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Chuck Pagano on keeping Stephen Morris: “We didn’t want to lose a good football player”

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NFL: Preseason-Indianapolis Colts at Cincinnati Bengals Aaron Doster-USA TODAY Sports

One of the bigger surprises from Saturday’s roster moves by the Indianapolis Colts was that a quarterback wasn’t among the players cut. The Colts had both Scott Tolzien and Stephen Morris in training camp battling for the backup spot to Andrew Luck, but it seemed very unrealistic for the team to be able to keep both of them.

That’s exactly what they did, however. Both Tolzien and Morris made the initial 53-man roster, making three quarterbacks on the roster. And even though there have been three additional guys cut since Saturday, the team still has three quarterbacks on their active roster.

The reason why that is seems rather simple: Morris played well this preseason and showed that he’s a good player, and the Colts didn’t want to lose a good football player by waiving him.

“I think everybody saw what he was able to do in the preseason,” head coach Chuck Pagano said on Monday about Morris. “You look at the offseason and you look at how he came back and you look at him through training camp, he has gotten so much better. He is a talented player and we just felt like he was deserving of a 53-man roster spot.”

In other words, the Colts didn’t want to risk losing Morris through waivers (which would be the only way to get him on their practice squad).

“You talk about all of those things,” Pagano said, “but he did enough to where based on our situation, even as it is, we felt like we didn’t want to lose a good football player.”

Morris certainly impressed this preseason, completing 39 of 61 passes (63.9%) for 531 yards (8.7 yards per attempt), four touchdowns and an interception for a passer rating of 106.7, while also adding eight rushes for 50 yards and a touchdown. He threw for more yards and was tied for the most touchdowns of any AFC quarterback this preseason, and he showed poise under pressure too - leading the Colts to two fourth quarter comebacks and nearly leading them to another one (he put them ahead but had his two-point conversion picked off and returned for the deciding score). He was very impressive, which caused the Colts to consider keeping three players.

That’s what they wound up doing, as they didn’t want to lose either Scott Tolzien or Stephen Morris. They should have made the tough decision and had the guts to either cut Morris or commit to him as their backup, but at the same time I think the Colts’ decision to keep three quarterbacks can be encouraging in a sense. The move showed that the Colts weren’t so bound by circumstances on their roster but were instead focused on keeping the best talent around regardless of position. That’s a very good philosophy, but at the same time I think the Colts should have simply made the tough decision at quarterback. If they think Scott Tolzien is the right backup, keep him. If they think Stephen Morris is the best option, keep him. Keeping three quarterbacks around just takes up another roster spot on a position that’s screwed if Andrew Luck goes down anyway. So I applaud the Colts for having the philosophy of keeping talent over need, but at the same time I can’t help but think they should have just made a decision and kept one of them. If they were so afraid of losing Stephen Morris on waivers, they should have just kept him and cut Scott Tolzien.