Bears at Colts: Areas of interest (yes, that includes the QBs)

INDIANAPOLIS, IN - AUGUST 17: Head coach Frank Reich of the Indianapolis Colts is seen during the preseason game against the Cleveland Browns at Lucas Oil Stadium on August 17, 2019 in Indianapolis, Indiana. (Photo by Michael Hickey/Getty Images)

INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. – Areas of interest in the Indianapolis Colts’ preseason game with the Chicago Bears Saturday night at Lucas Oil Stadium.

  • Kickoff: 7 p.m.
  • Broadcast: WXIN

It’s the QBs: Andrew Luck won’t play. He’s still in rehab mode. Ditto, backup-turned-starter Jacoby Brissett. Frank Reich is protecting most, if not all of his front-line players and that includes Brissett. If Luck’s rehab from his strained left calf and ankle issue stalls, Brissett is QB1 in the Sept. 8 opener against the Los Angeles Chargers.

But while Luck won’t see any action against his friend and former defensive coordinator – that would be Chuck Pagano – we’ll be interested to see whether he makes another pregame appearance with an individual workout. That was the case prior to last weekend’s Cleveland game, and the session – exertive lateral movement, stepping over pads on the turf and throwing – offered a glimpse of what Luck’s doing away from his teammates.

We’re still in the camp that has Luck being ready for the opener. It’s based on nothing other than a gut feeling. We’re convinced he’s using every possible moment to test his lower left leg/ankle, and that includes prior to preseason games.

It’s the QBs, Part 2: With the traditional final dress rehearsal of week 3 downgraded to backups vs. backups, the attention shifts to Phillip Walker and Chad Kelly. It’s our guess Walker starts and Kelly finishes, and there’s plenty on the line for each.

The uncertainty surrounding Luck’s availability might force GM Chris Ballard and Reich to carry three QBs on the 53-man roster, although it’s possible the third QB could land on the practice squad and be elevated to the active roster prior to the Chargers game. If the Colts opt for a third QB on the opening day roster, it’ll be Walker or someone claimed off waivers after rosters are trimmed to 53 Aug. 31. Remember, Kelly is suspended for the first two games of the season for violating the NFL’s personal conduct policy.

Kelly is in the midst of a solid preseason: 25-of-36 (69.4 percent) for 236 yards and one touchdown; 53 rushing yards, including a 33-yard TD. Walker has been better than his numbers indicate: 18-of-35, 194 yards, one interception.

Perhaps Walker cements his position as the No. 3 QB with solid outings against the Bears and Aug. 29 at Cincinnati. But if he falters and Kelly continues to make plays, there’s every chance he’s the third guy once his suspension ends. He appears to have the higher upside.

Making final push: Do the Colts keep five receivers, or six? Stay tuned. If it’s six, that final spot could come down to Zach Pascal or Krishawn Hogan. Pascal is a stud on special teams, but Hogan might offer more pop on offense.

The former Warren Central H.S. and Marian University standout is healthy and having a stellar preseason. In two games, he’s caught four passes for 61 yards. Again, he might lose out in the numbers game. If so, it’s critical for him to compile good video for the 31 other teams. Somebody always needs a young wideout with size (6-3, 217).

Making final push, Part 2: We’ll stick with the offense, and turn our attention to the tight ends room. Eric Ebron, Jack Doyle and Mo Alie-Cox are virtual locks to make the final 53. But if the Colts opt to carry four tight ends – and that’s a real possibility – the decision comes down to Ross Travis or rookie Hale Hentges.

And complicating that decision is the fact they’re disparate talents. Travis is cut from the pass-catching mode. Hentges is the better blocker, although he’s simply caught everything thrown in his direction.

You can follow Mike Chappell on Twitter at @mchappell51

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