INDIANAPOLIS – It’s that time of year.
With the close to the preseason for the Colts on Friday, all the attention now moves towards roster cuts.
By Tuesday at 4:00 PM, the Colts will need to trim their 80-man roster down to the mandated number of 53, with a 16-person practice squad being formed on the following day.
This roster has changed a good amount in recent days with several marquee Colts going on the COVID-19 list.
Here’s my updated, and final, 53-man roster projection for the Colts (number of players currently at that position, number being kept, number kept at that spot last year):
Quarterbacks (4/3/3): Jacob Eason, Sam Ehlinger*, Brett Hundley, Carson Wentz
Bowen’s Analysis: As you’ll see at various spots here, the Colts are going to carry an extra player due to COVID. This has me keeping Brett Hundley, until Carson Wentz returns. Despite Wentz’s return to practice last week, his situation has me still wanting to keep 3 quarterbacks on the 53-man roster, once he gets off the COVID list. As long as Wentz is scheduled to return in September, he shouldn’t be an injured reserve candidate. Now, the Ehlinger injury on Friday night throws a wrinkle here. If it’s indeed serious, does that mean you keep Hundley on the 53 to start the year? Do you leave this spot open if another QB hits the open market next week?
Running Backs (6/4/4): Nyheim Hines, Deon Jackson*, Bobby LeMay, Marlon Mack, Jonathan Taylor, Jordan Wilkins
Bowen’s Analysis: This continues to seem pretty obvious. Honestly, more of a question might be around Mack. To me, Wilkins has been the better looking back this camp, and he also gives you a presence on special teams, something Mack doesn’t. Still, I don’t think you are in a major numbers crunch, so you can allow Mack to continue to get back to his old self coming off the Achilles.
Wide Receivers (10/6/6): Tarik Black*, Parris Campbell, Ashton Dulin, DeMichael Harris, T.Y. Hilton, Zach Pascal, Dezmon Patmon, Michael Pittman, Mike Strachan*, Tyler Vaughns*
Bowen’s Analysis: The main decision here will come down to this: which players you can get through waivers and onto your practice squad? That’s different than deciding: Who gives us the best chance. If you are making the ‘best game day roster’ at wideout, you would pick Dulin over Patmon, IMO. Strachan strikes me as more of a mismatch problem than Patmon, and Dulin is a great special teamer. Remember, a 5th or 6th wideout hardly plays on game day so that role will have to be very specific. Of course, keeping Patmon and Strachan would have one eye to the future of contract years for Hilton and Patmon. Now, Patmon injured his foot on Friday night. Any delayed absence for him will not help his cause. Along with this, reports of T.Y. Hilton missing some time are surfacing after he got hurt in the final practice at Grand Park. If that’s the case, Hilton will still need to make the initial 53-man roster, before a possible move to the IR list, where he would have to miss at least three games before returning. With Pascal on the COVID list, I’m going with Ashton Dulin in his place. DeMichael Harris is still a name to watch for me, if you need another WR for game day.
Tight Ends (5/3/3): Mo Alie-Cox, Jack Doyle, Kylen Granson*, Farrod Green, Jordan Thomas
Bowen’s Analysis: I don’t see room for four tight ends, even though some of these guys have received great opportunities to make an impression this camp. Both Green and Thomas have been pretty consistent in camp.
Offensive Line (13/9/8): Julie’n Davenport, Jake Eldrenkamp, Eric Fisher, Will Fries*, Mark Glowinski, Will Holden, Joey Hunt, Ryan Kelly, Carter O’Donnell, Quenton Nelson, Danny Pinter, Chris Reed, Braden Smith
Bowen’s Analysis: Well, this has (potentially) changed a good amount due to COVID. We know Quenton Nelson is a close contact, so if his absence is indeed just 5 days, he’s going to be back on the active roster before cut down. Fisher did test positive for COVID-19, which means his time away from the team will likely be around 10 days. If it weren’t for this, I would be moving Fisher to the active roster to start the season. But with him still on the COVID-list at cut down time, that opens up a roster spot for me. At tackle, it’s probably Smith, Davenport, and Holden. With Fisher’s current status, I have room for all 3 right now. Davenport has been the starter as of late and Holden has shown position flexibility. For now, I’ll keep Fries, a 7th round pick in 2021, who has played several spots in camp. With the Fisher situation, you’ve got room for Fries on the 53-man roster. If Davenport and Smith are your starting tackles Week 1, then Holden would be your backup swing tackle. One thing to add, Danny Pinter has been in a boot at camp for the last two weeks. Would he be an IR candidate (to return) once the 53-man roster is set on Tuesday afternoon? Pinter was doing some jogging at Monday’s practice.
Defensive Line (14/9/9): Ben Banogu, Andrew Brown, DeForest Buckner, Kameron Cline, Tyquan Lewis, Al-Quadin Muhammad, Dayo Odeyingbo*, Kwity Paye*, Isaac Rochell, Taylor Stallworth, Grover Stewart, Kemoko Turay, Chris Williams, Antwaun Woods
Bowen’s Analysis: I’m placing Odeyingbo on the physically unable to perform list so that opens up a roster spot. I debated over Rochell, but he’s shown me something lately and gives the team some versatility. Banogu had a very strong camp. The backup defensive tackle spot(s) is so hard for me. Brown has had a nice camp and brings good versatility, but Stallworth and Woods have much more experience. Woods’ late hamstring injury has me trying to sneak him onto the practice squad. Williams is someone that deserves mention, too.
Linebackers (9/6/7): Matthew Adams, Curtis Bolton, Zaire Franklin, Jordan Glasgow, Malik Jefferson, Isaiah Kaufusi*, Darius Leonard, Bobby Okereke, EJ Speed
Bowen’s Analysis: This group hardly ever changes. Even though Glasgow missed a good amount of time in camp, I still think his value on special teams is too much to let go. Adams has played a little fullback in goal line at camp.
Cornerbacks (9/6/5): T.J. Carrie, Andre Chachere, Anthony Chesley, Holton Hill, Kenny Moore, Xavier Rhodes, Isaiah Rodgers, Marvell Tell, Rock Ya-Sin
Bowen’s Analysis: So with Ryan Kelly on the COVID list, I’ve got an extra number to use somwehre. For now, let’s give the nod to Chachere. Without him, I’m probably a number short in the secondary? Chachere brings great value because he’s played safety and corner this camp. That’s huge on game day and not just the 53-man roster. Tell was a tough cut because you could contribute a sluggish camp due to him opting out last year. Carrie has missed two weeks now due to injury, so his status could shift some things.
Safeties (6/4/5): Julian Blackmon, Ibraheim Campbell, Sean Davis, Shawn Davis*, George Odum, Khari Willis
Bowen’s Analysis: I could be talked into another safety, but this is a group that has actually turned to a few corners (Carrie and Chachere) for safety playing time in camp. That’s not a great indicator of the depth.
Specialists (3/3/3): K-Rodrigo Blankenship, LS-Luke Rhodes, P-Rigoberto Sanchez
Bowen’s Analysis: With Eddy Pineiro getting cut last Tuesday, Hot Rod is keeping his job