As the Indianapolis Colts cut-down their roster to the final 53, it technically won’t be official until all of the following players clear COVID-19 protocols: Carson Wentz, Ryan Kelly, Zach Pascal and Eric Fisher. Since the unvaccinated Colts need to sit out a minus of five days due to contact tracing, a few players will make the roster then be cut right before game week begins for their season opener against the Seattle Seahawks.
So, after a grueling training camp and preseason slate for the Colts where multiple injuries sidelined key players, how does the roster look? Without further ado, let’s dive into my final predictions.
Quarterback: Carson Wentz*, Jacob Eason, Brett Hundley, Sam Ehlinger* (3)
With Wentz out due to COVID-19 contact tracing, plus Sam Ehlinger expected to land on the temporary injured reserve or PUP list, Brett Hundley should make the 53-man roster — at least for now. With the uncertainty surrounding Wentz, especially due to him being unvaccinated, the best for Indianapolis would be to carry three quarterbacks each week on the roster.
Once Ehlinger returns, I would expect Hundley to be cut mid-season. In the meantime, this seems pretty locked in to me with Jacob Eason earning the backup job during training camp and preseason.
Running Back: Jonathan Taylor, Nyheim Hines, Marlon Mack, Jordan Wilkins (4)
This has been a lock for seemingly months now, and no changes are made here. Although undrafted rookie Deon Jackson made a strong lasting impression in the Colts’ preseason finale, I don’t think he’s done enough to beat out Wilkins for RB4.
No debates here, this quartet is back in the saddle again for another year together.
Wide Receiver: T.Y. Hilton*, Michael Pittman Jr., Parris Campbell, Zach Pascal*, Michael Strachan, Dezmon Patmon, Ashton Dulin, DeMichael Harris (6)
How Colts head coach Frank Reich spoke about Hilton’s injury to the local media on Sunday, it doesn’t sound good for a return anytime soon. If that’s the case, I expect Hilton be placed on the PUP list, guaranteeing he misses the first six games of the season. This opens up a roster spot for both Dezmon Patmon and Ashton Dulin, who were battling for WR6.
DeMichael Harris is a temporary add due to Zach Pascal being in COVID-19 contact tracing, but he would be released and pass through waivers back to their practice squad once Pascal is back at practice next week.
Tight End: Jack Doyle, Mo Alie-Cox, Kylen Granson (3)
After claiming former 2019 third-round pick Kahale Warring off waivers, I was seriously considering putting him on the 53-man roster. However, I think behind the scenes there’s a handshake agreement where he’s bound to be a protected practice squad player throughout the 2021-22 season. If anything happened to Doyle, Alie-Cox or Granson, Warring would be called up to the main roster.
For the first time in the Reich era, I expect Indianapolis to only carry three tight ends.
Offensive Line: Eric Fisher*, Quenton Nelson, Ryan Kelly*, Mark Glowinski, Braden Smith, Julien Davenport, Will Holden, Danny Pinter, Chris Reed, Joey Hunt (9)
From all indications we’ve heard, Fisher shouldn’t be placed on the PUP list. He’s ahead of schedule on his Achilles rehab, but COVID-19 has gotten in the way recently. With Kelly joining Fisher on the Reserve/COVID-19 list, Joey Hunt is a temporary add before he’s ultimately waived to the practice squad next week.
Julien Davenport slides in as Indy’s Week 1 starting left tackle while Fisher gets back to 100 percent. Holden, Pinter and Reed make up a versatile lineup of depth behind the Colts’ locked-in starters.
Defensive Line: Kwity Paye, DeForest Buckner, Grover Stewart, Tyquan Lewis, Kemoko Turay, Ben Banogu, Isaac Rochell, Antwaun Woods, Andrew Brown, Dayo Odeyingbo* (9)
This was one of the toughest positions to figure out, because there’s so much talent in the defensive line room. The backup spots behind Buckner and Stewart were the most gut-wrenching calls to make. Ultimately, I went with Andrew Brown and Antwaun Woods making it over Taylor Stallworth and preseason standout Chris Williams.
With the emergence of Banogu throughout camp, I expect Rochell to play more as a backup to Buckner who provides inside-out versatility. Dayo Odeyingbo begins the season on the PUP list.
Linebacker: Darius Leonard, Bobby Okereke, Zaire Franklin, E.J. Speed, Matthew Adams, Jordan Glasgow (6)
No surprises here. I have all the linebackers making the roster. The backups behind Leonard and Okereke all play valuable roles on special teams, which we know Indianapolis covets.
Leonard and Okereke shouldn’t come off the field for one snap this season, health-permitting, so keeping all of these players around for special teams purposes makes a lot of sense.
Defensive Back: Xavier Rhodes, Kenny Moore, Rock Ya-Sin, Julian Blackmon, Khari Willis, Isaiah Rodgers, T.J. Carrie, Andre Chachere, George Odum, Shawn Davis (10)
This was decided on whether the Colts should carry six cornerbacks or five safeties. With Indianapolis preparing to run more three safety looks during the 2021-22 season, I opted for keeping fifth-round pick Shawn Davis over 2019 fifth-round selection Marvell Tell III. This was a super tough call, but Tell hasn’t done much to earn a spot after opting out last season.
Andre Chachere was the biggest winner in training camp and preseason, because he feels like a lock to make this roster due to his multi-positional versatility.
Special Teams: Rodrigo Blankenship, Rigoberto Sanchez, Luke Rhodes (3)
This was decided already when the Colts released Eddy Pineiro, who didn’t miss a kick throughout the offseason. Blankenship didn’t miss either, and he’s proven he has extended his range continuously making 50-plus yard kicks over the last month-plus.
Notable Cuts: Marvell Tell III, Taylor Stallworth, Tyler Vaughns, Tarik Black, Deon Jackson, Kahale Warring, Chris Williams — Joey Hunt*, DeMichael Harris*
As you can tell, the Colts’ practice squad is about to be loaded with legit NFL players. Don’t be surprised if multiple are claimed off waivers by other teams, as we saw last season.
And there you have it, Colts fans. There’s my final projections for Indianapolis’ 53-man roster. What’s your thoughts? Is there anything you would change before the regular season roster is officially announced on Tuesday?