First Impressions – Colts @ Rams

| August 15, 2011

With a plethora of veteran free agents being added to the young core in St. Louis they are hoping to take that next step and build upon their improved 2010 season. In Indianapolis, Peyton Manning’s new contract limited structurally in free agency, so they were looking to see what their young talent could bring to the table.
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The sample size for looks at the starting units were limited as expected – the Rams’ first teams played early into the second quarter with the Colts’ top unit exciting much sooner (halfway through the first quarter).
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Saint Louis – Three Things of Note
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●  The Rams made it an obvious point of emphasis this offseason to upgrade the talent around quarterback Sam Bradford. It has taken little time for second round selection Lance Kendricks to gain Bradford’s trust, but his first (unofficial) catch resulted in a 6 yard touchdown. On his way to the end zone, he made a nice move by lowering his shoulder and laying out cornerback Jerraud Powers at the goal line. Kendricks finished the night with five receptions on seven targets for 47 yards.
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●  General manager Billy Devaney has been clamoring to find an adequate backup for Steven Jackson since his tenure as general manager began in 2008. It seems as if he has finally done it with the acquisitions of Cadillac Williams and Jerious Norwood. The two combined for 19 carries and 77 yards and Williams added a touchdown on a 3rd-and-goal run from the 1-yard line.
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●  With all the good things St. Louis had going in this game, the wide receivers proved to be less than impressive. Mike Sims-Walker left early with a groin injury and the unit as a whole suffered from a couple of drops, most notably Denario Alexander, who failed to bring in a touchdown pass in the back of the end zone. With a logjam at the position, roster spots are there for the taking.
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Indianapolis – Three Things of Note
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●  Limited to only four carries on the night, Donald Brown looked good in limited action. A designed stretch play early in the first quarter (9:39) seemed doomed from the start when Fred Robbins jolted in the backfield, but Brown made something out of nothing by changing direction and picking up 5 yards. One play earlier (10:12) Brown executed a well-designed HB draw to perfection, showing good speed and hitting the hole without hesitation.
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●  Rookie third round pick Drake Nevis showed flash from the DRT position. In the first few series he struggled to push the pocket, but on the fourth he broke through. On the first play of the series he tossed Brit Miller and Jacob Bell to the side to register a hit on Bradford. Nevis also did a nice job at times of using leverage to shed blockers on run plays.
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●  Lets hope for the sake of the Colts’ franchise that Peyton Manning never misses a game. Curtis Painter and Dan Orlovsky couldn’t have played worse. The two were a combined seven of 16 with one touchdown pass and three interceptions. The first interception, which landed in the hands of Quintin Mikell, was just a poorly over thrown ball intended for Austin Collie. On the second, Colts wide out Chris Brooks was the intended receiver but it appeared as if he wasn’t expecting the pass. In turn, the ball flew off of Brooks’ hands allowing Craig Dahl to swoop in for the INT. The third pick was just a poorly thrown ball and an overall bad decision.
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St. Louis looked like a team on the rise by controlling the line of scrimmage on offense and defense. But in fairness to the Colts they usually sleep walk their way through the preseason and with no Peyton Manning they are clearly not the same team. If the Rams can continue to keep Sam Bradford clean and play good defense there’s no reason they can’t challenge to capture NFC West.
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