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Selecting the Colts All-Time 53-Man Roster: Linebackers and Defensive Backs

Pittsburgh Steelers v Minnesota Vikings Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images

John Farley at Field Gulls, the Seattle Seahawks SB Nation blog, had a fantastic idea for an interactive story during the slowest time of the NFL off-season. He put together a list of the franchise’s all-time 53-man roster that culminated into this story.

The Colts have had their own rich history of players who should not be forgotten and who deserve the kind of recognition that Hall of Fame voters and fans of other franchise’s might never see. This is the chance for the Stampede Blue Colts fan community to look back at some of the Colts great and vote for who they believe belongs on the all-time team.

We now move to the defensive side of the football at the with second level players at linebacker and in the secondary. For the purposes of the all-time 53, there will 5 inside linebackers, 4 outside linebackers, five corners, and four safeties.

For those concerned about deserving players not making the cut, we will include a 10 player practice squad designation and discuss the biggest snubs.

Inside Linebacker

Some of the most intimidating players in football history have played inside linebacker. Every down these warriors have to either take on running backs in the hole, fight through blocks laid by much larger players, or have the finesse and vision to read the quarterback and eat his lunch when he tries to attack the middle of the field. Which of these players should make the Colts all-time 53?


Which Colts Inside Linebacker Must Be on the Colts All-Time 53

This poll is closed

  • 10%
    Duane Bickett
    (90 votes)
  • 50%
    Gary Brackett
    (455 votes)
  • 3%
    Quintin Coryatt
    (29 votes)
  • 23%
    Mike Curtis
    (214 votes)
  • 10%
    Jeff Herrod
    (93 votes)
  • 1%
    Bill Pellington
    (12 votes)
893 votes total Vote Now

Outside Linebacker

One of the most prolific pass rushers in Colts history creates a strange dilemma for this spot on the roster. On the one hands, he was a part of one of the most prolific pass rushing tandems in NFL history across from Dwight Freeney. On the other hand, he had one-third of his sacks lined up as an outside linebacker without the same kind of threat across from him. I made the tough call to include him here. That said, who needs to be on the all-time 53?


Which Colts Outside Linebacker Must Be on the Colts All-Time 53

This poll is closed

  • 0%
    Chip Banks
    (7 votes)
  • 0%
    Johnie Cooks
    (5 votes)
  • 14%
    Ted Hendricks
    (133 votes)
  • 4%
    Cato June
    (46 votes)
  • 76%
    Robert Mathis
    (716 votes)
  • 1%
    Don Shinnick
    (11 votes)
  • 2%
    Marcus Washington
    (20 votes)
938 votes total Vote Now


This is one of the more difficult positions for me to put together from a historical perspective. The Colts time in Indianapolis has not been littered with excellent cornerback play. If readers have suggestions from the years in Baltimore that I have missed I am open to including them in the list.


Which Colts Cornerback Must Be on the Colts All-Time 53

This poll is closed

  • 6%
    Bobby Boyd
    (60 votes)
  • 22%
    Ray Buchanan
    (203 votes)
  • 6%
    Eugene Daniel
    (58 votes)
  • 39%
    Vontae Davis
    (355 votes)
  • 2%
    Nick Harper
    (23 votes)
  • 4%
    Kelvin Hayden
    (45 votes)
  • 14%
    Marlin Jackson
    (128 votes)
  • 0%
    Tim Jennings
    (6 votes)
  • 3%
    Lenny Lyles
    (29 votes)
907 votes total Vote Now


While cornerback may have been a relatively weak position in Colts history, safety is one of the strongest defensive position in the team’s history. While Bob Sanders is the most dominant player I’ve ever seen play on a football field in my lifetime, there are other players who some will argue were even better -- especially consider they had longer careers. Which of these players belong on the all-time 53?


Which Colts Safety Must Be on the Colts All-Time 53

This poll is closed

  • 0%
    Mike Adams
    (4 votes)
  • 2%
    Jason Belser
    (19 votes)
  • 17%
    Antoine Bethea
    (161 votes)
  • 1%
    Bruce Laird
    (14 votes)
  • 0%
    Jerry Logan
    (8 votes)
  • 73%
    Bob Sanders
    (690 votes)
  • 4%
    Rick Volk
    (45 votes)
941 votes total Vote Now

I suspect that there will have to be a follow-up for these position groups as well. There will be clear favorites here and there will be a much greater reliance on older fans who have a greater appreciation of the team’s history in some of these spots.

Let’s see what you all think.