Even though it’s the preseason, the signal callers are still a storyline. Tom Brady has returned from his training camp hiatus and will start opposite Matt Ryan.
But the two signal callers don’t figure to play very long in this matchup. Neither will Colts running backs Jonathan Taylor and Nyheim Hines. In fact, Indianapolis head coach Frank Reich told the media on August 25 that they won’t play at all.
Instead, Reich plans to use the final preseason game as an opportunity to test the Colts’ depth at running back.
“We have some good running backs. We want to get a look at all of these guys,” Reich said. “We want to make sure these young guys get enough carries.”
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Colts Depth at Running Back
Indianapolis could prove to have the best 1-2 punch in the backfield this fall. But even beyond Taylor and Hines, the Colts possess talent at running back.
Phillip Lindsay is expected to serve as the No. 3 back for Indianapolis. He is a two-time 1,000-yard rusher and made the Pro Bowl as a rookie in 2018.
Lindsay really struggled last season, averaging 2.8 yards per rush, but that was behind poor offensive lines in Houston and Miami. Lindsay will aim to perform well versus the Buccaneers to solidify his No. 3 position.
He won’t receive very many touches in that role, but he’s an insurance policy in case something happens to either Taylor or Hines.
The Colts also have Deon Jackson, Ty’son Williams and D’vonte Price on the roster at running back.
Jackson rushed 13 times as an undrafted rookie last year, posting 31 yards and a touchdown. Playing for the Baltimore Ravens, Williams was also an undrafted free agent last season. He averaged 5.3 yards per carry on limited touches (185 yards on 35 carries).
Those four running backs will see all the snaps in the backfield against Tampa Bay. The Colts won’t be keeping six running backs on the active roster, so how each back plays versus the Buccaneers could be pivotal to who makes it through the final cut.
“We all know where Nyheim is and what role he’s going to play,” Reich said. “He and JT (Jonathan Taylor) will sit out and then we will let some of those other young running backs play so we can make that tough decision.”
Ryan vs. Brady
One of the underlying perks Ryan received through his offseason trade was getting away from Brady in the NFC South. Brady has won all eight meetings between the two quarterbacks, including the Super Bowl matchup in February 2017. Brady is 4-0 against Ryan as Tampa Bay’s quarterback.
Ryan aiming to shed the goose egg in the win column versus Brady would be a major story for this matchup if it weren’t the preseason.
Even still, it’s must-see football when two likely future Hall of Fame quarterbacks square off.
Ryan returns to the field after sitting out, along with the other Colts starters, Week 2 in the preseason. Outside of the team’s top two running backs, Reich is treating the matchup against Tampa Bay as a dress rehearsal.
“Just sync things up, get everybody on the same page, get the feel and the rhythm of what it’s like out there in Lucas Oil [Stadium],” Reich said. “I think it will be a good test for us. Really, just iron out details, kind of get game ready, and when we feel like we’ve got that work, we’ll pull the guys out.”