What to watch for: Colts-Bills

INDIANAPOLIS -- The Indianapolis Colts open their preseason with an afternoon game against the Buffalo Bills on Sunday.

Starting tight end Dwayne Allen (foot) and linebacker Jerrell Freeman (shoulder) are definitely out.

Here are three areas to pay attention to during the game:

  1. Mixing in the run. The Colts no longer want to be known as a pass-oriented team on offense. They want to balance things by running the ball more. The Colts finished in the bottom third of the league in yards per carry last season at 3.8 yards. Offensive coordinator Pep Hamilton said they don't have a percentage on how much they want to run the ball. They want to let the flow of the game dictate things. You won't get a real feel for what type of rushing attack the Colts have because Ahmad Bradshaw, whom they signed during the offseason, is still recovering from foot surgery. Vick Ballard, who rushed for 814 yards as a rookie last season, will start, with former first-round pick Donald Brown backing him up.

  2. Protecting the franchise. Andrew Luck's playing time will be limited, but you can use those snaps to get an early indication to see if the offensive line has improved. It has to be, right? General manager Ryan Grigson went out and signed tackle Gosder Cherilus and guard Donald Thomas during the offseason to go with Anthony Castonzo, Samson Satele and Mike McGlynn on the line. Their goal is to do a better job protecting Luck, who was sacked 41 times during his rookie season.

  3. Who will help catch passes? The Colts are set at the top three receiver spots with Reggie Wayne, Darrius Heyward-Bey and T.Y. Hilton. Things get interesting after that. LaVon Brazill is the fourth receiver, but he's suspended for the first four games of the season for violating the league's drug policy. Griff Whalen has been the training camp darling so far, catching almost every pass thrown his way. He can solidify his spot as the fourth receiver during Brazill's absence with strong playing during the preseason.