The Herald Bulletin

August 5, 2013

George Bremer: Preseason opener will provide some answers

By George Bremer
The Herald Bulletin

— Answers finally should be on the way. Training camp is nice to get a gauge of where everyone is lining up and what the storylines are around the Indianapolis Colts.

But so much more will be revealed Sunday when the team finally lines up against opponents with a different logo on their helmet.

The Buffalo Bills come to Lucas Oil Stadium for the exhibition debut, and they should present a unique challenge. New head coach Doug Marrone is expected to run an offense that is similar to the "K-Gun" attack Marv Levy employed when the team made four consecutive Super Bowl appearances in the early 1990s.

How much of that offense Marrone will put on display Sunday remains to be seen. Teams do very little game planning in advance of the first preseason week, and coaches obviously like to keep as many secrets as they can for the regular season.

But just about anything Buffalo does will provide the Colts with a new look. And how players respond to that look will say a lot about them.

"I think games are so much more fun," rookie outside linebacker Bjoern Werner said. "You can tackle and stuff like that. I'm really looking forward to it."

Tackling is a big issue in training camp.

Nose tackle Josh Chapman said the relative lack of contact can be good for a player. It forces players to get in the right position and make it clear they are in place to make a stop without taking the other player to the ground.

Chapman said that's good for perfecting technique and working on reads and other mental aspects of the game. But it can make it tough to fully evaluate a player.

A big part of strong safety LaRon Landry's game, for example, is intimidation. It's hard to see much of that when running backs and wide receivers have no fear of being hit. That puts Landry on a short list of players that I'm really looking forward to watching Sunday.

Most of the others play on either the offensive or defensive line.

There's been plenty of contact for those players in one-on-one drills, and you can get a decent read on the offensive lineman during team drills in pads. But only goal-line work is "live," with players moving at full speed and ballcarriers being taken to the ground.

You can learn a lot about a player's technique, speed and conditioning during the average afternoon practice at Anderson University. But there are some things you just can't see until the games begin.

For a team focusing so greatly on the physical aspects of the game this season — power running and stuffing the run — the exhibition games should take on added meaning.

It won't matter much what the scoreboard says at the end of the day.

But there are other ways for messages to be sent. And on Sunday, they will begin to be delivered.