The Indianapolis Colts just completed cutting their roster down to 75 players yesterday, but that doesn’t mean they’re done with the cuts. By Saturday at 4:00 p.m., the team will need to free up 22 more spots to get down to 53 players.
The second wave of roster cuts is the most difficult one, and teams typically utilize Thursday night’s preseason games to get a better feel for some of the depth spots. The Colts have an added element to their decision-making this year, however: injuries.
In one sense, the Colts have been rather fortunate with injuries this year. They’ve yet to suffer a season-ending injury to a starter, since they got tremendous news from Jack Mewhort’s MRI on his knee (he’s out to 2-4 weeks and doesn’t need surgery). But in another sense, while the team would prefer the current scenario to season-ending injuries, it makes the roster decisions harder. The reason is because they’ll have to carry injured players on their active roster as those guys recover.
Cornerback Vontae Davis, inside linebacker Sio Moore, safety Clayton Geathers, defensive lineman Kendall Langford, defensive lineman Henry Anderson, and left guard Jack Mewhort are all starters who might not be ready for week one. Furthermore, guys like Darius Butler, D’Joun Smith, Tevin Mitchel, Hugh Thornton, and others are among those players looking for a roster spot but currently dealing with injuries.
The bottom line is that as much as you’d like to dismiss it, the injuries will play a huge factor in the team’s roster decisions this weekend. There’s no other option.
“I think you have to look at all the injured players and know that it’s going to affect roster mechanics in one way or another,” head coach Chuck Pagano said on Tuesday.
For example: with so many injuries at cornerback, the Colts might have to keep an extra player there, and a backup (like D’Joun Smith or Tevin Mitchel) who is injured might stand a worse shot of making the roster than he otherwise might have. The same is true along the offensive line, the defensive line, and other spots as well.
“We will evaluate who plays and who doesn’t play based on who comes back this week,” Pagano said. “Hopefully we get some guys healthy and we are able to play those guys. Again, we have until kickoff to make those decisions and then we have until Saturday to see what the health of our football team looks like compared to today to make those tough decisions that we have to make come Saturday to get to the 53-man roster. Having a bunch of guys that have played winning football, we’ve got some starters that won’t be available, it makes it tricky. We are going to have to do a really good job. Ryan [Grigson] will do a great job. Jimmy Raye III, the personnel group and coaches will all get together and we’ll make the appropriate decisions based on all of those components.”
It sounds like the Colts will take until Saturday to make their cuts, and it’s hard to blame them. That gives them as much time as possible to get a better feel for their injury situations and adapt accordingly. The injured reserve with a designation to return option is available, but it becomes tricky with a starter: if he’s only going to miss a couple of games, the team would rather keep him on the active roster to get more games out of him.
All of this normally goes into roster decisions, but for the Colts this year it will likely be the most prevalent story as Chuck Pagano, Ryan Grigson, Jimmy Raye, and others discuss their options leading up to Saturday’s roster purge.