INDIANAPOLIS — The curtain is about to be pulled back a bit on the 2013 season tonight at Lucas Oil Stadium.
The Indianapolis Colts host the Cleveland Browns in the third week of the preseason, the game traditionally used by coaches as a kind of dress rehearsal for the regular season.
Starters are expected to play the entire first half and the first series of the third quarter, and both teams put in game plans during the week similar to the way they’ll approach the games that count beginning Sept. 8.
It won’t yet be a true measuring stick for the Colts, but it is the next best thing.
“Whenever you step out there, you want to put your best foot forward,” wide receiver Reggie Wayne said. “Now, being that this is the game that (starters) play the most, it may be more emphasis on that. But whenever you’re out there on that field, you want to go out there and put your best foot forward.”
Indianapolis did that for the most part last week, with the first-team offense scoring on three consecutive drives in the first half of a 20-12 victory against the New York Giants. That helped erase the bad taste of a 44-20 loss against the Buffalo Bills in the preseason opener.
The Browns, under first-year head coach Rob Chudzinski, are 2-0 in the preseason. And their first-team defense has surrendered just three points.
Cleveland rookie outside linebacker Barkevious Mingo won’t play after suffering a bruised lung last week, but the Browns are otherwise healthy defensively.
The Colts will play without tight ends Coby Fleener and Dwayne Allen, and Jeff Linkenbach will start at right guard in place of Mike McGlynn — who injured his knee in practice. Rookie guard Hugh Thornton is expected to make his NFL debut tonight, and head coach Chuck Pagano said he’d like to see Thornton get at least a few snaps in the first half.