The returning players likely will make the greatest difference on special teams. Sergio Brown, one of the team’s two best special-teams tacklers, is expected to play against the Giants. His running mate, Joe Lefeged, likely will be a game-time decision after leaving Thursday’s practice with a strained calf.
The kickoff coverage team was of particular concern against Buffalo, allowing a 107-yard touchdown return and an earlier 56-yarder that helped set up a field goal. It’s an area Irsay identified for improvement during the offseason, and one Indianapolis expects to perform better in today.
“We had a lot of those guys down, a lot of guys that made significant roles and (special-teams) contributions last year,” Pagano said. “To not have those guys available, it taxes you, it puts a burden on you. Now you are looking at more offensive guys, guys that typically don’t cover kicks, and it was good for us to find out because we wanted to find out who on the offensive side, who out of the receiver core, who out of the running back core, who out of the tight end core could eventually possibly make this roster because they could become a four-core special-teams unit contributor. It always plays a role.”
The Colts also felt like they left points on the field against the Bills, particularly with the first unit.
A third-down incompletion cut the opening drive short, and the team’s second possession ended with a fumble at the Bills’ 24-yard line.
Starting tight end Dwayne Allen likely will miss his second straight exhibition game, but the rest of the offensive starters are expected to play. And they hope to make an impact in front of a national television audience.
“We got to get points on the board,” Luck said. “However long we’re playing, positive drives ending in points. That’s sort of our goal.”