The preseason is now officially over, with the Indianapolis Colts losing to the Cincinnati Bengals 9-6 in the preseason finale last night. Next up is the final roster cutdown from 75 players to 53, which must happen between now and Saturday at 4:00 p.m. ET.
Of course, there's another reality that we must mention, and it's this: some players who initially make the 53-man roster will be cut just a day later when the team sees someone else cut by another team that they like better. That's perhaps the hardest part of the whole situation of roster cuts - someone making it past the final cutdown only to be waived the following day. But that's reality in the NFL, so even though this is the final cutdown to 53, don't think that this is by any means the final roster.
With that said, however, let's take one last shot at predicting the 53-man roster for the Colts. You can find my previous attempts here, and there's not much that has changed here. In fact, the main thing that has caused changes has simply been injuries. A few players have injuries of note and that adjusts this prediction just a little bit.
Quarterbacks (2): Andrew Luck, Matt Hasselbeck
Easy call. Nothing to see here.
Running Backs (4): Frank Gore, Boom Herron, Josh Robinson, Tyler Varga
The uncertain status of Boom Herron (shoulder injury) helps Tyler Varga's case for making the roster, but I don't think he needed the extra help. His play in the preseason should be enough to get him a roster spot, and as owner Jim Irsay noted in the booth on Thursday night, Varga's ability to contribute on special teams helps his case greatly.
Wide Receivers (5): T.Y. Hilton, Andre Johnson, Donte Moncrief, Phillip Dorsett, Duron Carter
I think, ideally, the Colts would love to keep six guys around at the receiver position, and if they were to do that the number six guy would likely be Griff Whalen. But with injuries elsewhere, Whalen just barely misses the cut as Duron Carter has helped cement his status in the past couple of games after a strong training camp.
Tight Ends (3): Dwayne Allen, Coby Fleener, Jack Doyle
This has remained constant since the beginning of training camp. I don't really think anyone has emerged enough to make the Colts keep him as a fourth tight end, and the top three are plenty good enough to be a great tight end trio.
Offensive Line (10): Anthony Castonzo, Lance Louis, Khaled Holmes, Todd Herremans, Jack Mewhort, Joe Reitz, Jonotthan Harrison, David Arkin, Hugh Thornton, Denzelle Good
There are a couple of things to note about the offensive line. Firstly, Hugh Thornton is still injured and we have no idea when he will return, so that will likely prompt the Colts to keep extra depth, such as David Arkin. There's always the question of durability as well along the line, which is why there are several depth options. And with Jack Mewhort making the switch to right tackle, I think the Colts might keep more than one backup tackle, which is why Denzelle Good makes the team along with Joe Reitz.
Defensive Line (7): Kendall Langford, Josh Chapman, Montori Hughes, David Parry, Zach Kerr, Henry Anderson, Earl Okine
The biggest injury of note to the Colts is Arthur Jones' ankle injury, and it will require surgery. The Colts haven't officially said how long he will be out, but Jim Irsay said that it will keep him out for a while and reports this week suggested that the best-case scenario would be for him to return mid-season, though it might keep him out all year. So on this prediction, I've projected Arthur Jones to injured reserve (perhaps with the designation to return), though that hasn't actually happened yet (so, again, it's a prediction). If Jones is moved to IR, however, I think that could open the door for a guy like Earl Okine, who had a very strong preseason and could sneak on the roster as a depth defensive lineman.
Outside Linebackers (5): Robert Mathis, Erik Walden, Trent Cole, Jonathan Newsome, Bjoern Werner
There's a possibility of the team deciding to carry an extra outside linebacker until Robert Mathis is back, but it's sounding like Mathis' return will be this month sometime and the Colts do have the pieces that they can move around if need be. Cole and Newsome are both pass rushers while Walden and Werner are run defenders, but particularly Walden has shown that he can be versatile (and then Werner could serve as a pass rusher if it comes down to that, I guess, but I wouldn't like it). So for now, I'm leaving five at this spot.
Inside Linebackers (4): Jerrell Freeman, D'Qwell Jackson, Nate Irving, Junior Sylvestre
I think the fourth inside linebacker spot is really up for grabs between Junior Sylvestre and Amarlo Herrera. I wonder if the team might like Herrera better, but if it were up to me I'd absolutely take Sylvestre here. The Colts could go either way and it wouldn't be a surprise whatsoever. The big variable? How severe is Sylvestre's ankle injury he suffered Thursday night? If it will keep him out for any length of time at all, that could make the decision easier for the Colts.
Cornerbacks (6): Vontae Davis, Greg Toler, Darius Butler, D'Joun Smith, Jalil Brown, Sheldon Price
Sheldon Price sneaks on the team as the sixth cornerback, and it's for two reasons: firstly, he had an impressive camp and preseason and has played well. But secondly, and more significantly, Greg Toler is still injured with a neck injury, and the last we heard he was still week to week. Without knowing when he will return, Price makes the team as the sixth cornerback.
Safeties (4): Mike Adams, Dwight Lowery, Clayton Geathers, Colt Anderson
This position hasn't changed, although it could be argued that Geathers and Anderson both helped solidify their spots on the roster on Thursday night. I think it has been pretty clear all along, however, that Geathers is the third safety and that Anderson is the fourth.
Special Teams (3): Pat McAfee, Adam Vinatieri, Matt Overton
This one's just as easy as the quarterback position. In fact, there's no one else even competing for these spots.