Second-year quarterback Andrew Luck played most of the first half against the Giants and threw two touchdown passes. His goals tonight remain consistent.
“Always improve, number one,” he said. “You want to win, like any game, and again put drives together. Put good, long drives together. Score points. Be an efficient offense.”
Veteran running back Ahmad Bradshaw again will be held out as a precaution, even though he increased his practice reps throughout the week. But a pair of defensive veterans will make their first appearances of the season.
Strong safety LaRon Landry, who missed three weeks of practice and the first two preseason games with a knee injury, returned to the field this week and will make his Colts debut tonight.
“Quite anxious,” Landry said. “Hopefully, I won’t overdo it when I get out there.”
Inside linebacker Pat Angerer, who has been recovering from a foot injury throughout the offseason, also is expected to play tonight. Pagano said he will try to protect Angerer, and the linebacker could play just 15 to 20 snaps.
Other veteran starters such as Wayne, outside linebacker Robert Mathis and defensive end Cory Redding could be protected as well. Pagano said the flow of the game will determine in part how long they remain on the field.
Once the starters leave for good early in the third quarter, the roster competition will really heat up. Indianapolis must cut its 90-man roster to 75 players by 4 p.m. Tuesday. And the final cut to 53 players is due four days later, following the final exhibition game at Cincinnati.
So tonight’s game will be the final opportunity to turn heads and put highlights on tape for 15 players.
“Really important game, as you know, with the 75-man cut down coming up on Tuesday,” Pagano said. “Getting to 75, it’s very important for a lot of these young players, free-agent guys, to go out and play well and make a case for themselves.”