Indianapolis Colts: Immediate 53-Man Roster Cut Predictions Post Bengals Game
The Indianapolis Colts have finally finished the preseason, but before they can get ready for their Week 1 matchup against the Denver Broncos, the coaching staff has to trim to the roster down to just 53 players.
After a 35-7 loss to the Cincinnati Bengals, the Colts finished 0-4 for the preseason, but those four games gave the coaches a lot of time to look at some of the players fighting for roster spots. The Colts now have until 4 p.m. ET on Saturday to make their final cuts, trimming the roster from 75 down to 53.
Now that the preseason is done, players will have to wait and see if they'll survive the final cuts. A number of undrafted players have made statements the past few weeks, while several veterans have struggled and could lose their spots to these younger players.
Having said that, let's take a look at predictions for the final 53-man roster after the loss to the Bengals.
1. Andrew Luck
2. Matt Hasselbeck
Projected Cuts: Chandler Harnish
The pecking order has been established at quarterback all preseason, but it's unclear if Chandler Harnish will make the final roster. Andrew Luck has yet to miss a game in his NFL career, meaning that the Colts might be willing to have just one backup behind him.
Matt Hasselbeck won't be playing much longer at 38 years old, but he still looks like a reliable backup. The Colts could keep him as the No. 2 guy and move Harnish back to the practice squad for another season. However, Harnish hasn't done anything to prove he's a capable backup, at least this preseason.
3. Dan Herron
4. Zurlon Tipton
Projected Cuts: David Fluellen
Running back is a big question mark for the Colts this season. Trent Richardson averaged just 2.9 yards per carry last season, while Ahmad Bradshaw was forced to miss the majority of last season with a neck injury and has struggled to stay on the field over his career.
Because of the uncertainty at the position, the Colts might consider keeping four running backs on the active roster. Dan Herron has had a very impressive preseason, running for 112 yards on 22 carries this preseason. Zurlon Tipton hasn't been bad as well, doing a good job of making opposing players miss.
The Colts may consider four running backs, but they also might send Tipton to the practice squad and move him to the active roster if someone gets hurt.
1. Reggie Wayne
2. T.Y. Hilton
3. Hakeem Nicks
4. Donte Moncrief
5. Griff Whalen
6. Da'Rick Rogers
Projected Cuts: Josh Lenz, Ryan Lankford
Wide receiver may very well be the Colts' deepest position this season, and they have some impressive talent at the top. Reggie Wayne is returning from a torn ACL, T.Y. Hilton is looking to have another breakout season and Hakeem Nicks is looking to establish himself once again after such a promising start with the New York Giants.
Even the backups look like they could contribute for Indianapolis. Donte Moncrief looks like he's ready to play right away, while Griff Whalen and Da'Rick Rogers already proved themselves at the end of last season.
However, the Colts may decided to keep only five receivers to open up another spot, and that could lead to a decision between Whalen and Rogers. Regardless, it doesn't seem likely that Josh Lenz or Ryan Lankford will make the cut.
1. Dwayne Allen
2. Coby Fleener
3. Jack Doyle
Projected Cuts: Weslye Saunders, Erik Swoope
After missing all of last season, the Colts are excited to have Dwayne Allen back in the offense this season. With both Allen and Coby Fleener, the Colts will be able to run a wide variety of sets, and that could help the running game with some additional blockers in the box.
Jack Doyle and Weslye Saunders have been fighting for the third and likely the final tight end spot on the depth chart. Frankly, Doyle has looked better, especially in the passing game. He'll more than likely get the job over Saunders, while Erik Swoope will potentially move to the practice squad as he makes the transition from basketball to football.
1. Anthony Castonzo
2. Matt Hall
1. Jack Mewhort
2. Joe Reitz
1. Khaled Holmes
2. Thomas Austin
3. Jonotthan Harrison
1. Hugh Thornton
1. Gosder Cherilus
2. Xavier Nixon
Projected Cuts: FN Lutz, Josh Walker, Lance Louis
Depth is a big concern for the Colts on the offensive line, especially after injuries to Donald Thomas and Khaled Holmes. Since they can only keep a finite number of offensive lineman on the active roster, I'd expect the Colts to keep some of their more versatile players.
Both Joe Reitz and Xavier Nixon can move around a bit, making them valuable players the Colts likely can't afford to cut. Matt Hall came in as an undrafted free agent, but he's held his own. According to Pro Football Focus (subscription required), Hall was tied for the second-best pass-blocking grade behind Anthony Castonzo before Thursday night's game.
Because of the ankle injury Holmes suffered earlier this preseason, they may likely keep two centers behind him. Jonotthan Harrison has done well when called upon all things considered, but Thomas Austin is the more experienced player.
1. Cory Redding
2. Ricky Jean Francois
1. Josh Chapman
2. Montori Hughes
1. Arthur Jones
2. Zach Kerr
Projected Cuts: Tyler Hoover, Gannon Conway, Nnamdi Obukwelu
After a full preseason, the defensive line actually looks like the second-deepest position for the Colts, with some solid players at each position.
Cory Redding is the vocal leader of the defense and is looking to have another solid season after playing quite well in 2013. Ricky Jean Francois, who saw significant time as well last year, will be Redding's backup, meaning that the Colts will almost always have a reliable option at defensive end.
At nose tackle, Josh Chapman will finally get the opportunity he's been looking for as the starter. He saw his first action last season but didn't get a ton of time on the field. Now, with fans expecting big things from him, he'll have the chance to step up. Montori Hughes will likely be the backup while Brandon McKinney is one of the fringe players, but he hasn't done anything to prove he should make the cut.
Newly acquired free agent Arthur Jones could end up being an impact starter at defensive tackle, but it looks like he also has some help behind him. Undrafted free agent Zach Kerr has been a huge surprise this preseason, holding his own against the run and even generating some pressure on opposing quarterbacks.
1a. D'Qwell Jackson
1b. Jerrell Freeman
2. Henoc Muamba
3. Josh McNary
1. Erik Walden
2. Jonathan Newsome
3. Andy Studebaker
1. Robert Mathis
2. Bjoern Werner
3. Cam Johnson
Projected Cuts: Phillip Hunt, Rob Ruggiero, Kelvin Sheppard
The Colts now have some options at inside linebacker after a promising preseason from Henoc Muamba, the former CFL player. With his emergence, it might put the pressure on Kelvin Sheppard. The Colts traded Jerry Hughes to the Buffalo Bills for Sheppard, but he has failed to produce since, including this preseason. He might stay on the roster, but if it were me making the call, I'd cut ties with the 26-year-old.
Erik Walden will be setting the edge for the Colts, but they have a promising young option behind him in Jonathan Newsome, who was able to get a sack against the Bengals. Coming out of Ball State, he'll be trying to get better and potentially be Walden's replacement. Andy Studebaker is listed behind them, but he'll be used mostly on special teams.
Rushing the passer could be a problem this season with Robert Mathis serving a four-game suspension, but Bjoern Werner has looked much better this preseason than he did in his rookie year. Cam Johnson likely won't be used much, but he'll likely make the roster because of his athleticism.
1. Vontae Davis
2. Greg Toler
3. Darius Butler
4. Josh Gordy
5. Loucheiz Purifoy
1. LaRon Landry
2. Sergio Brown
1. Mike Adams
2. Colt Anderson
Projected Cuts: Sheldon Price, Dewey McDonald, Delano Howell (to IR)
If healthy, the Colts have some help at cornerback, but that could change in a hurry. Greg Toler has failed to stay healthy throughout his career, missing seven games in his first season with the Colts and 33 games since entering the NFL in 2009.
Darius Butler and Josh Gordy's jobs are likely safe, leaving one spot between Loucheiz Purifoy and Sheldon Price. While Price has been with the Colts since last year, Purifoy should take the job because of his contributions both on defense and special teams this preseason.
Safety is a much bigger immediate concern. Antoine Bethea is gone and now Delano Howell has a neck injury. According to ESPN's Mike Wells, Howell's injury isn't career threatening, but since there haven't been any other updates, I can't picture the injury being insignificant. Neck injuries are serious, and Howell could end up on injured reserve before the season begins.
That leaves LaRon Landry and Mike Adams as the starters with Sergio Brown and Colt Anderson as the likely backups. Considering the talent at safety available in both free agency and the draft this offseason, Ryan Grigson will get a fair share of criticism if the unit struggles in 2014.
Kicker: Adam Vinatieri
Punter: Pat McAfee
Long Snapper: Matt Overton
There's no question about who the specialists will be in 2014. Even at 41 years old, Adam Vinatieri is still a valuable kicker, making 35 of his 40 field goals last season. Meanwhile, punter Pat McAfee has looked terrific this preseason, averaging 46.8 yards per punt with nine of his 16 attempts landing within the 20-yard line.
Rounding out the specialists is Matt Overton, the consistent long snapper who went to the Pro Bowl in 2013. Special teams is an underrated part of football, and the Colts are lucky to have such a consistent group.