Depth Chart -
WR - Reggie Wayne, Marvin Harrison, Anthony Gonzalez, Roy Hall, Devin Aromashodu, Pierre Garcon *BUBBLE Onrea Jones
TE - Dallas Clark, Gijon Robinson, Jacob Tamme *BUBBLE Tom Santi
RB - Joseph Addai, Dominic Rhodes, Mike Hart *BUBBLE Chad Simpson
QB - Peyton Manning, Jim Sorgi *BUBBLE Jared Lorenzen
LT - Tony Ugoh, Michael Toudouze
LG - Ryan Lilja, Jamey Richard
C - Jeff Saturday, Steve Justice
RG - Mike Pollak, Charlie Johnson
RT - Ryan Diem, Dan Federkiel
RE - Dwight Freeney, Marcus Howard, Josh Thomas *BUBBLE Jeff Charleston
LE - Robert Mathis, Curtis Johnson
LT - Raheem Brock, Keyunta Dawson
RT - Ed Johnson, Joe Bradley, Darrell Reid *BUBBLE Eric Foster
SAM - Clint Session, Tyjuan Hagler
MIKE - Gary Brackett, Philip Wheeler
WILL - Freddie Keiaho, Kyle Shotwell *BUBBLE Ramon Guzman, Jordan Senn
CB - Marlin Jackson, Kelvin Hayden, Dante Hughes, Keiwan Ratliff, T.J. Rushing *BUBBLE Brandon Foster
FS - Bob Sanders, Matt Giordano
SS - Antoine Bethea, Brannon Condren *BUBBLE Jamie Silva
K - Adam Vinatieri
P - Hunter Smith *BUBBLE Adam Crossett
LS - Justin Snow
This depth chart has 52 players penciled in with seven players on the "BUBBLE," so to speak. In terms of some players I've made a case below. Having a conversation on some tough decisions might be good to keep realistic expectations of who we can expect to keep and a group of guys we'd like on the roster who won't fit.
Wide Receiver -
Roy Hall/Devin Aromashodu/Onrea Jones - At this point I have Jones on the BUBBLE based upon a few things. First, Pierre Garcon will make the roster because he brings a lot of potential as a receiver (as much or more as Hall last year) and because he brings another talent in returning kicks and punts which is nice to have in case of injury or for further development during the season. Second, some have suggested that Jones should take a spot from Hall or Aromashodu for different reasons... I will discuss my case for each Hall and Aromashodu and consider why Jones should take a spot and from who.
Hall - Unfortunately, Hall's hammy injury came at a bad time... just as he was having an opportunity to show fans and coaches just how much he has improved over the off season in actual (so to speak) competition. In the first game he displayed much better hands and did well given the circumstances (catching Manning passes v. back-ups)... including the best catch of the game where he hauled in a sideline catch and kept both feet in bounds. What he brings to the table with his size and speed has always been something that fans/coaches get excited about. If he hammy injury is minor and will heal quickly... I don't see him not making the roster. He has size, speed, a new pair of hands and has developed his route running quickly. Add to that his special teams value and it is hard to cut Hall.
Aromashodu - I still think Aroma's contributions last year are underappreciated by many on the forums. Given minimal time to learn the offense or opportunity to develop timing with Manning, Aroma caught everything within reach and served as a legitimate option at WR with our starters on the mend. Over the offseason he's had the time to develop a greater familiarity with the offense and surely will look much sharper when/if called upon as a back-up. He fits right into the size/speed mold of receivers the Colts like to keep and does have in-game regular season experience as a notch in his belt.
Onrea Jones - If Jones is going to make the roster he'll have to prove himself over Aromashodu. Aroma does not bring value to the team in any way outside of as a back-up WR. Accordingly, his spot is more vulnerable than Hall/Garcon at this point.
Jones v. Aromashodu - In terms of size, Aroma has a 1 inch advantage. Weight is listed with Aroma 2 lbs. lighter. Speed is listed almost dead even with both in the 4.4-4.5 second 40 yard range. Both have displayed good hands. After the catch, I'd say Jones has shown a bit more ability or seems a bit more dangerous after the catch. Again, experience edge goes to Aroma. So... who knows? I could be off entirely but it seems like this is where the real competition is at WR for the last roster spot.
Tight End -
Robinson/Tamme/Santi - At this point I would say Santi is on the "BUBBLE." After all, he's not seen any time on the field during preseason games and in his absence, both Tamme and Robinson have impressed fans and coaches. I don't see a scenario, despite Keller's recent column, where we don't keep 3 TEs. Of all the TEs, I really think Robinson has made the best case for a roster spot. Let's face it, he brings the most value to the team in terms of size, blocking ability, potential use at FB, and most well-rounded talent with good hands to go with good speed for his size. If/when we feel we need to run two TE, unless Tamme shows real blocking ability before the beginning of the regular season, Robinson makes more sense to be the other bookend.
Tamme/Santi - While there is a possibility that we keep 4 at either RB or TE, giving Santi some "chance" to make the roster and eliminate the need to make a choice here... it seems unlikely considering the chance of carrying 3 QBs is real at this point and how that would eliminate our ability to carry four at either position possibly or force us to "run light" at another position. Tamme showed good hands, speed, and route running ability when given the opportunity against Carolina. He does look similar to a rookie Dallas Clark. So, as a receiving option at TE, Tamme has proven real potential.
Where does Santi fit in? The problem is - Robinson brings the most value at this point which makes his position tougher to take. Tamme has shown promise as a receiving option at TE, and has a reputation for it from his college career. Santi seems more suited to compete for Robinson's spot, in terms of size and other value. Santi has played some FB, Santi is better known for blocking than Tamme, Santi also has shown good hands and the ability to be used in the passing game when called on. But Santi, with no preseason exposure, is probably not going to make the roster because Robinson has the spot he's best suited to make a play for and he doesn't match up well to compete with Tamme in the passing game.
Running Back -
Chad Simpson - This kid is really fast and definitely has the potential of providing that "change of pace" most NFL teams like to have in their RB rotations. He reminds me of a Darren Sproles. Having said that, it would be a real help for Simpson if he had a chance to show special teams return potential. To this point he has not had that opportunity. He has shown real talent, and because it is likely that Hart will replace Rhodes at least by next season as the number 2 back... Simpson would be a great back to keep on the team and develop as the 3 back. He will likely not stick on the PS or last long on waivers. I don't see Clifton Dawson as an issue not because I disrespect his abilities but because Hart brings more to the table in his range of abilities and Simpson brings something to the table he does not. As a result, the advantage is with Simpson if I'm making the calls.
Sorgi/Lorenzen/Gray - In the HoF game Quinn Gray looked like he has real potential, displaying a strong arm, showing an ability to make plays happen downfield when the pocket collapses and the mobility to run with the ball if defenses try to man up and take away the passing game. However, his biggest fault, to this point, has seemed his overall intelligence in terms of the decisions he makes when he doesn't have to scramble and can sit in the pocket with time. That is a pretty important fault considering it is likely that most of the time, when the first team offensive line is on the field, there will be pretty good coverage and our QB will spend most of his time in the pocket. Lorenzen, on the other hand, does bring the mobility (to the surprise of most), and also brings a strong arm but has displayed more comfort in the pocket. Lorenzen is more "mistake-prone" or "bad-decision" prone when he's really under pressure and must get rid of the ball quickly. Lorenzen has other issues with his throwing style resulting in blocked passes and the like but of the two, pocket presence and ability to make good decisions with the ball from the pocket... the advantage goes to Lorenzen.
Sorgi/Lorenzen - Sorgi holds on to the ball too long, telegraphs his passes by staring at his intended targets, has little mobility, does not have a strong pocket presence and has a weak arm. Almost every bit of those physical quarterback traits and I say, advantage to Lorenzen. However, Sorgi knows the Colts offense better than Lorenzen/Gray could hope to at this point. If Manning stays healthy once he returns from his knee rehab Sorgi would probably provide more value on the sidelines with a clipboard because of all the time he's spent developing a relationship with Manning and Moore, and developing a familiarity with our offense and opposing defenses. The deciding factor, it would seem, is just how smart is Lorenzen? If Lorenzen is smart and if he works as had as Sorgi would in the film room before each game and really show the ability to develop a good relationship with Peyton Manning... he can make the case to take the spot outright. Otherwise, it's a matter of money and which value is more important... a better quarterback physically if/when called upon for Manning or a better quarterback mentally who offers more help form the sidelines... where he will likely spend most of his time anyway. Tough call.
Defensive End -
Thomas/Charleston - Thomas has more experience than Charleston, Charleston is faster than Thomas. Thomas has shown the ability to shut down the run more from the DE position than our other DEs IN THE PAST, except for maybe Freeney but has not shown the ability as a pass rusher as our other options. Charleston gets the nod if we just want a pure pass rushing option at DE... Thomas if we're more concerned about facing run centered offenses. At this point I see Thomas getting the nod based on the run defending he has shown in the past, particularly if we're really concerned about our interior DL stopping the run against teams on our schedule who will likely choose to run the ball a lot.
Defensive Tackle -
Bradley/Foster - I've not yet seen Foster do anything spectacular. The most impressive "move" I've seen from him was in the HoF game when he attempted a spin move to generate pressure on the QB... but was unforunately denied by the opposing offensive line. Our biggest concern at DT seems to be a lack of "bulk" behind Ed Johnson, assuming Raheem Brock moves over (I'm still extremely confident that he will). Accordingly, Foster doesn't seem to be known as "bulk" as much as a potential back-up for Brock/Dawson. Joe Bradley is the only defensive tackle I see on the team right now who brings that kind of bulk at all. I don't know if he has any ability or not but Foster/Ferrell haven't done much to standout.
Shotwell/Senn/Guzman/Wheeler - With the injuries at LB - Hagler/Wheeler missing significant time. There is a bit of competition brewing for who takes the roster spots. Wheeler is touted as having amazing potential and was slated to potentially be Brackett's primary back-up. Unfortunately, we've had no opportunity to see Wheeler in a game to see if he is effective or not. And... we will not have an opportunity to do so for some time to come. Keeping Wheeler is likely not an option but with the injury to Hagler... it makes it tough for the team to secure LB depth. So if we can a good option to stash Wheeler on the IR, or some other way, it might be a good idea. Unless someone has heard something I have not. Guzman really hasn't impressed me on defense and hasn't done a whole lot on ST either, other than downing fumble recovering punt returners. Accordingly, it seems like Senn/Shotwell have a shot at breaking the roster. When Hagler returns it would seem our SAM position will be set. From what I've seen Shotwell, as long as he can prove pass defending ability, can back-up the MIKE. Senn, who seems to be in on every play, no matter where it is on the field, seems like a potential back-up at the WILL and if he really has shown ST ability... could take that spot. Of course, that takes Wheeler and Guzman out of the picture. How that can happen... I don't know. Updates on Wheeler would be nice... but I say one of Senn/Shotwell bring more value to the team than Guzman thus far.
Jennings/Ratliff/Foster - With TJ Rushing almost assured a spot on the team because he's been proving himself as a viable return man... one more CB spot is up for grabs if Hughes is a lock as our nickelback. Jennings has proven to be a bit out of control when we've seen him in the regular season and only saw that time because rookie Hughes went down for the season with an injury. Some thought Jennings showed some improvement in camp and possibly in the HoF game but I really don't see him doing much more than he has or improving a great deal given how long he's had time to work with the team and develop to this point. On the other hand, Ratliff and Foster both seem to bring the kind of coverage ability we were looking for in Jennings. Ratliff getting the pick against Carolina and sticking with his assignments very well, was impressive. Foster, also called upon to stick tight to his assignments did a very good job of doing so, so good in fact that he had a bogus passing interference call against him when he made a great play on the ball on a pass downfield. Either way, I think the potential/ability showed by either young CB bring more value than messing with Jennings again.
Condren/Silva - Brannon Condren is speedy and a head hunter, hitting hard, doing the kinds of things we expect to see out of the other players who fill out our S rotation. He has been all over the place making plays this season and, at least in practice, seems to have an eye for making plays on the ball in the air as well. Silva is a different kind of player in that he isn't notoriously speedy and possibly is less likely to be a ballhawk but has a "gamer" football intelligence and awareness about him which puts him in a place to make plays and make a difference on a pretty regular basis. Condren has an experience and system familiarity edge but it seems like Silva has the tools to worthy of a roster spot. It just seems unlikely he'll have the chance and will go to another team... who knows.
Smith/Crossett - Let's be real here. Hunter Smith has been an above average Punter in the league for some time now but never has been on of the "best" punters in the league... so to speak. He also have been our holder for FGs, and has almost always done a great job in that role as well. However, Adam Crossett is a kicking extraordinaire... a guy who can boot kickoffs into the endzone for touch backs, kick field goals, and punt within 4 or 5 yards of Smith's "long punt" for the day... is something to consider. To have a guy on the team who can punt as well or nearly as well as Smith but also can back-up Vinatieri if necessary or even just kickoff once in awhile late in the season to keep Vinatieri's leg fresh for the post-season is pretty tempting. Can he hold on FG attempts for V if necessary? Who would hold for him if he was kicking a FG? Something to think about in my opinion. Although I doubt it'd ever happen it could save us money and bring us more overall value. Who knows?
Final Thoughts -
If Morris or McFarland come in the whole DT/LB situation gets mixed up again, of course... but until then this is the best I can come up with.