The Indianapolis Colts (0-0) and Buffalo Bills (0-0) get their 2019 preseason started out in New York on Thursday evening, giving fans relief from months and months of being without football.
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In this first preseason matchup, it is likely that many established starters either play very few snaps if at all, so it will be a great chance to get a look at each team’s rookies and other budding, young players.
Here is everything you need to know to get you ready for Thursday’s preseason kickoff.
Thursday, Aug. 8, at 7 p.m. ET
Buffalo, N.Y.; New Era Field
TV: FOX59 (WXIN) — Greg Rakestraw (play-by-play), Rick Venturi (color) and Larra Overton (sideline)
To find out what games will be on in your area, check here.
Radio: WFNI “1070 The Fan” and WLHK “HANK FM” — Matt Taylor (play-by-play), Jim Sorgi (color) and Jeffrey Gorman (sideline)
Bills lead, 32-37-1. In the preseason, the teams are tied 4-4.
Last game — Week 7 of 2018. Colts won, 37-5. The Colts won the last preseason matchup in 2016, 19-18.
Frank Reich and the rest of the Colts’ coaching staff made their goals for the preseason clear in the past couple of days.
“We always play to win, right,” Reich said. “But at the end of the day, you’re really just evaluating the players and who’s going to be on this roster.”
For that reason, a handful of the Colts’ established starters — running back Marlon Mack is one — will not play in Thursday night’s game, and Indianapolis will hold out any player battling injury. The Colts also will likely limit how much of the playbook they put on film for other teams to see; Indianapolis wants to put players in a position where they can be best evaluated.
“You are looking at, really, just the young guys this first time out, you want to see those guys perform and tackle,” defensive coordinator Matt Eberflus said. “We’re not going to run a lot of defenses like we did last preseason, and that’s by design.”
The preseason opener in Seattle last August was costly.
Indianapolis lost Deon Cain for the season and Marlon Mack for most of the season’s first month, injuries that ended up playing a key role as the Colts stumbled out of the gate to a 1-5 start.
That’s why, in part, Indianapolis will hold a handful of players out of action. Reich did not disclose the full list in his final interview session Tuesday, but the safe bet is that key players, starters who are already established in their roles, will be held out of the game.
Cain, on the other hand, will likely play a quarter or longer in Thursday night’s game, the final sign that he’s put the knee injury of last season behind him. While Indianapolis has given Cain a day off here or there in camp to give his knee a little extra rest, the second-year wide receiver has been close to full tilt ever since practices began at Grand Park, and Thursday night is an opportunity for him to show how far he’s come.
“I think it’s important for him, and he’s ready,” Reich said. “It’s that time, and (we’re) looking forward to getting him out there.”