Over the last few weeks, members of the Colts fan community have participated in a series of polls to help choose the best players at each position that should make up the all-time franchise roster. This group of players is, without question, a dominant group that would match-up well with similar groups from other franchises.
There were some historic players who were undeserving snubs, however, so I will take the liberty of filling the practice squad on the basis of votes received and also giving a nod to deserving players who might have been overlooked. At the very end of this story, you will have an opportunity to vote for which of the practice squad members most deserves a spot on the all-time 53 list.
Offense (22 players)
Peyton Manning, Johnny Unitas
These quarterbacks were clearly the best in Colts history. Other key players at the position receiving votes: Bert Jones, Andrew Luck, Earl Morrall.
Running Backs (3)
Edgerrin James, Marshall Faulk, Eric Dickerson
The list includes two current Hall of Fame inductees and one who has a legitimate shot to join them. All three players played with the Colts in Indianapolis. This leaves out three big names who have made huge contributions to the Colts franchise over the years: Lenny Moore, Lydell Mitchell, and Alan Ameche.
Wide Receivers (5)
Marvin Harrison, Reggie Wayne, Raymond Berry, TY Hilton, Bill Brooks
This an impressive list of Colts wide receivers. Two players have been inducted in the Pro Football Hall of Fame and another has a real chance of joining his teammates. It is also worth noting that two of these players were a big part of Peyton Manning’s career in Indianapolis.
Tight Ends (3)
Dallas Clark, John Mackey, Marcus Pollard
John Mackey is a member of the Pro Football Hall of Fame and is among those players who are considered as the best tight ends in NFL history. He is joined by Dallas Clark and Marcus Pollard who were particularly dangerous as receiving tight ends.
Offensive Tackles (4)
Tarik Glenn, Chris Hinton, Jim Parker, Ryan Diem
Glenn is best known for protecting the blindside of Peyton Manning in the first half of his career. His surprising retirement following the Super Bowl win in 2006 has created a void that has been difficult to fill. Still, Jim Parker was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1973 and Chris Hinton has been a semifinalist in voting for the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
Ryan Diem is probably the most difficult player to put on the list as he had a few solid seasons at right tackle but will not be considered as one of the all-time greats at his position outside of Indianapolis.
Offensive Guards (3)
Ryan Lilja, Jake Scott, Dan Sullivan
Both Ryan Lilja and Jake Scott were a part of the offensive line with Tarik Glenn, Ryan Diem, and Jeff Saturday. This was the strongest offensive line throughout Peyton Manning’s career in Indianapolis so it is not surprising to see the full group included on this list. However, Dan Sullivan is an offensive lineman who played with the Baltimore Colts and was with the team when they won Super Bowl V. Other guards who were deserving of inclusion on this list are: Art Spinney, Glenn Ressler, and Robert Pratt.
Jeff Saturday, Ray Donaldson
It is hard to not truly admire Jeff Saturday. The ladies can’t get enough of his dreamy blue eyes. The guys like pulling for a player who was undrafted and had started a day job when he got the call from the Colts. A player like that becoming the quarterback of the offensive line for Peyton Manning is amazing to watch. However, Saturday was not the only dominant center in franchise history. Ray Donaldson was named to numerous Pro Bowls and won a Super Bowl during his time in the NFL as well.
Defense (28 Players)
Bob Sanders, Antoine Bethea, Mike Adams, Jason Belser
No safety in Colts history had a more exciting game than Bob Sanders. At only 5’8”, I’ve watched Sanders nearly cut a monster-sized running back like Steven Jackson 6’2”, 236 lbs. in half. He made pivotal interceptions at key times during games and left any ball carrier just a little bit more shy coming through a hole into the second level of the Colts defense. Though his career was cut short due to multiple injuries, he’ll be a Colts fan hero for helping a bad defense during the 2015 regular season become a stingy and opportunistic unit on the team’s run to the Super Bowl.
Players who were also deserving of making the roster: Rick Volk, Jerry Logan
Vontae Davis, Ray Buchanan, Marlin Jackson, Kelvin Hayden, Eugene Daniel
Both Vontae Davis and Ray Bu are deserving nominees to the all-time 53 list as the best shutdown style corners in Indianapolis Colts history. Marlin Jackson and Kelvin Hayden made key contributions to the 2016 NFL championship team but were otherwise not mainstays on the roster. Eugene Daniel is another player who played a long time for the Colts and was a reliable starter.
Players who were also deserving of making the roster: Bobby Boyd
Outside Linebackers (4)
Robert Mathis, Duane Bickett, Ted Hendricks, Cato June
Mathis put up nearly half of his career sacks as an outside linebacker including the best single season of his career. He accomplished this level of production without his bash brother teammate Dwight Freeney lining up on the opposite side of the field. While he could very easily be included as a defensive end, he joins Bickett, Hendricks, and June to represent the Colts with the linebackers.
Inside Linebackers (5)
Gary Brackett, Mike Curtis, Jeff Herrod, Quentin Coryatt, Bill Pellington
Similar to Jeff Saturday, it was easy for fans in Indianapolis to get behind Gary Brackett. He was an undersized, undrafted linebacker who became the heart and soul of the Colts defense. He over-achieved what anyone would have ever expected from him and helped the Colts win a Super Bowl in 2006. The most highly decorated Colts inside linebacker is Mike Curtis.
Defensive Ends (5)
Dwight Freeney, Gino Marchetti, Bubba Smith, Raheem Brock, John Hand
A defensive end pairing of Freeney and Marchetti is a ridiculous thought. During both of their careers (Freeney may still play in 2017) they terrorized offensive lines, quarterbacks, and ball carriers. Their supporting cast is a very well rounded group as well.
Players who were also deserving of making the roster: Ordell Braase, John Dutton
Defensive Tackles (5)
Art Donovan, Tony Siragusa, Ellis Johnson, Gene Lipscomb, Billy Ray Smith Sr.
Art Donovan and Tony Siragusa were both absolutely dominant during stretches of their careers and paring them with Freeney and Marchetti makes the defensive line a pretty deadly bunch. Their depth is also solid.
One player in particular also stands out as deserving to make the roster: Fred Miller
Vinatieri may end his career as the NFL’s all-time leading scorer. He is certainly in the discussion as one of the best kickers in NFL history. He has been to five Super Bowls and won four of them and is one of the most accurate kickers over a career throughout history as well.
It goes without saying that Pat McAfee was one of the best punters in the NFL as a member of the Colts. His short career might cost him against some of the other punters in Colts history. In particular, Rohn Stark seems like a player who could have a strong argument for a spot on this list.
Long Snapper (1)
Both Snow and Matt Overton had solid careers in Indianapolis. One thing that might really separate Snow from Overton is the record he set with Hunter Smith and Adam Vanderjagt in 2003 as the first snapper, holder, and kicker trio in NFL history to go an entire season, including the playoffs, without missing a field goal or extra-point attempt.
Practice Squad (10)
Bert Jones (QB), Lenny Moore (RB), Lydell Mitchell (RB), Rick Volk (S), Jerry Logan (S), John Dutton (DE), Fred Miller (DT), Ordell Braase (DE), Bobby Boyd (CB), Art Spinney (G)
Bert Jones (QB) was the NFL’s MVP in 1976, along with being a First-team All-Pro and the NFL Offensive Player of the year. He threw for 18,190 yards and 124 touchdowns with a 56.1% completion percentage. With the Colts he took the team to three straight AFC East division titles from 1975-1977 and during the entire 70s decade, Jones was one of only three quarterbacks to achieve a 100+ passer rating -- joining Roger Staubach and Ken Stabler.
Lenny Moore (RB) was a 2-time NFL champion, 7-time Pro Bowler, 5-time First-team All-Pro, NFL Rookie of the Year in 1956, NFL rushing touchdowns leader in 1964, the NFL’s MVP in 1964 and amassed 5,174 rushing yards, 63 rushing touchdowns, 364 receptions, 6,039 receiving yards, and 48 receiving touchdowns over his career. Some consider Moore the great running back in Colts history.
Lydell Mitchell (RB) is a 3-time Pro Bowler and two-time NFL receptions leader. He amassed 6,534 rushing yards and 30 rushing touchdowns with the Colts. He joined Bert Jones to help lead the Colts to three consecutive AFC East Division titles and surpassed 1,000 yards rushing in three straight seasons.
Rick Volk (S) is a Super Bowl Champion, 3-time Pro Bowl selection, 1-time First-team All-Pro, and finished his career with 38 interceptions. He played 9 seasons with the Colts.
Jerry Logan (S) is a 3-time Pro Bowler and Super Bowl champion. He played 10 seasons with the Colts.
John Dutton (DE) is a 3-time Pro Bowler, 1-time Second-team All-Pro, and a member of the NFL All-rookie team in 1974. He earned all of these honors during his 5 years with the Colts. He was a member of the “Sack Pack” in 1975 and led the Colts in sacks with a career-high of 17.
Fred Miller (DT) is a 3-time Pro Bowler, and Super Bowl champion. He played 9 seasons with the Baltimore Colts.
Ordell Braase (DE) is a 3-time NFL champion and two-time Pro Bowl selection. He played 11 seasons with the Baltimore Colts and recovered 7 fumbles. He played with Art Donovan on a dominant Colts defensive line.
Bobby Boyd (CB) is a 2-time Pro Bowler and four-time First-team All Pro. He led the league in interceptions in 1965 and finished his career with 57 interceptions, 994 interception yards and 4 touchdowns. He also recovered 11 fumbles.
Art Spinney (G) is a two-time Pro Bowler who played nine years with the Baltimore Colts.
Which "practice squad player" most deserves a spot on the active roster of the Colts All-Time 53
This poll is closed
Bobby Boyd (CB)
Ordell Braase (DE)
John Dutton (DE)
Bert Jones (QB)
Jerry Logan (S)
Fred Miller (DT)
Lydell Mitchell (RB)
Lenny Moore (RB)
Art Spinney (G)
Rick Volk (S)