The final preseason contest during the Indianapolis Colts' 2013 schedule arrives Thursday, Aug. 29, and with it the final time the results do not matter in the ultimate scheme of things.
Only on the scoreboard does this apply though, as the injuries, players contributions and position battles will have true results with lasting effects.
Keeping those things in mind, head coach Chuck Pagano remained uncommitted on Tuesday, Aug. 27 about playing time for his starters. Most notably, he left the door open for quarterback Andrew Luck to lead a series against the Cincinnati Bengals at Paul Brown Stadium in Cincinnati, Ohio, but said it would be great if he were to just sit this game out.
Luck did play a series during the final preseason game in 2012, and with the backup spot all but officially announced for Matt Hasselbeck, a final tune up is not out of the question for the second-year pro.
Those two are only a pair of what eventually will become a 53-man roster though by 6 p.m. EST Saturday, Aug. 31. Thursday is the last chance for many players to prove their worth and attempt to make a late sway of front office minds to make the final cut.
"We’ve got a bunch of guys that we talked about (Monday) that still need to be evaluated, guys still trying to make a 53-man roster on both sides," Pagano said. "So they’re going to play and we’re going to play.”
One of those players is Daniel Adongo, a former rugby player from South Africa the Colts signed on July 25.
Having never played football previously in his life, a full set of adjustments has been needed to teach him the game. Training camps being short in length, it is something that has needed to be done quickly.
"It’s amazing what everybody has done with this kid," Pagano said. "Very, very bright guy and he’s picked up the system and the scheme and the nuances of the game. He’s still learning obviously."
Adongo has yet to see the field in the first three preseason games, but he's still gaining a feel for the atmosphere of being in the NFL, as he said he can feel the hairs on his back standing up every time the team takes the field.
It's the team that has been Adongo's guide and anchor to learning the game.
“It’s meant a lot to me from an emotional standpoint," he said. "Coming to America for my first time and playing football for my first time. It’s meant a lot to me. It’s been encouraging. I’ve got a lot of friends.”
Pagano said Tuesday the speed of the game remains his biggest concern for throwing Adongo into the fold, and he may not get any playing time again Thursday.
For others though, injuries remain a concern. Dwayne Allen and Coby Fleener both will not play Thursday, leaving lots of reps for seventh-round draft choice Justice Cunningham at the tight end spot.
"We’d like to get everybody a significant amount of reps," Pagano said. "Some guys will get less than other guys and there might be a few cases where a guy won’t play at all."
Such is life during the NFL preseason, where everything but the score matters.
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