Today the "final" cutdown to 53 players was due, and the Colts' made 22 moves to get down to the required limit. I put the word final in quotation marks because, really, this roster isn't final yet. There will be other moves in the next few days, as the Colts (and other teams) take a look at the players who were cut and bring some of them in on their roster (a possibilty for the Colts is a guy like guard Danny Watkins, who was released by the Eagles today. He was a first round guard in 2011, Ryan Grigson spent many years with the Eagles, and the Colts need a guard. Makes sense, right?)
But for the time being, let's digest the Colts moves that they already did make and I'll share some observations on it (sorry this was late, spent the day in South Bend for the Notre Dame season opener - GO IRISH!)
OLB Daniel Adongo - A guy who really excited fans with his athleticism after being signed as a raw, former rugby player prospect, Daniel Adongo hardly saw the field at all in either training camp or preseason. He spent the entire time learning about American football and was never going to really make the roster. He is a real candidate for the practice squad, however, as the Colts still view him as a project player and knew he was going to take a lot of work. Keep an eye out for him to land on the practice squad.
S Larry Asante - After a strong final two preseason games to go along with a good camp, many people wondered if Asante would end up making the roster. He didn't. My guess is that he was probably one of the harder cuts to make, but the fact of the matter is that the Colts still kept five safeties and it's just ridiculous to keep six. Joe Lefeged and Sergio Brown were kept largely because they are the team's two gunners on special teams, so Asante always had an uphill climb to make the roster.
C Thomas Austin - Austin was never going to make the roster. Some were surprised he stuck around longer than former Purdue center Rick Schmeig did, but really, neither had a shot at making the roster unless Khaled Holmes was going to miss significant time. He played in the final preseason game, confirming what we all already knew: that Thomas Austin was going to be cut.
CB Marshay Green - One of the few guys who I had on my final 53-man roster projection who didn't make the team, I thought that Marshay Green stood a really good chance after an impressive preseason. I thought for sure he was at least the team's fifth best cornerback, but apparently the team disagreed and kept Josh Gordy instead. I'll admit that the move is questionable to me, as I really liked what I saw from Green this preseason.
DE Lawrence Guy - A guy who was an underdog sleeper candidate for the roster, I just couldn't find a way to keep him around, even though I think he's a decent player and think the Colts liked him. The Colts couldn't find a way either, and they just couldn't keep a decent player like Guy around. There were too many other defensive linemen ahead of him.
QB Chandler Harnish - Some people tried to tell me the Colts would keep Harnish on the 53-man roster, but I never bought it. He was terrible in training camp and he was terrible in preseason. I still think he has potential, but there was no way he was going to end up on the final roster. He'll go to the practice squad - that is, unless someone signs him. A lot of fans were scared about that, but really, he's replaceable if he's signed away from the Colts' practice squad.
FB Robert Hughes - Robert Hughes played solid this preseason, but he was brought in after Dan Moore's season-ending injury and was always clearly behind Stanley Havili at fullback. Some wondered whether they would keep two fullbacks, but the general consensus was always that it would be one. And that's exactly what it turned out to be.
OT Ben Ijalana - None of the cuts today has generated more discussion than this one. Why? Because Ben Ijalana, the team's second round pick in 2011, has been injured and was finally healthy this year yet didn't get much playing time in preseason. People like his potential and think he should have stayed. Let me just say that I like his potential too, and I think the Colts do too. The thing is, I think the team's plan all along was to help him improve as much as possible this camp and help get him up to speed, place him on the practice squad, and then give him another, more legitimate shot next year. Of course, that theory all gets ruined if he isn't signed to the practice squad, but I think he will be. The theory also possibly explains why the Colts didn't play Ijalana as much this preseason, as they realize he is talented and was playing well and didn't want teams to have as much film on Ijalana to make a decision on whether or not to sign him away. I agree, not the best thing to do, but it may very well have factored into the coaches' thinking.
TE Dominique Jones - One of the other sleeper candidates, I thought Jones stood a real shot to make the roster. He played very well in training camp and in preseason, and considering the fact that both Dwayne Allen and Coby Fleener are recovering from injuries, I wondered if that would make Jones necessary enough. I guess not, and although he's not on the 53-man roster right now, expect him to be the first one the Colts call if one of their tight ends gets hurt.
WR Jeremy Kelley - A tall receiver with potential is still raw and, like Ijalana, didn't get as many opportunities this preseason as many thought he would. He wasn't too impressive in camp, either, so this cut makes sense. Still, his potential and talent makes him an interesting guy to keep an eye on for the practice squad.
LB Josh McNary - I really liked what I saw out of Josh McNary during camp, but he was injured just before the first preseason game and never saw the field after that. If he had played in the games, I really think he would have had a good shot at making the team, but there was no way he was making it after missing every game. A week ago he was placed on the reserve-military list, and today he was released. Keep an eye out for him for the practice squad too.
DT Drake Nevis - Probably the most talented of all the cuts right now, Drake Nevis puzzled people the most after they saw his name on the press release. He is a talented lineman, but he's more suited for a 4-3 defense and Ricardo Matthews, who the team kept instead, is more versatile (playing two lineman spots rather than one). Still, Nevis' skill was something I thought would cause the team to keep him, and his production in the preseason was something the Colts could certainly use from the bench. He will be picked up soon by someone.
CB Sheldon Price - Entering training camp I had Price on my 53-man roster, because I thought he had a lot of potential but was raw. I thought he was a project player of sorts who would make it and continue to improve. But he was terrible in preseason. Terrible. No surprise whatsoever that he was cut. None.
WR Jabin Sambrano - The most impressive of the "other" receivers (those outside Reggie Wayne, Darrius Heyward-Bey, T.Y. Hilton, Griff Whalen, and LaVon Brazill), Sambrano always faced tough odds to make the roster too. Especially after the team traded for David Reed from the Ravens, the writing was on the wall for Sambrano.
WR Lanear Sampson - If the writing was on the wall for Sambrano, it most certainly was for Sampson. He was terrible. I thought he was probably the worst player overall that I saw in training camp and preseason. He never stood a chance, and I'm honestly surprised he lasted to the final cuts.
LB Monte Simmons - Simmons was originally released back at the beginning of August to make room for Robert Hughes, then was signed again shortly after, and now he was released again. He played ok, but never stood a great shot to make the team.
T Bradley Sowell - This was always an interesting one, as Bradley Sowell was used by the Colts this year in more ways than just as a lineman. He was used as an extra tight end and eligible receiver frequently in camp and was a guy who people wondered if he would make it as the final lineman for that reason. But no, his play on the line couldn't mask it.
NT Martin Tevaseu - I like Tevaseu and liked him last year too, but sitting behind Aubrayo Franklin and Josh Chapman (and before he got injured, Brandon McKinney too), Tevaseu was always the odd man out and needed to have a spectacular preseason to make the roster. He didn't so this one comes as no surprise.
OT Lee Ziemba - No surprise on this one, either, as Lee Ziemba didn't look good this preseason. Not surprised he got cut, and you shouldn't be either.
OT Emmett Cleary - This appears to me to be your classic "stashing a guy on injured reserve" move. Yeah, Cleary was injured (was he really?) but it didn't sound to be that serious. He winds up on injured reserve, where he can still be around the team and still continue to learn and be involved. For a guy who was likely going to be cut, that's a very good option. Many people saw this one coming, too.
LB Shawn Loiseau - Loiseau didn't look good this preseason. He didn't really have a chance to make the roster.
CB Daxton Swanson - See Cleary, Emmett. A very similar situation, I think. Swanson wasn't going to make the roster but the Colts still wanted to keep him, so they're going to stash him on IR this year. That's fine with me.
* If these players clear waivers, they will revert to the Colts Injured Reserve list.