slightly better than three yard per carry. They also hauled in a 10 passes for 54 yards.One of the most impressive aspects of the Colts offense, primarily in the first half, was the multitude of different looks they threw out on the field to create mismatches and dictate the pace of the game. Hines didn’t put the ball on the ground and showed the speed that helped get him to the NFL on more than one occasion. The are reasons to believe that he will continue to be an active part of the rotation when Marlon Mack and Robert Turbin return to the field.DEFENSEWhile it is true that the only rookie defensive starters were linebackers Darius Leonard and Skai Moore, this only tells part of the story. In fact, if you want to fully understand the emphasis Ballard is placing on getting young players experience, this is where it is on full display. Darius Leonard played all 55 defensive snaps in his first NFL game. He gathered 9 total tackles to lead the team and a recovered a fumble. His presence on the field is underrepresented by his stat sheet. It has been a very long time since any linebacker has played in Indianapolis with this kind of range. He was impacting the game all over the field and earning his “maniac” nickname.He was joined by former undrafted free agent, turned rookie NFL starter [url=http://www.coltsauthorizedshops.com/authentic-chester-rogers-jersey]Youth Chester Rogers Jersey[/url] , Skai Moore in the MIKE role. Moore was on the field for 26 snaps and gathered 2 tackles. He split his time with second-year linebacker Anthony Walker, who participated on 23 defensive snaps and picked up 5 tackles and a hit on Andy Dalton.What may be even more impressive is that the starting SAM linebacker was rookie seventh round pick Zaire Franklin, whose 9 snaps were more than veteran Najee Goode’s 7. The defensive line also included a strong rookie representation with Kemoko Turay in on 22 snaps, for 40% of the load. Unfortunately for Turay, he was not credited with any sacks or hits on the quarterback. In fact, his only entry in the stat sheet is a penalty for a horse collar tackle on Giovani Bernard.Second-year cornerbacks Kenny Moore and Nate Hairston were both on the field for 54 of 55 defensive snaps. Second-year free safety Malik Hooker was in on 73% of the team’s defensive snaps. Second-year cornerback Quincy Wilson was in on 39 and second-year defensive linemen Grover Stewart and Tarell Basham added 22 and 9 respectively. ANALYSISThis Colts roster is dominated by young players and Chris Ballard is wasting no time getting his players onto the field — especially on defense. This philosophy will likely include some growing pains but by mid-season fans should have a pretty good sense of where the team’s talent stands as they prepare to head down the stretch.AFC South Roundup: A look around the division heading into week four The Colts have had a pretty tough stretch of schedule to start the season and have looked competitive, but only managed to come out of their first three games with one win. With a home matchup against the Houston Texans set for Sunday, it is time to take a look around the AFC South and see how things are looking for the Colts in terms of their divisional opponents. Tennessee Titans (2-1)Photo by Frederick Breedon/Getty ImagesThe first stop is with the Tennessee Titans, who surprised people by beating Jacksonville in a real barn burner that finished 9 to 6. The divisional win over the Jaguars makes the Titans 2-0 in the division, which is no small thing. However, they’ll face a tough upcoming game with the Eagles heading to Nashville and they are unlikely to be held to just 6 points as were the Jaguars. However, the team has won the games they really needed to, and put themselves atop the division. While they are in first place, they still have a ton of questions, not the least of which is that Marcus Mariota still can’t feel his fingers, which is a big deal for a QB. They’ll need to have great performances in spite of those problems, because the Jaguars aren’t likely to fall back far, and the Colts schedule is about to open up, which will make the top of this division a lot more competitive. For now though [url=http://www.coltsauthorizedshops.com/authentic-denico-autry-jersey]http://www.coltsauthorizedshops.com/authentic-denico-autry-jersey[/url] , they are doing enough to stay ahead, while attempting to get healthy. If they can do that and get wins through good coaching and defensive play, they’ll just get tougher down the stretch.Jacksonville Jaguars (2-1)Photo by Julio Aguilar/Getty ImagesThe Jaguars are the most straight forward team in the AFC South. They have a bad quarterback and a ridiculously good defense. They can win against most teams on the strength of that defense alone, but when Bortles makes mistakes or when they can’t dominate a team defensively, they end up with stinkers like their last game. With Leonard Fournette out, this team just doesn’t have any real offensive weapons, and no team is going to lose sleep over Bortles’ ability to beat them through the air. This loss hurts because those divisional games are precious, and the AFC South is shaping up to be a close and hard fought division. A game against the Jets at home should help this team get back on track, because this isn’t a defense that a rookie quarterback wants to face, but that will be Sam Darnold’s task. The Titans have seemed to have Jacksonville’s number somewhat in the past couple years, so I don’t view this loss as indicative of a likely fall, but it does highlight their critical weakness, and shows that maybe they aren’t ready to be crowned top of the AFC like so many have claimed. Houston Texans (0-3)Photo by Bob Levey/Getty ImagesWhat is there to say about the poor Texans? They’re the team that should be good, but they haven’t won a game yet. They have what could be one of the most formidable defenses in the AFC, yet they rank somewhere in the middle of the pack in terms of run and pass defense. They have a prolific talent in Deshaun Watson, but he is coming back from an ACL tear and forced to run for his life behind what is almost certainly the worst offensive line in football. There is an argument to be made that this team could begin to round into form. All three of their losses have been by one score. They also started the season out with two road games, which certainly makes things tougher. Additionally, their offensive linemen are very young, which means that they could settle in and get more comfortable as the season goes on. The reality is though [url=http://www.coltsauthorizedshops.com/authentic-skai-moore-jersey]Skai Moore Jersey[/url] , that this team needs to start winning now, and it needs its defense to become a serious difference maker if they want to hang with a division that has gotten much more competitive. With a road game against the Colts threatening to push them to 0-4, this is a season that is quickly getting away from them.How the Colts fit into this picture (1-2)Photo by Mitchell Leff/Getty ImagesThe Colts have lost two games they should have won. They’ve been an inconsistent team that has been carried largely by their defense. Additionally, they’ve been hampered by injuries to their best offensive lineman, left tackle Anthony Castonzo, their best running back, Marlon Mack, and their best tight end, Jack Doyle. Add in that Andrew Luck is still getting familiar with a new offense and getting used to football after a year away with a shoulder injury, and you have some understandable inconsistency.While there is plenty of room to be disappointed in the offensive performance as well as the team’s record, there is also plenty of room for optimism. The Colts schedule is favorable for the next several weeks, with the Texans coming to town, then a Patriots team who has suffered double digit losses in their last two games, and the Jets, Bills, and Raiders to round out the schedule heading into the bye week. The Colts have a very young roster that is learning a new scheme on offense and defense. We haven’t seen them at their full potential yet, and Andrew Luck is still getting his bearings. When Anthony Castonzo is able to return and sure up the offensive line, I expect we will see this offense begin to take more of the shape we can expect of it down the stretch. The next few weeks will be critical in determining how this season plays out for the Colts.

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