INDIANAPOLIS – Let’s put on the full pads and start evaluating.
After two weeks of work together, the Colts can hold full-padded practices with the truest evaluation of the 2020 offseason now here for players and staff.
It’s time for the position battles to ramp up with roster cuts down to 53 players (and then a subsequent 16-man practice squad) coming September 5th, with the regular season opener on September 13th. Of course, with those expanded practice squads in 2020, many names on this list that get waived will remain in Indy on the P.S.
Roster logistics to keep note of: Julian Blackmon is still on the active/non-football injury list. Mo Alie-Cox and Kemoko Turay are both on the active/physically unable to perform list. Those 3 guys current count against the 80-man roster.
The roster is currently at 80 players.
Here is a look at the current roster (current number at each position, how many players were kept at that position last season, how many is being kept in this projection):
Quarterbacks (4/2/3): Jacoby Brissett, Jacob Eason*, Chad Kelly, Philip Rivers
Bowen’s Analysis: Eason ‘beats’ out Kelly for the 3rd QB spot. Like they did to end last season, the Colts are going to have to carry 3 QBs in 2020, but this time for the entire year, barring injury.
Running Backs (5/4/4): Bruce Anderson III, Nyheim Hines, Marlon Mack, Jonathan Taylor*, Jordan Wilkins
Bowen’s Analysis: Since the draft, I’ve decided to add Wilkins to the 53-man roster. Although this is a luxury number and one that could be taken away for another defensive back. With how little the Colts have used a 4th running back, it’s expendable. With the two bonus practice squad spots having to be called up each week, I could see the 4th RB occupying a place there.
Fullback (1/0/1): Roosevelt Nix
Bowen’s Analysis: The value of Nix on special teams helps his cause, along with the Colts clearly wanting to involve a fullback in their offense.
Wide Receivers (11/6/6): Parris Campbell, Ashton Dulin, Reece Fountain, DeMichael Harris*, T.Y. Hilton, Marcus Johnson, Zach Pascal, Dezmon Patmon*, Michael Pittman*, Artavis Scott, Chad Williams
Bowen’s Analysis: Four spots are a lock at wide receiver: Hilton, Campbell, Pittman, Pascal. We will go with 6 for the entire group here. Dulin was a strong special teams presence as an undrafted rookie last season. Given the uncertainty of this season, and the desire to go with guys that have proven themselves/who you trust more on the 53-man roster, I’m taking Johnson over Fountain and Patmon (both draft picks I’d like to get on the practice squad). Fountain needs to show consistency and some special teams ability to secure a spot.
Tight Ends (6/4/3): Mo Alie-Cox, Ian Bunting, Trey Burton, Jack Doyle, Farrod Green*, Xavier Grimble
Bowen’s Analysis: I’m probably a number short here, considering how much Frank Reich likes to use this position. But there’s not a lot of definite answers behind Jack Doyle. You hope Trey Burton can stay healthy. You hope Mo Alie-Cox takes another step. I think you can get by with 3 tight ends.
Offensive Line (13/8/9): Anthony Castonzo, Le’Raven Clark, Andrew Donnal, Jake Eldrenkamp, Mark Glowinski, Chaz Green, Brandon Hitner, Ryan Kelly, Carter O’Donnell*, Quenton Nelson, Javon Patterson, Danny Pinter*, Braden Smith
Bowen’s Analysis: You’ve got to put one UDFA somewhere on here, right? Well, how about the Canadian product in O’Donnell making it 22 straight seasons the Colts have had at least one UDFA on their Week 1 roster? Backup offensive tackle is still a worry. Le’Raven Clark and O’Donnell will be my backups out at tackle. Chaz Green (7 career starts) and Andrew Donnal (6 career starts) are two guys the Colts think could be in the mix as a swing tackle. Then, we’ll go with Jake Eldrenkamp and rookie Danny Pinter beating out Javon Patterson for the interior reserve spots. Keeping 9 is not an unusual number for Chris Ballard.
Defensive Line (14/10/9): Denico Autry, Ben Banogu, DeForest Buckner, Kameron Cline*, Sheldon Day, Gerri Green, Justin Houston, Tyquan Lewis, Al-Quadin Muhammad, Tyler Stallworth, Grover Stewart, Kemoko Turay, Chris Williams*, Rob Windsor*
Bowen’s Analysis: We know this is going to be a very difficult group to cut down. I’ll go with Lewis beating out Windsor for the final spot. But if Windsor can show the ability to back up Grover Stewart, he might just make the team. Stallworth, who was signed last week, is another name to throw into the mix in the interior. The versatility of Lewis playing inside and outside (on run downs) has me putting him on the 53-man roster. Obviously, the goal would be to get Windsor to the practice squad. Some want to keep 10 defensive linemen. That’s too much for a position group that doesn’t really help you out on special teams and you’d likely have 2 inactives from that bunch every week.
Linebackers (7/6/6): Matthew Adams, Zaire Franklin, Jordan Glasgow*, Darius Leonard, Bobby Okereke, EJ Speed, Anthony Walker
Bowen’s Analysis: This is a tough group to round out. I’ll go with Glasgow as a definite core special teamer. It might come down to special teams between Adams, Franklin and Glasgow for 1-2 spots. Adams could help you out in a pinch over run-heavy teams, although Franklin is more of the special teamer. This position keeping just 6 players will raise some eyebrows, but you normally only have 2-3 playing defensively.
Cornerbacks (9/6/5): T.J. Carrie, Kenny Moore, Lafayette Pitts, Jackson Porter, Travis Reed*, Xavier Rhodes, Isaiah Rodgers*, Rock Ya-Sin, Tremon Smith
Bowen’s Analysis: The loss of Marvell Tell for 2020 has definitely opened up a roster spot at corner. Rodgers and Carrie should have their roster spots solidified with Tell opting out. Both Rodgers and Smith have intriguing return ability, so that’s something to watch.
Safeties (6/4/4): Julian Blackmon*, Malik Hooker, George Odum, Donald Rutledge*, Tavon Wilson, Khari Willis
Bowen’s Analysis: The recent signing of Wilson has this group keeping 4 safeties. Once Blackmon is healthy then you have some flexibility to play with. Of course, you don’t want to rush a guy that is so critical to your long-term future. Rutledge, an undrafted free agent, is a massive beneficiary from Rolan Milligan opting out.
Specialists (4/3/3): K-Rodrigo Blankenship*, K-Chase McLaughlin, LS-Luke Rhodes, P-Rigoberto Sanchez
Bowen’s Analysis: McLaughlin’s NFL experience gives him the edge in this kicking competition with Blankenship.