We’ve touched on this numerous times throughout the preseason, but the time is almost here. The NFL cuts down to 53-man rosters by no later than Saturday at 4pm ET and with one less round of cuts this year, 1,184 players will be waived over the next 48 hours. Teams will still draw from this group to find their practice squads, but multiple teams – especially the Indianapolis Colts – will be looking to improve upon their initial 53-man rosters.
With all of the injuries that have again plagued the Colts this year quite a bit of the shine has been scrubbed off of a few positions that were perceived to be either on the way up, or had found respectable depth through the offsesason. Now, though, the Colts will be looking to a handful of positions to re-gain some of the depth and talent level that was lost.
Where will the Colts be looking for these players as they hit the waiver wire? Let’s dig in.
Sean Spence, Edwin Jackson and Jon Bostic have all been dealing with injuries in recent weeks. Luke Rhodes is a luxury addition due to his doubling as the long snapper, and the Colts have added some interesting depth options such as Jeremiah George and Darnell Sankey.
Sankey looked very good once he got his feet wet against the Pittsburgh Steelers in preseason Week 3, but we have no clue as to what his probability of being rostered at this point. George is another very interesting option, but Spence is almost certain to either get some sort of injury designation and Bostic hasn’t been impressive when he’s been available in the preseason and is playing with club on his hand.
Ultimately this leaves Antonio Morrison and Anthony Walker as the healthiest available at the position. If Bostic is being viewed honestly and Spence doesn’t make the roster the Colts almost have to look elsewhere to upgrade from where they’re currently at.
Here we are again. Jack Mewhort is still such an unknown with his knee situation, Le’Raven Clark has lost his hold on the right tackle position, Ryan Kelly has a foot defect and as a result of all of this Jeremy Vujnovich and undrafted rookie Deyshawn Bond are starters on this line. What is Denzelle Good’s role now? Can a guy like Adam Redmond make the roster too?
[head in hands]
This is exactly where the Colts did NOT want to be heading into the season. And to be fair, there’s no reason they should have assumed that they would be. Zach Banner was picked up in the draft and with some of the existing depth coupled with how the line played in the last few games of the 2016 season – there was no reason to draft 5 linemen and sign another 4 free agents like most fans wanted. Injuries happen.
Chris Ballard is almost certainly going to have to get rid of his gerontophobia as some reinforcements will have to come in the form of some aged veterans. The team can’t really escape it at this point, and there are very few instances where Bond, Vujnovich and Redmond are the best available options. Gonna have to scour the unemployment line for an upgrade.
The Colts are already going after reinforcements in the secondary. They traded for Ronald Martin and signed Earl Wolff in one day to bolster the safety position. Now that Vontae Davis will be sidelined for a few weeks of the regular season and the Colts don’t really know what position T.J. Green will play or if he can play either for that matter some proven veterans who are just the odd men out need to be targeted at this juncture.
The smart money is on Clayton Geathers sitting out the 2017 season, Malik Hooker’s status is somewhat vulnerable and Darius Butler, while currently healthy, is a scare for injury at the position. Nate Hairston, Quincy Wilson and Rashaan Melvin could conceivably be the three starters Week 1 and the depth behind them is less-than-impressive to be candid.
Maybe the signings of Chris Culliver and Corey White mitigate how hard they go after the corners who hit the streets, but neither should keep the Colts from looking, nor do I think it will. The Colts can’t afford to fall back into coverage purgatory like they did last year touting a secondary that couldn’t cover or force turnovers. You have to like the top-end potential and the youth that’s available, however, let’s be real about the majority of the remainder of the depth available.
Aside from T.Y. Hilton and Donte Moncrief the remainder of the receiver corps is largely undefined. Kamar Aiken and Phillip Dorsett will both almost certainly make the roster now that Chester Rogers status is even more of a mystery.
Who fills out the remainder of the position, initially, could be left to either special teams contributions with JoJo Natson, Quan Bray or even size and red zone help with a bigger body like Bug Howard. After the roster is set on Saturday the wire may yield some better options and could even force a decision concerning Dorsett or Aiken.
While there aren’t many projected options jumping out in our minds under 30 years of age to be available, there are always surprises around the league. Just like the other positions on the roster, the Colts can’t afford to look past obvious talent. This roster is simply too vulnerable to let anything get away when an instant upgrade is apparent.
At the moment Jack Doyle, Brandon Williams and Erik Swoope are projected to make the roster despite Swoope’s injury situation. Darell Daniels and Henry Krieger-Coble are perceived as battling for the final spot on the roster at this position and while they’ve both done well this preseason, a more talented and experienced option could become available.
There’s not as much room to add and drop at tight end, and there’s still a possibility that the team only keeps 3 at the position initially. Either way, adding another tight end post league cuts seems probable in order to give Swoope time to return without leaving the team understaffed at such an important position to the offense’s design.
Remember, the Colts still have to build their initial 53-man roster using what they currently have – and possibly anyone they pick up previous to Saturday at 4pm. Afterwards, though, we should expect significant roster jockeying from Ballard which could leave the above positions, and possibly more, in the conversation for upgrading the talent level on the roster. Get your popcorn ready.