INDIANAPOLIS – Another sign that regular season week is here came on Tuesday afternoon.
The Colts have published their first regular season depth chart as they prepare for Sunday’s season opener in Houston.
Here are some takeaways I have from the Colts first regular season depth chart (*rookie):
Quarterbacks: Matt Ryan, Nick Foles, Sam Ehlinger
Bowen’s Analysis: The Colts have made this very clear that Nick Foles is the backup, and Sam Ehlinger is the 3rd QB, currently occupying a spot on the 53-man roster.
Running Backs: Jonathan Taylor, Nyheim Hines, Deon Jackson
Bowen’s Analysis: Will Deon Jackson spell Jonathan Taylor at all on a consistent basis?
Wide Receivers: Michael Pittman, Ashton Dulin
Bowen’s Analysis: Dulin has earned a spot on this team thanks to what he brings to the wideout group, and not just for his special teams presence. He’s the likely 4th wideout.
Wide Receivers: Parris Campbell
Bowen’s Analysis: The Colts don’t have an obvious backup slot at wideout. Nyheim Hines is certainly able to help out.
Wide Receivers: Alec Pierce*, Mike Strachan, Dezmon Patmon
Bowen’s Analysis: Despite less time in camp and the preseason, it’s Strachan ahead of Patmon. Will that lead to a game day role for either?
Tight Ends: Mo Alie-Cox
Bowen’s Analysis: The Colts have looked into adding a tight end, but enter the season with these 3 on the 53-man roster.
Tight Ends: Kylen Granson, Jelani Woods*
Bowen’s Analysis: Perhaps Woods will receive some spot duty early in his rookie season.
Left Tackle: Matt Pryor, Bernhard Raimann
Bowen’s Analysis: Pryor is your Week 1 starter for Matt Ryan’s blindside.
Left Guard: Quenton Nelson
Bowen’s Analysis: Duh.
Center: Ryan Kelly, Wesley French*
Bowen’s Analysis: The backup center is Danny Pinter (sliding over from right guard, if needed) and then Will Fries.
Right Guard: Danny Pinter, Will Fries
Bowen’s Analysis: Fries is probably the backup at both guard spots.
Right Tackle: Braden Smith, Dennis Kelly, Luke Tenuta*
Bowen’s Analysis: Backup tackle depth is something the Colts have tried to address, with Kelly’s knee injury possibly hurting some of that effort.
Defensive End (LEO): Yannick Ngakoue, Ifeadi Odenigbo, Ben Banogu
Bowen’s Analysis: The Colts are deservingly rewarding Odenigbo for his camp performance, which was definitely better than Banogu.
Defensive Tackle: DeForest Buckner, Byron Cowart
Bowen’s Analysis: Defensive tackle depth is a question.
Nose Tackle: Grover Stewart, Eric Johnson II*
Bowen’s Analysis: Do the Colts trust Johnson, their 5th round rookie, for an early rotational role?
Defensive End: Kwity Paye, Tyquan Lewis, Dayo Odeyingbo
Bowen’s Analysis: I’ve got Lewis as the 4th rusher in the pass rushing package. Both him and Odeyingbo will move around a lot.
WILL Linebacker: Bobby Okereke, E.J. Speed, Grant Stuard
Bowen’s Analysis: This linebacker depth chart is different, compared to the roles in the Matt Eberflus defense. Okereke is a definite starter in nickel or base personnel.
MIKE Linebackers: Shaquille Leonard
Bowen’s Analysis: Is Leonard a MIKE linebacker in Gus Bradley’s system? That appears so, although it sounds like his duties won’t be changing much.
SAM Linebacker: Zaire Franklin, JoJo Domann*
Bowen’s Analysis: Like we saw in camp, Franklin would be the 3rd linebacker (when Shaquille Leonard is healthy). Domann has had a strong camp as an undrafted free agent.
Cornerback: Stephon Gilmore, Isaiah Rodgers
Bowen’s Analysis: No surprise here.
Cornerback: Brandon Facyson, Dallis Flowers*
Bowen’s Analysis: Facyson is ahead of Rodgers for that 3rd cornerback in the nickel personnel grouping.
Nickel Cornerback: Kenny Moore II
Bowen’s Analysis: Who backs up Moore at the slot position is a little bit more of a mystery. Practice squad vet Tony Brown could be an option there.
Free Safety: Julian Blackmon, Rodney Thomas II*
Bowen’s Analysis: Rodney McLeod is probably the backup at both safety spots.
Strong Safety: Nick Cross*, Rodney McLeod
Bowen’s Analysis: Like the Colts did in the preseason, they are listing Cross as the starter next to Julian Blackmon. That means 2 Colts rookies will likely start on Sunday (Cross and Alec Pierce).
Kick Returner: Isaiah Rodgers Sr., Ashton Dulin
Bowen’s Analysis: It’s still Rodgers keeping his kick return duties. Rodgers has returned to practice after missing time due to a concussion in August.
Punt Returner: Nyheim Hines
Bowen’s Analysis: It’s still Hines keeping his punt return duties.