Shortly before training camp began, I made my first prediction of the 53-man roster for the Colts. From that list (made less than a month ago), four guys are already lost for the year, and another (Fili Moala) would have been on the list if he hadn't been injured already when I made the list. That's not good.
In fact, most of the changes I've made to my updated roster predictions have to do with injuries. There aren't a ton of changes, but enough to warrant an updated roster. After watching training camp (and one preseason game), here are my updated predictions for the Colts 53-man roster:
|QB (2)||Andrew Luck||Matt Hasselbeck||Chandler Harnish|
|RB (4)||Trent Richardson||Ahmad Bradshaw, Dan Herron, Zurlon Tipton||Davin Meggett, Phillip Tanner||Vick Ballard|
|FB (1)||Mario Harvey||Stanley Havili, Cameron White|
|WR (6)||T.Y. Hilton, Reggie Wayne||Hakeem Nicks, Donte Moncrief, Da'Rick Rogers, Griff Whalen||Ryan Lankford, Josh Lenz, Nu'Keese Richardson, Eric Thomas, Tony Washington|
|TE (4)||Dwayne Allen, Coby Fleener||Weslye Saunders, Jack Doyle||Erik Swoope|
|OL (9)||Anthony Castonzo (LT), Jack Mewhort (LG), Khaled Holmes (C), Hugh Thornton (RG), Gosder Cherilus (RT)||Xavier Nixon, Lance Louis, Joe Reitz, Jonotthan Harrison||Matt Hall, Ulrick John, Marcus Hall, Josh Walker, Thomas Austin, FN Lutz||Donald Thomas|
|DL (5)||Cory Redding (DE), Josh Chapman (NT), Arthur Jones (DE)||Ricky Jean Francois, Montori Hughes||Gannon Conway, Tyler Hoover, Nnamdi Obukwelu, Brandon McKinney, Zach Kerr||Fili Moala, Jeris Pendleton|
|OLB (4)||Bjoern Werner, Erik Walden, [Robert Mathis after suspension]||Jonathan Newsome, Andy Studebaker||Cam Johnson, Phillip Hunt, Jonathon Sharpe||Daniel Adongo, Aaron Morgan|
|ILB (5)||Jerrell Freeman, D'Qwell Jackson||Josh McNary, Henoc Muamba, Kelvin Sheppard||Shawn Loiseau, Andrew Jackson|
|CB (5)||Vontae Davis, Greg Toler||Darius Butler, Josh Gordy, Loucheiz Purifoy||Johnny Adams, Marcus Burley, Qua Cox, Kameron Jackson, Sheldon Price|
|S (5)||LaRon Landry, Mike Adams||Delano Howell, Colt Anderson, Sergio Brown||David Sims, Dewey McDonald|
|ST (3)||Adam Vinatieri (K), Pat McAfee (P), Matt Overton (LS)||Cody Parkey (K)|
You might have noticed a few changes from my pre-camp predictions, so I'll note every one of them and explain my reasoning below, as well as give some thoughts on a few other decisions:
- Obviously, Vick Ballard will not be making this year's 53-man roster because he is headed to IR. I had him making my pre-camp roster, as did everyone else who made a prediction. Initially, I had the Colts keeping just three backs (Trent Richardson, Ballard, and Ahmad Bradshaw) plus one fullback, but now I have the Colts keeping four running backs and one fullback. With the loss of a player like Ballard, the continued uncertainty (yet cautious hope) surrounding Richardson, and the looming questions about Bradshaw's health, the Colts aren't nearly as deep at running back as one would like. I think both Dan Herron (who starred in the first preseason game) and undrafted rookie Zurlon Tipton will make the team, and I really like what both of them bring as backup running backs.
- I'm taking a flier on the fullback position, but I changed it up a bit. We've yet to see Stanley Havili practice as he's on the PUP list, and I'm beginning to wonder if he might begin the regular season on the PUP list (I don't have any inside info here, just speculation). If that happens, then this discussion is moot anyway, but I now have Mario Harvey supplanting Havili as the team's lone fullback. A big reason for this is that Harvey has been practicing and Havili hasn't, but at the same time I was considering having Harvey make the roster over Havili back when camp began. Harvey is a much more traditional blocking fullback than Havili, and with the abundance of receiving weapons the Colts have, they don't need a receiving fullback. With Harvey, it gives the Colts flexibility to not have to put him in every play, let Dwayne Allen fill the role at times, yet still use him when they want to give Richardson some added help. To me, it makes sense to keep Harvey. We'll see if the Colts feel the same way.
- Shortly after I made my pre-camp predictions, I was certain I had gotten at least one wrong. To be honest, I'm not sure what I was thinking when I had Eric Swoope making the team. I just was going out on a limb, I guess. I have been very impressed with Swoope in camp, but as was to be expected, he still has work to do. He's a prime practice squad candidate and has shown potential, but he's not ready for the 53-man roster yet. I had Jack Doyle and Eric Swoope before camp began, but now I've replaced Swoope with Weslye Saunders. In fact, I think if the Colts only kept three tight ends (which I debated doing here) that Saunders would probably be ahead of Doyle. As it is, however, I have both of them making it and Swoope starting off on the practice squad.
- Donald Thomas is out for the season with a torn quad and on IR, so he obviously isn't making the roster. Jack Mewhort has stepped up to fill his starting spot, but who will fill his spot on the roster? I think it'll be a guy who plays center, Jonotthan Harrison. An undrafted free agent out of Florida, Harrison's spot is much more secured now after Khaled Holmes was injured in the first preseason game, and it's very clear that the Colts really like Harrison. He's a guy who I've liked since the Colts signed him and a guy who has potential, but who needs work. I now think he'll be making the roster to provide depth for Holmes, which is much needed. I almost had him making the roster in my pre-camp predictions, and now I think he stands a very, very good chance.
- Another player out for the season on IR is Jeris Pendleton. The defensive line now has a spot open on the bench, and I've actually left that spot open. I think either Brandon McKinney or Zach Kerr could step up and take the spot easily, but they have to show it. I was very, very close to putting Kerr on this roster, but I opted to use the spot elsewhere and leave the Colts with just five defensive linemen. This might sound risky and there are certainly players there who could earn a spot, but for now I've left the Colts with five defensive linemen. This spot is still very much up for grabs, however.
- If you haven't sensed a theme already, a lot of the changes on this roster are due to injury. Another guy I had on the pre-camp roster was Daniel Adongo, but he's also on IR and out for the year. Let me first explain why I put Adongo on it pre-camp - the team really likes him and are monitoring his continued progress. He was looking much, much better on defense and was playing a lot on special teams in camp, so there was certainly a chance. I have him being replaced with another guy who will play primarily special teams, Andy Studebaker. He was a standout on the special teams unit last year, and he's shown enough as a linebacker in camp to warrant the spot, especially considering his play elsewhere. The coaching staff has raved about him, he had a good preseason opener, he has seen increased playing time with the defense in practices, he is a capable depth guy, and he's a fantastic special teams player.
- Rookie Andrew Jackson missed much of camp with an injury. You hate to see it, but that might have cost him a roster spot - at least on my roster it did. I think he'll start out on the practice squad and continue to get work there, but in the meantime, I think Kelvin Sheppard might make the team as a backup inside linebacker. I'm not a huge fan of Sheppard personally, but the team likes him and he has been seeing good reps in camp with other guys at the position out. I'm doing my predictions, not my preferences, so I'm putting Sheppard on the roster as a depth inside linebacker.
- Lastly, the final change I made doesn't have anything to do with injury and is just a swapping of undrafted corners. I had heard continual great things out of offseason work about undrafted corner Qua Cox, and the team loved him. In camp, he's not shown a whole lot and has kind of gotten buried behind other guys. On the other hand, Loucheiz Purifoy, a very talented undrafted corner out of Florida, has been very impressive in training camp and as of right now looks pretty entrenched in the number five cornerback spot. There's still things to be figured out, but right now Purifoy is clearly the number five corner while Qua Cox has just been buried behind other guys.
- It's not a change, but I'll also list those guys who I was very close to putting on the roster, and the two big ones were defensive lineman Zach Kerr and outside linebacker Cam Johnson. I wouldn't be surprised at all if one or both of them end up making the team.