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That’s what happened when Sunday night’s Pro Football Hall of Fame Game with the Green Bay Packers was cancelled due to poor field conditions in Canton.
While the majority of the Indianapolis Colts’ first-team offensive and defensive players weren’t expected to see a lot of playing time against the Packers, the game would have given the coaching staff and the front office ample opportunity to take a look at the team’s younger players and backups.
Several rookies and first-year players were expected to get their first real chances of seeing extended work since the start of training camp. Now they’ll have to wait until Saturday night’s preseason game at Buffalo to get on the field.
“Obviously we’re disappointed because we lost out on an opportunity to play a great organization and a great team like the Packers and to see our team play in a game situation and see our young guys play,” head coach Chuck Pagano said Monday.
“I’m disappointed for our fans and all the fans that went to great lengths to make the trip. We were disappointed for that. We had a bunch of players, obviously young players with family that traveled, some further than others, so we’re disappointed for them. But at the end of the day, the decision that was made was the right decision. Player safety is paramount, as we know. We’ve moved on from that, [now] back to practice.”
The Colts didn’t practice Monday, so Tuesday was the team’s first day back on the practice field. Indianapolis will practice again Wednesday afternoon and then wrap up training camp after a Thursday morning workout.
Pagano said that he had hoped to use the first two preseason games to take a much longer long at several of his younger and bottom of the roster players. The Colts were scheduled to play five preseason games this year. Now, after the Hall of Fame Game cancellation, it’s down to a more traditional four.
“Well, the good thing is as we looked at it, we were going to basically treat [preseason] games one and two as one. We missed out on those snaps in Week 1. So we’ll adjust and go back and look at it and see how this week goes,” the Indianapolis coach said.
“[We’ll] look at our depth situation and our injury situation and who we get back and make sure nobody else goes down so to speak. We’ll make an assessment and adjustment based on that and get the guys an appropriate amount of reps [against the Bills].”
Pagano is hoping to make the best out of an unfortunate situation. The coaching staff still needs to find out who can help the team going forward.
“In the sense that you didn’t get real game action, we didn’t see who could block for real [or] tackle, tackle in space and play special teams. Especially on the back end of the roster. Those guys were going to play a significant amount of snaps on offense and defense,” Pagano explained.
“But they are going to be involved in a ton of special teams’ plays. See who could play in space, who could cover a kick and come to balance in the open field and get a really good athlete on the ground with a bunch of grass out there. We didn’t get to see that stuff and we didn’t get to see if the game was too big for some guys, being under the lights for the first time and seeing if that would affect them from a mental standpoint.”
Pagano said that he can only see so much in a practice situation. Playing in an actual game is where roster spots can be won.
“Just playing situational football, playing down after down after down and then having a really good player across from you with the handcuffs off, so to speak,” Pagano noted. “It’s live, mono-y-mono. So, in that sense, we are still kind of waiting because we are not going to scrimmage [in training camp].”