Training camp is over. The first, second, and third preseason games are over. All that remains is one last preseason game this Thursday night and then it's time to start preparing for the regular season. Of course, before that final preseason game comes roster cuts.
The first cutdown, which is from 90 players to 75, is due this Tuesday by 4:00 p.m. ET. The second cutdown will then be due by Saturday at 4 p.m., after the fourth preseason game is over. Before training camp began I took a shot at predicting the Colts' 53-man roster, and with the first round of cuts looming, now is a good time to revisit that. You'll notice that much of the prediction stayed the same, but there are some changes that you might notice. So here it is: my second attempt at predicting the Colts' 53-man roster:
Quarterbacks (2): Andrew Luck, Matt Hasselbeck
Nothing to see here. Even though Hasselbeck hasn't had a good preseason, he's still been much better than Bryan Bennett, and even if that wasn't the case it wouldn't matter much. It's Luck's starting spot and it's Hasselbeck's backup spot. That's not really up for debate.
Running Backs (4): Frank Gore, Boom Herron, Josh Robinson, Tyler Varga
I think it's pretty clear that Gore, Herron, and Robinson will all make the roster. The fourth running back job is the one really up for grabs. Zurlon Tipton might warrant a look, but he hasn't done much in preseason and hasn't seen many chances since an underwhelming opener. Vick Ballard would be a guy to put here, but he just hasn't been able to stay on the field (he's tweaked both hamstrings now and has just two carries). That leaves Varga, who finally got some opportunities on Saturday night and made the most of them, showing great effort. He's a guy you like to have on your team as a depth guy and special teams player, and so he sneaks on as the fourth running back.
Wide Receivers (6): T.Y. Hilton, Andre Johnson, Donte Moncrief, Phillip Dorsett, Duron Carter, Griff Whalen
The first four at this position are locks. There's no debate about that. Duron Carter was a star in camp but hasn't done a whole lot in preseason, but he still seems to be very likely to make the roster. Perhaps the team will only keep five wide receivers and that would be it, but I think they will keep six - both due to their passing offense and the depth of the position. Several guys, like Vincent Brown and Quan Bray, are competing for the spot, but I think the sixth receiver spot has to go to Whalen at this point. He again was a standout in training camp and made a couple of nice plays on Saturday night. With Brown and Bray doing nothing to step up, a familiar and reliable player like Whalen would make sense as the sixth wideout.
Tight Ends (3): Dwayne Allen, Coby Fleener, Jack Doyle
Nothing has changed here. Sean McGrath had a strong camp but has been virtually invisible in the preseason. Regardless, nobody has been impressive enough to convince the Colts to keep four tight ends, so I think it will remain as just three - and a good trio at that, with Allen, Fleener, and Doyle.
Offensive Line (9): Anthony Castonzo, Lance Louis, Khaled Holmes, Todd Herremans, Jack Mewhort, Joe Reitz, Jonotthan Harrison, David Arkin, Hugh Thornton
Not much should surprise here. The starting five are clearly going to make the team, as are important backups Joe Reitz and Jonotthan Harrison. Hugh Thornton is still injured, but he will still make the team. David Arkin has been playing with the second team a lot and should be in line for one of the depth spots. There are a lot of variables at this position, however - most prominently regarding the status of Thornton. If he's not healthy, the Colts might have to keep an extra lineman around to make up for it. Many will want to see Donald Thomas on this list, but we have yet to see him on the field and he will face a very tough task convincing the Colts that he's worth keeping around (and worth paying instead of cutting him and saving the money). Denzelle Good has done some good things in preseason, but he seems very much like a developmental player who will stick around on the practice squad.
Defensive Line (7): Kendall Langford, Josh Chapman, Arthur Jones, Montori Hughes, David Parry, Zach Kerr, Henry Anderson
Nothing has changed here either. Guys like Earl Okine and Kelcy Quarles have done some good things in the preseason, but they haven't done nearly enough to supplant any of the seven I have making the team. I don't think it's much of a decision at this point. The only variable would be if Jones has to miss a significant period of time with his ankle injury (we should find out more details today). Then, perhaps the Colts would consider keeping someone else to help fill in.
Outside Linebackers (5): Robert Mathis, Erik Walden, Trent Cole, Jonathan Newsome, Bjoern Werner
Again, this position is pretty straightforward. Mathis, Walden, Cole, and Newsome all seem to be locks to make the roster, and Werner stood a pretty good chance all along too. Considering the fact that nobody has really stepped up among the backup outside linebackers, that seems to be the case.
Inside Linebackers (5): Jerrell Freeman, D'Qwell Jackson, Nate Irving, Junior Sylvestre, Amarlo Herrera
I like Henoc Muamba at inside linebacker, but I'm not sure how great of a chance he stands at this point to make the roster. I'd like to see him make it, but I think that Junior Sylvestre and Amarlo Herrera both stand a better chance at this point. Sylvestre has been great in preseason, and with the backup inside linebacker job up in the air, I think he earns a spot. Amarlo Herrera hasn't been nearly as good, but defensive coordinator Greg Manusky trusts him with the calls and to run the defense, and he's a guy who could stick around. Nate Irving still hasn't returned fully from his injury, and so I think the Colts would be wise to keep five inside linebackers - at least until Irving gets back on the field.
Cornerbacks (5): Vontae Davis, Greg Toler, Darius Butler, D'Joun Smith, Jalil Brown
This position hasn't changed either - all that has happened is Jalil Brown made his chances of making the roster go up a lot after a very impressive camp and after a nice game on Saturday night. Sheldon Price has done a pretty good job this preseason and could sneak on the team if Greg Toler is still out and might miss some time, but I think Brown earns the number five spot over him.
Safeties (4): Mike Adams, Dwight Lowery, Clayton Geathers, Colt Anderson
The top three safeties will make the team - Adams, Lowery, and Geathers. After that, however, there are players competing for a spot, and it likely will come down a lot to special teams. Colt Anderson is the veteran who the team re-signed this offseason and who has shown he can contribute on special teams, which is why I still give him the edge here for the fourth safety spot.
Special Teams (3): Pat McAfee, Adam Vinatieri, Matt Overton
No question here. In fact, there's no one else on the team that even is competing with them. The fourth down army is absolutely secure in their spot on the roster.