In the final game of Week 1 of the NFL preseason, the Carolina Panthers travel to Lucas Oil Stadium to face the Indianapolis Colts. The two teams have practiced together this week and will look to dust the cobwebs off in their first NFL action of the season at 1 pm ET tomorrow.
The Panthers have had a quiet offseason outside of trading for new starting quarterback Sam Darnold. Second-year head coach Matt Rhule has kept his young squad away from the headlines as they look focused heading into their opening preseason contest tomorrow afternoon.
The Indianapolis Colts have had somewhat of a nightmare training camp.
First, head coach Frank Reich tested positive for COVID-19, then quarterback Carson Wentz and offensive lineman Quenton Nelson suffered serious foot injuries, which may see them miss the first week of the regular season.
General manager Chris Ballard and coach Reich signed extensions to their contracts to counter the bad news, giving the Colts some stability at the top for many seasons to come.
So how will the two teams line up for Sunday afternoon's game in Indianapolis?
Carolina Panthers at Indianapolis Colts: Team news
Carolina Panthers head coach Matt Rhule has already ruled out playing any of his starters in tomorrow's game. Panthers fans will have to wait a little longer before seeing Sam Darnold under center in Carolina's colors.
That also means star running back Christian McCaffrey and defensive end Brian Burns won't be taking the field against the Colts. Rhule, however, did not clarify whether the Panthers' first-round draft pick, cornerback Jaycee Horn, would get his first taste of NFL action tomorrow.
The Panthers coach did say that backup P.J. Walker would start at quarterback and share the snaps with third-string quarterback Will Grier.
The Colts' injuries in training camp mean head coach Frank Reich will be more conservative heading into their first preseason clash.
Carson Wentz’s injury allows backup quarterback Jacob Eason and rookie Sam Ehlinger to show if they can hold their own against an NFL defense. The Colts have not rushed to trade for another experienced quarterback, which shows that Reich has trust in the two backups he has on the roster.
Both Eason and Ehlinger will share offensive snaps during the preseason.
With the Panthers having announced they would not be playing their starters, it will be interesting to see how many starters the Colts decide to play tomorrow. Second-year running back Jonathan Taylor may see a couple of series, but the Colts won’t risk losing him to injury.
Carolina Panthers at Indianapolis Colts: Prediction
Oddsmakers have the home team Colts as the -1.5 point favorites. So far, all NFL preseason games have been low-scoring affairs and this one looks set to follow that theme.
The Indianapolis Colts' backup QBs will be desperate to impress, which should help them squeak out a victory tomorrow afternoon.
Prediction: The Colts beat the Panthers in front of their fans 24-18.
Also Check Out: Complete NFL Preseason Schedule 2021