INDIANAPOLIS – The first 53-man roster is here for the Indianapolis Colts.
With the Colts having to cut down their roster to the mandated number of 53 by 4:00 on Tuesday, the rest of the week will be spent tinkering this group that will prepare for next Sunday’s season opener.
The Colts still have some further decisions to make in the injury category: WR-T.Y. Hilton (neck), QB-Sam Ehlinger (knee) and then will promote these guys off the COVID list: C-Ryan Kelly, QB-Carson Wentz, WR-Zach Pascal, OT-Eric Fisher (who falls on both of these lists). Plus, waiver claims run now through 4:00 on Wednesday, with the Colts slotted at No. 21 in the order of priority, which is based off last year’s record.
Here’s the look at the 53-man roster projection for the Colts (number of players kept at that position, number kept at that spot last year):
Quarterbacks (2/3): Jacob Eason, Sam Ehlinger*, Brett Hundley, Carson Wentz
Bowen’s Analysis: Wentz doesn’t count towards the 53-man roster because of his presence on the COVID-list. For now, the Colts are going to carry two quarterbacks, but only one of those is healthy (Eason). They have to add another QB. Yes, Wentz will get called back up to the 53-man roster soon. In my opinion though, the Colts need to carry three quarterbacks on their 53-man roster all season long, especially with Wentz not being vaccinated. Expect more movement here this week, particularly with Ehlinger likely heading to IR (to return).
Running Backs (4/4): Nyheim Hines, Deon Jackson*, Bobby LeMay, Marlon Mack, Jonathan Taylor, Jordan Wilkins
Bowen’s Analysis: This always seemed to be pretty obvious. Again, I would have Wilkins ahead of Mack on my depth chart. But you have time to let Mack continue to get back to full strength.
Wide Receivers (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: So, both young, big guys are making the team. And now the roster gymnastics begins. T.Y. Hilton is likely to go to injured reserve at some point this week, with the hope to return later this year. Zach Pascal is going to come back to the 53-man roster at some point soon, so that could take one of these WRs off the main roster. Or will Pascal and Hilton just swap spots? Harris would be a wise guy to bring to the practice squad. Patmon is still dealing with a foot injury, so his status for Week 1 isn’t yet known.
Tight Ends (3/3): Mo Alie-Cox, Jack Doyle, Kylen Granson*, Farrod Green, Jordan Thomas, Kahale Warring, Andrew Vollert
Bowen’s Analysis: Similar to running back, tight end didn’t have much camp roster drama. The Colts are keeping the main three guys.
Offensive Line (8/8): Julie’n Davenport, Jake Eldrenkamp, Eric Fisher, Will Fries*, Mark Glowinski, Will Holden, Joey Hunt, Ryan Kelly, Carter O’Donnell, Quenton Nelson, Danny Pinter, Matt Pryor, Chris Reed, Braden Smith
Bowen’s Analysis: With Ryan Kelly and Eric Fisher still on the COVID-list, the Colts had a spot or two to play with at roster cuts. That probably helped Fries make the initial 53-man roster. The Colts have a new swing tackle in Matt Pryor. On Tuesday morning, the Colts traded away a 6th round pick in 2022 to the Eagles for Pryor and a 7th round pick in 2022. Pryor (6-7, 322) has 10 career starts, all coming last year, with 6 at right guard, 3 at right tackle and 1 at left tackle. Pryor, 26, was a 6th round pick in 2018 out of TCU. Currently, the Colts have just 4 draft picks in the first 6 rounds next April, although they are expected to nab a few compensatory picks in later rounds. Whenever Fisher comes off the COVID-list, the next debate will be is he ready to be removed from PUP and placed onto the 53-man roster? That would mean he would be eligible to practice for the first time since tearing his Achilles in January. How the Colts handle Fisher (taking him off PUP or possibly putting him on IR for a few weeks) will be something to watch. Joey Hunt was cut on Tuesday. He was often times needed at center this camp with the injuries there.
Defensive Line (11/9): 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: Wow, that’s a big number of 11, especially with 5 pure defensive tackles, to go along with versatile options in Lewis and Rochell. As expected, Odeyingbo is being kept on the PUP list to start his NFL career, which will sideline him for the first 6 weeks of the season when it comes to practicing, and then the first 8 games. The defensive tackle debate was probably the most difficult of this roster cut down and the Colts kept a lot there. One would think some roster tweaking is needed there given how little those DT depth guys can add value on game day/special teams, but we know Chris Ballard loves DL depth. The Colts have room for both Banogu and Rochell, two guys who didn’t have guaranteed spots entering camp.
Linebackers (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, his value on special teams is too much to let go. Same with Adams.
Cornerbacks (7/5): T.J. Carrie, Andre Chachere, Anthony Chesley, Holton Hill, Kenny Moore, Xavier Rhodes, Isaiah Rodgers, Marvell Tell, Rock Ya-Sin
Bowen’s Analysis: The Colts ended up keeping Tell, who had an up and down camp after his opt out year. Chachere had a really strong camp and his versatility was too good for the Colts to pass up on the 53-man roster. Carrie has had a groin injury for the last few weeks, so that bears some attention.
Safeties (3/5): Julian Blackmon, Ibraheim Campbell, Sean Davis, Shawn Davis*, George Odum, Khari Willis
Bowen’s Analysis: The Colts ended up sending a message to 5th round draftee Shawn Davis by cutting him. Davis missed precious time in camp due to a hamstring injury and was very up and down when he returned to action. Davis was the only 2021 draft pick to get cut (6 others made the 53-man roster). As expected, the Colts didn’t keep an undrafted free agent. If no UDFA joins the 53-man roster by the opener, this two-decade long streak will end. The depth at safety will be aided by keeping Chachere, who showed impressive versatility during camp. He might as well be slotted in at safety.
Specialists (3/3): K-Rodrigo Blankenship, LS-Luke Rhodes, P-Rigoberto Sanchez
Bowen’s Analysis: With Eddy Pineiro getting cut last week, Hot Rod was the winner of the kicking battle.