Colts Winners and Losers from Top-Bottom: Preseason Week 2
TOP OF THE ROSTER
WINNER – Darrius Heyward-Bey, Wide Receiver
For me, this was a toss-up between Darrius Heyward-Bey and linebacker Erik Walden, last week’s Top of the Roster Loser. What made me give Heyward-Bey the edge was that he really did not have any issues on Sunday and he did not do what people knock him for most – dropping the ball. Some may argue he dropped the ball on an incompletion between him and Andrew Luck, but to me it was more of an issue with the throw. Reggie Wayne, Dwayne Allen or T.Y. Hilton likely would not have caught the ball either.
Heyward-Bey ended up as the team’s leading receiver with 4 receptions for 42 yards and in my opinion, no drops. Another positive for him is that after he caught the ball, he showed great effort to get yards after the catch, even if there was a defender right near him and he needed to lower his shoulder. Hilton, his main competition, is still likely get more targets his way than Heyward-Bey will this year, but Heyward-Bey showed quarterback Andrew Luck that he can trust him as well.
LOSER – Coby Fleener, Tight End
Coby Fleener has really had a rough go of things the past two weeks. Most expected him to bounce back from a lackluster rookie campaign to truly show how good he is. However, that has only showed on the practice field, and the actually gridiron has been a different story.
After fumbling the ball after a nice catch and run and then dropping a touchdown pass last week, Fleener followed that up with another drop this week. The drop came on a fantastic escape from Andrew Luck on the offense’s second play. They were backed up near their own goal line, and Luck rolled out and launched a perfect pass through the hands of Fleener. Had he made the catch, he would have had much more than a third down. Later in the game, backup quarterback Matt Hasselbeck found Fleener in between defenders for what would have been a great play if Fleener ever would have turned around to locate the ball. The ball hit Fleener in the back and frustration built even further towards him.
With fellow tight end Dwayne Allen missing the last two weeks of action with a foot injury, it was a great chance for Fleener to step up and show that he is the man among the tight end group, but all he has done thus far is make fans miss Allen that much more.
BOTTOM OF THE ROSTER
WINNER – Caesar Rayford, Outside Linebacker
After forcing a fumble that was returned for a touchdown last week, Caesar Rayford notched two more sacks this week. He, along with last week’s Bottom of the Roster Winner Delano Howell seem to both have locked up final roster spots with their performances thus far in camp and in preseason.
Rayford shows a good motor in getting to the quarterback, as well as on special teams coverage and kick/punt blocking. There is always room for a guy who can excel on special teams then chip in on defense.
Injuries to other linebackers Justin Hickman and Josh McNary further the need for a linebacker with Rayford’s traits.
LOSER – Sergio Brown, Safety
Sergio Brown is in danger of losing his spot on the final roster for a couple of reasons. First, his performance in the preseason has left much to be desired. He is usually a special teamer during the regular season but he has not shown much on the defensive side of the ball these past two weeks. Next, the Colts are undergoing a youth movement with their backups at safety.
They drafted John Boyett in the 2013 draft, already had Joe Lefeged on the roster and they appear to have discovered a diamond in the rough in Delano Howell. Howell has played admirably this preseason while filling in for starting strong safety LaRon Landry. With Howell essentially securing himself a roster spot, someone has to be the odd man out. It may not end up being Brown, but for now that is where the arrow points.