Ryan Grigson has become the consummate prospector of talent. He kneels daily by the constant stream of players cut and cast off, panning and sifting for untapped talent to add to the wealth of the Indianapolis Colts. Players that dangle on the back end of rosters, cuts that just did not fit or were last in a very talented pool, aged veterans, young practice squad dreamers, and big fish from small leagues all go into the strainer with the hope that a nugget will be discovered. Each day we inch closer to the start of the season while Grigson has been diligently mining away through game tape from the crack of dawn to the midnight hour.
Fringe players wait anxiously with pounding hearts and suitcases packed for that phone call that will steer their destiny. Each tryout, each opportunity is to be treated like gold. Some youthful players will build a resume on special teams talent in the hope that getting a foot in the door will secure a long term paycheck while veterans, cut in lieu of cheaper youth with highly projected upsides, will patiently wait for the request for their services when an injury depletes the ranks.
General managers across the league will scramble this week, and perhaps for the first few games, to add depth to key positions. Organizations will gamble on the ever present cut and stash nature of the practice squads. If that diamond in the rough can just make it past the waiver wire then they can be hidden on a practice squad or shelved for the year on the Injured Reserve list. Vested players will be released to nullify an engorged contract only to be re-signed at a more pedestrian wage. Some will start the season on the Physically Unable to Perform list or Non-Football Injury list delaying the management decisions for six to eight weeks.
It is all a game, mind you, one that we love, but still, a game. So, let the fireworks begin as Grigson begins his quest for diamonds and gold and we will examine some of these crazy juggling acts right here in Indy. This post will examine briefly some of the roster decisions this organization has made thus far this week and attempt to make a bit of sense in the transactions.
First, the notable cuts come to mind. Boyett was a no brainer. If you screw up, shut up, take it like a man and for God's sake, do not resist. There is no good way to get thrown in the clink but playing the sporting star card is the last thing you should do. It is a shame, really. Boyett had potential for a bargain price. When he is healthy next year, some team will likely get a steal of a deal.
Dominique Jones, Kerwynn Williams, Justice Cunningham, Josh McNary, and Sheldon Price all landed on the practice squad with Jones making the leap back up to a roster spot. These appear to be solid depth and development pickups. Daniel Adongo also made the squad but I foresee his role as purely developmental as it is highly unlikely he will see the field at all even if a plague of injuries besets the team. Each player represents the final cut from positions of depth and quality.
My mind saw Ijalana making the practice squad as a deep backup, but he failed to clear the waiver wire. He looked solid when he had time in the games but it seemed as if the coaches were trying to hide him from further inspection. Well, if that was the plan, it was an epic fail. I would not be surprised at all if Grigson tries to upgrade the offensive line practice squad guy, represented now by Thomas Austin. I also think Harnish is less than secure on the practice squad especially after his unimpressive preseason.
The acquisitions of Doyle at TE and Cam Johnson at the OLB/ILB spot illustrates how trades and pickups can seemingly fill targeted needs. Doyle is a bruiser and Johnson is by all accounts, a younger version of Rayford. This brings up the trade of Caesar to Dallas and the implication of that trade. With Johnson and Rayford on the roster it was likely one or the other would sit inactive for most games. Grigson essentially ended up with a swap of Rayford for Johnson in the end if the conditions are met in Dallas and we get a seventh rounder for Rayford having lost one for Johnson.
The other curious move was grabbing Doyle. The film and what not must support his skill set over that of Cunningham. I think Cunningham is now Doyle's backup and he is fortunate to have ended up on the practice squad. Jones must have some magic in the back pocket because we are going on two seasons now that he has charmed his way off and onto the roster. I see his role as the all purpose substitute covering Allen, Fleener, and Havili at the FB spot. He seems to have what it takes to do the job if needed.
Monte Simmons at LB and Asante at the S position get the close but no cigar awards. Safety is a position of depth if LeFeged returns healthy. The LB group has enough workable parts that it too could be a position of strength. The glaring weaknesses might be in the WRs and the OL. Ok, we KNOW there are some issues with the OL, but we just won't see how bad the damage is until they take the field week in and week out. Depth is an issue at WR and as much as I love the Griffer, he looks just plain average with the #1s out on the turf. I never thought I'd say it, but LaVon Brazil cannot come back soon enough. But I still pull for ya, Griff.
This brings me to the snatching of Buffalo's diamond in the rough that proved, at least to them, too difficult to polish, Da'Rick Rogers. I have a feeling this is a short stay for him. The reports that he had trouble with the playbook side of things concerns me. I'm guessing they brought him in for a test drive. He has a horrendous climb uphill to get a roster spot, again, barring catastrophic injuries at the WR position and in Pep Hamilton's complicated offense, well, he'd be lost. I've been wrong before, but it seemed like Buffalo really needed depth talent. They cut him and that says a lot in a nutshell.
I predict only that Grigson will continue to pan for talent without the fear of change that haunted the Polian regime. Ok, we tried it his way for a decade or more and it mostly worked. But Polian only found the pot at the end of the rainbow twice, and we walked away with the gold just once. Here is hoping Grigson, et al, can find the gold to bring home the gold.