Injuries complicating matters as Colts eye roster cuts

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Vontae Davis (Photo: Charles Trainor Jr./Miami Herald/TNS via Getty Images)

INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. – As if paring the roster from 90 to 75 and finally to 53 isn’t difficult enough, imagine the conundrum facing the Indianapolis Colts.

Injuries, most short-term in severity, undoubtedly will further complicate the whittling process for coach Chuck Pagano and general manager Ryan Grigson.

“It certainly muddies the water a little bit because you’d love to have everybody healthy and everybody participating and getting a true evaluation on everybody,’’ Pagano said Tuesday. “But that’s not the case.’’

Not even close.

The 90-player preseason roster must be trimmed to 75 next Tuesday, then to the 53-man limit Sept. 3.

The challenge awaiting the Colts is settling on their 53 – and keeping the proper mix at each position – knowing full well several players probably won’t be ready for the Sept. 11 opener against Detroit.

Consider the list of prominent players whose rehab might keep them out of the Lions game:

  • Cornerback Vontae Davis with a medial sprain to his right ankle. He might miss the first month of the season.
  • Defensive end Kendall Langford, who had arthroscopic knee surgery earlier this month to address a “chondral defect.’’
  • Defensive tackle Henry Anderson, who just was moved from PUP to the active roster in his on-going return from major knee surgery. He practiced for the first time Tuesday.
  • Safety Clayton Geathers, who broke a bone in his right foot in July and still is walking around with his foot in a boot. He remains on the non-football injury list.
  • Rookie offensive lineman Joe Haeg, considered week-to-week after injuring his right foot in Saturday’s loss to Baltimore.
  • Veteran guard Hugh Thornton, who’s still out with an injury to his right foot.
  • Linebacker Sio Moore, who suffered a hamstring injury in the preseason opener at Buffalo.

And just think, the Colts still have two more preseason games to deal with, starting with Saturday against the Philadelphia Eagles at Lucas Oil Stadium.

“You’d like to have 53 guys that are all available,’’ Pagano said of his projected opening-day roster.

Again, that’s highly unlikely.

Pagano indicated Anderson “may not be ready by week 1 probably, but you still carry him’’ on the active roster.

“So, you’re down to 52. You look at the corner situation. You can look at any situation like that. It is what it is. We’ll make do.’’

With each name – Anderson, Davis, Langford, Haeg, etc. – the possible list of able-bodied players for the opener dwindles . . . 52, 51, 50, 49.

At first glance, the seven mentioned above could represent the Colts’ inactives for the Lions game. The trouble with that is each is a prominent player, and not the fifth receiver or fifth cornerback or eighth linebacker who would normally be inactive.

Options are limited when final cuts are made.

A player deemed worthy of keeping must either be on the active roster, placed on season-ending or short-term IR or, in the case of Geathers, remain on the non-football injury list. Defensive tackle Art Jones will move to the suspended list and not count against the active roster while serving his four-game suspension for violating the NFL’s performance-enhancing substances policy.

Short-term IR and allows a player to begin practicing after six weeks, but he must miss at least eight games.

If Geathers opens the season on NFI – and that’s highly unlikely, according to a team source – he would miss the first six weeks.

Pagano admitted the team is taking the approach Geathers won’t be ready for the opener.

“We’re preparing that way . . . he’s still walking around here in a boot,’’ Pagano said. “To not get someone else ready would be foolish.’’

The rehab staff, he added, “can take that (boot) off and put him on a bike and get him on a treadmill and start doing some of that stuff. But has he been on the field and back-pedaling and planting and driving and breaking and cutting, all (that) stuff? No.

“He’s not there yet.’’

The expectations for Langford and Anderson are mixed.

Although Pagano wouldn’t offer a timetable for Langford, he conceded “we’re hopefully he’ll be ready for the opener. He seems to think so. Our docs and trainers seem to think so, based on how long those usually take to come back from, a scope like that. He’s doing well.’’

The team has made it clear it won’t accelerate Anderson’s return to the lineup.

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