The Colts won their first football game in the Frank Reich era. Most importantly, Andrew Luck triumphantly returned to the football field. Even more importantly, he took a direct hit to the shoulder, got up, and smiled. That’s the Andrew we all know. Nonetheless, there was plenty of good, plenty of bad, and even some Mark Glowinski bad. Unfortunately, in true presason fashion, the Colts have already suffered a devastating season-ending injury to rookie wideout Deon Cain. Marlon Mack also suffered a hamstring injury that could end his preseason. With all of that being said, let’s take stock of three Colts who increased in value and three who had their value falter.
Hassan Ridgeway, IDL
Through the first two and a half quarters, the Colts struggled to pressure Seattle’s quarterbacks. Despite a poor offensive line, former standouts like Jabaal Sheard struggled to bother the Russell Wilson and Austin Davis. However, Hassan Ridgeway showed some serious potential in the pass rushing department.
In 2017, Ridgeway recorded three sacks and five tackles in limited playing time. Ridgeway was always incredibly raw in his technique. He possesses a rare blend of power, quickness, and athleticism but hasn’t figured it out at this point. In the first preseason game, he showed a refined technique that we haven’t seen from Ridgeway in the past.
Hassan Ridgeway had himself a game last night. Nice move here for the sack pic.twitter.com/ZKBEM7kb2r
— Zach Hicks (@ZachHicks2) August 10, 2018
Ridgeway punches strong at the snap, getting the guard off balance. Once he squares up, a violent swipe gets him around the guard with ease. We should see Ridgeway get more snaps with the ones in the next preseason game against Baltimore. Dominating backup guards and dominating Marshal Yanda type guards are two different animals. Moreover, what we saw from Ridgeway on Thursday was incredibly promising in a Colts’ defensive line room devoid of talented pass rushers.
Skai Moore, LB
An undrafted rookie free agent of South Carolina, scouts heralded Moore for his excellent coverage ability and short area quickness. He played very well in coverage during training camp and carried over that momentum into the preseason. In the modern NFL, linebackers who can cover are a premium and something the Colts lack. Moore isn’t strong, isn’t a twitchy athlete, and doesn’t defend the run well but the Colts aren’t asking him to be a strong side linebacker.
Moore’s instincts in coverage are great for a rookie.
Great read and break on the ball by Skai Moore here. I like him at Mike to be honest. Really solid as a pass cover linebacker pic.twitter.com/4MDiQKUJv3
— Zach Hicks (@ZachHicks2) August 10, 2018
Moore breaks on the ball like a cornerback here, breaking up the pass. Sure, Moore took some bad angles last night and struggled to deal with blocks but this was all expected. His coverage ability alone should see him playing significant minutes as the MIKE in Nickel and Dime packages.
Kasen Williams, WR
Following the injury to Deon Cain, the Colts’ depth at wide receiver is paper thin. Behind T.Y. Hilton, every other roster spot is up for grabs. Ryan Grant is the de facto number two and should stay that way for now due to his balanced game. Chester Rogers looks to take up the slot duties but his job is far from safe. Luckily for the Colts, multiple receivers stood out in Seattle, namely Zach Pascal, Kasen K.J. Brent, and Kasen Williams.
Of the three, Williams impressed me the most. He showed a refined ability running his routes, a good ability to find the soft spot in zones, good hands, and solid after the catch ability. Williams recorded the second highest grade for the Colts via PFF with an 86.4. He showed a good connection with Phillip Walker, catching three balls for 46 yards including a 33-yard connection. If Williams continues to impress, he could sneak his way onto the final 53-man roster.
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Unlike his rookie guard counterpart Quenton Nelson, Braden Smith struggled mightily. He was beaten by power, by speed, and by finesse by multiple Seattle Seahawks. He struggled in pass protection and failed to stand his ground in run defense. Smith is a very athletic player but his raw nature shone through. He will need to clean up his technique if he wants a chance to start in the regular season.
To be fair to Haeg, most of his struggles came at the tackle position, which isn’t his natural position. However, he can’t be excused on a Colts line which lacks sufficient depth at the tackle position. Haeg could not keep up with Seattle’s speed on the outside, losing to speed rushers on multiple occasions. Namely, Rasheem Green used his pure athletic ability to beat Haeg multiple times. However, Haeg did fill in at center after the Mark Glowinski meltdown and did a solid job. If Anthony Castonzo ever goes down, Haeg will need to improve if he wants a chance to start in his place at tackle.
I wasn’t sure which corner to include on this list since all of them not named Nate Hairston had a poor game on Thursday. Moore had one play where he played the receiver perfectly but failed to turn and play the ball, resulting in a big gain. Russell Wilson carved up the Colts’ starting defense, throwing all over the place. Moore was burned in man coverage multiple times, took bad angles in tackling, and lost contain on Wilson. The Colts cornerback room may be the worst in the NFL, meaning more players will have to step up and play better than expectations.
Ben Pfeifer is the Managing Editor of the Colts for Full Press Coverage, the AFC South Division Editor, and head NBA editor. Want to continue the discussion? Contact Ben Pfeifer on Twitter @Ben_Pfeifer_, @FPC_NBA and @FPC_Colts.