John Oehser (recently hired by Fanhouse, making the often dreary AOL product much more appealing) has a special up for Colts.com about certain players who are using the fourth and final preseason game as a last ditch, "This is basically my season for me right here" type of game.
For me, players like Javarris James, whose quote above accurately sums up the magnitude of this game for several 'bubble' players, are fighting for the practice squad. After an off-season of OTAs, training camp, and three preseason games, I'm fairly certain the Colts know who is on their 53 man roster. If there is an area that is somewhat fluid now, it's kick and punt returner. Pretty much everything else is likely set, especially when you consider that the Colts are not looking for any starters. They're looking for depth.
After the jump, we list the guys who really need to show something in this fourth game if they are to be considered for the team's practice squad.
Brandon James, WR and KR
He's off the active roster. I'm pretty much willing to bet money on that. I don't care what Jim Caldwell says regarding how 'wide open' the competition is for kick and punt returner. James is not it. In his first real taste of a pro level game, he made a terrible mental error and muffed a punt which was recovered by the opponent for a touchdown. James pretty much needs to go out there against the Bengals and make Devin Hester style plays to even be considered for the PS. Right now, his stone hands and his unreliable returning ability do not justify a roster or practice squad spot.
Ray Fisher, CB
Sort of in the same boat with James, but in slightly better position. Like James, Fisher muffed a punt in preseason. Unlike James, it wasn't a total and complete catastrophe. Fisher has also shown good flashes as a gunner and as a coverage corner. He offers good versatility, which is what the Colts are looking for in both active roster and PS players. Fisher very much is borderline active roster and practice squad. If he has a truly great game against the Bengals, he might give the coaches pause if they are thinking of cutting him.
Ricardo Mathews, DE
Showed a few things against the Packers, but in general this guy has simply been rather 'blah.' The team envisioned him as a rush end when they drafted him, but already players like John Chick and Eric Foster have proven better at the job. Mathews will likely see extended time against the Bengals. If he plays well, he's on the PS. If he doesn't, he'll likely just be cut.
Sam Giguere, WR
He's been a big disappointment in preseason. The Colts have invested a lot of time and energy in Giguere. Yet, he looks slow and hesitant as a returner and he drops lots of easy balls as a receiver. Giguere was brought into the fold in 2008, which means he could be retained on the PS. But, for someone like Giguere, he really should have made his 'jump' by now. Since he hasn't, why bother retaining him? He'll see lots of time at receiver tonight. If he plays well, maybe keep him on the PS in case their is an injury at wideout.
Players who are going to get cut regardless of how they play
These are guys who have underwhelmed during preseason, and stand next to no chance of making this team. I also do not think they'll make the PS, because they have played that poorly (or they are ineligible).
- Adam Terry: Knee injury is limiting him, maybe should retire
- Gijon Robinson: A tight end who cannot catch and a fullback who cannot block
- Mike Newton: Picking off Curtis Painter three times in a scrimmage does not guarantee you anything, especially when you suck playing coverage against real quarterbacks
- Curtis Painter: I'm sticking to my guns on this one. The Colts publicly maintain Painter is the back-up. However, Painter has been dreadful in preseason. Truly dreadful. If the Colts opt not to keep three quarterbacks, Painter should be the one to go. He's been a turnover machine in preseason, and turnovers are the one thing a quarterback cannot afford to commit.
Who are the players you see landing on the PS, or possibly playing well enough to make the 53?