Now that the roster is set, there are some surprises and some expectations confirmed.
QB - Manning, Collins, Painter
I had hoped that the Colts would keep only 2 as a sign definite sign of Manning's imminent return, but nobody should be surprised to see that these are the 3 QBs to make the roster.
RB - Addai, Carter, Spann, Brown, Evans
I'm not a big fan of Brown, but again, nobody should be surprised that he's on the roster. People are saying the Colts are shopping Spann, but I wouldn't be surprised to see Donald Brown gone in a trade. Teams may be very interested in a former first round pick who has shown "glimpses" of ability, however few and far between those glimpses have been. Expect the Colts to deal one of Spann/Brown/Evans some time soon.
WR - Wayne, Collie, Garcon, Gonzalez, White
With Blair White off the PUP, it should come as no surprise that these are the 5 the team opted to go with. Gonzalez is just so much more talented than any of the other options, it simply wouldn't have been smart to let him go in the last year of his rookie contract. The good news is, his hamstring injury clearly isn't too serious, and we should expect him back sooner than later. If these 5 play all year long, the Colts have arguably the best receiving corps in the league. Gilreath will turn up on the PS, and be the first man up if injury hits one of the current 5.
TE - Clark, Eldridge, Tamme, McNeill
I noted a while ago that I thought McNeill seemed like a very good receiving option, but I didn't think it would translate to anything more than a PS spot. Now he's on the big team, and I expect the reason is because of Dallas Clark. Let's face it, TEs generally do not have productive years beyond their early 30s (Gates/Gonzalez are the exception, not the rule). Clark is 32 already, he's likely only got another 1 or 2 productive years, or 3 if the Colts are lucky. They are high enough on McNeill that they think he may be Clark's successor as a receiving TE (his blocking is bad right now, but clark started off as a very bad blocker as well), that they didn't want to risk losing him in trying to get him to the PS.
OL - Castonzo, Reitz, Saturday, Diem, Link, Pollak, Ijalana, Richard
I'm baffled to be honest. Jamey Richard is probably the worst player on the team. As bad as Pollak is, Richard is worse. He has no business being in the NFL. I'm just dumbfounded that the Colts only have 8 linemen, none of which is McClendon/DeVan. I can only assume that the Colts intend to pick up a castoff or acquire a serviceable vet by trade, but in either case, the retention of Richard is just a mindfrakker.
S - Bethea, Lefeged, Caldwell, Bullitt
No surprises here really..I thought there was a chance they would keep 5 (Afalava), but they opted for more CBs instead of extra safeties. I can follow the reasoning, and I'm ok with this roster spot (not saying it's good, I'm just ok with who they kept and let go).
CB - Powers, Tryon, Thomas, Johnson, Lacey, Rucker
Johnson is a bit of a surprise, though the twitter rumors made it expected for today. There's talk of Johnson possibly being the 3rd CB on the depth chart, which just makes me hope and pray that this means the depth chart is Powers, Tryon, Johnson, Thomas, Lacey, Rucker. Please, do not have Lacey as the LCB on opening day. Please.
LB - Brackett, Angerer, Sims, Moten, Wheeler, Conner
No surprises here, this turned out exactly like everybody should have expected.
DE - Freeney, Mathis, Anderson, Hughes, Brayton
I may be one of the few, but I'm just sad that the Colts picked Brayton and Hughes over Chick. I understand the politics of keeping Hughes, and I expected them to do it, but Brayton just hasn't been anything more than serviceable so far, and Chick would have given the colts a real 3rd edge pass rusher for the first time in a long time. Brayton is just an inferior Anderson. I'm disappointed in this set.
DT - Johnson, Moala, Nevis, Foster
Really? That's it? 4 DTs one of whom is Foster???? Are you frakking kidding me? This has got to be the worst set of roster decisions this year. Harris was decent, and Ogbu as well. Foster is garbage. I don't understand why anyone defends this guy or why the FO is high on him. He sucks. He's too slow to be a consistently effective rusher, and he's too small to anchor a line. The only pro side to this is that Nevis is likely going to see a lot of playing time. I just don't get this one...
The defensive line in general I am quite disappointed in. Ogbu is going to wind up on the PS, which I'm glad for, but I really was pulling for John Chick this year. He was better than Hughes last year, and didn't make it. Once again, he outplayed him this year, and didn't make it. As I wrote in my other post, I kind of expected it simply because by now we should all be well aware that the Colts' so-called philosophy of "Best player on the field makes it" is a load of bollocks, and politics and draft status outweigh virtually everything.
Basically from last season to this season -
QB situation is worse (Manning's health is more in question)
RB situation is better (Spann/Evans/Carter are huge improvements over Hart/James)
WR situation is better (because Collie is back, and possibly Gonzo, and we have depth on the PS in gilreath)
TE situation is better (Clark is healed, extra depth behind him in McNeill means NO GIJON)
OL situation is better (Diem is inside, franchise LT acquired, no Pollak at RG, Reitz better at LG)
CB situation is worse (Hayden > any of Lacey/Johnson/Rucker/Thomas right now, but depth is somewhat better)
S situation is worse (Sanders is infinitely better than Bullitt if healthy, but depth is better for sure, but Sanders has stayed healthy. This becomes a wash if Sanders gets hurt)
LB situation is better (Give me Sims, Moten and Wheeler as a joker over Glenn, an overrated Session and Hagler any day)
DE situation is better (Technically this is a better group, though Chick would have been better than Brayton)
DT situation is better (Nevis is a huge upgrade over Muir, Ogbu/Harris would have been better than Foster, ST be damned, but Ogbu is first call at injury to the DT spot, good PS upgrade)
Overall, this team is definitely better than last year, and health will be a huge factor, if they can stay healthy, this team is instantly better even without the few upgrades. If Manning starts from week 1, and plays through the season, this team is going to be better than last year, although Texans and Jags have added more pieces, but our players returning from injury could outweigh it.
Manning is everything, if he's back and healthy, this team can win 12 games. Without him, we're drafting in the top 5.
EDIT* As for the Practice Squad spots (8 i think?) Here's who I have so far (unconfirmed, just my expectations):
I think it's very likely these 5 players make it: Ollie Ogbu, Jake Kirkpatrick, David Gilreath, John Chick, Tyson DeVree
There's also people saying that the Colts will soon trade for a backup guard, and that Spann will be assigned to the PS afterward, which would make 6 on the PS.
For the remaining 2 spots, 2 out of this group? Brandon King, Chris Brooks, Taj Smith (waived/injured is he still eligible?), Mike Hartline, Travis Baltz, Al Afalava (eligible?)