Main takeaways after Colts get to 53? They’re a young group and need another QB


(Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images)

INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. – The NFL’s deadline to slash rosters to 53 has come and gone. More than 1,100 players were waived, released or otherwise moved to one of the league’s many reserve lists.

The Indianapolis Colts made their required moves, but don’t think for a second Chris Ballard and his personnel staff are done.

You noticed, of course, there’s only one quarterback – Jacoby Brissett – on the roster, right? They’ll be another before the team hits the practice field Sunday afternoon in its first preparation for the Sept. 8 opener against the Chargers in Los Angeles.

Speaking of quarterbacks, here’s a stunner, or a downer. For the first time since Aug. 31, 1997, the Colts’ opening-day roster will not include someone named Peyton Manning. Or Andrew Luck. Let that sink in.

Another quarterback, though, won’t be the only addition to the roster. The Colts could use an upgrade at backup offensive tackle, although teams rarely get rid of viable tackles. And keep in mind the Colts are 26th in the waiver-claim order, which will make things even more difficult.

In other words, stay tuned.

A few takeaways from the current 53:

Youth is served: Nearly half the roster – 25 of 53 – is 24 or younger; 16 players are 23 or younger. Adam Vinatieri is just the fourth player in NFL history to play at age 46. Parris Campbell and Nyheim Hines, each 22, weren’t born when Vinny made his NFL debut for the Patriots Sept. 1, 1996.

Eight rookies survived the initial cut. That includes draft picks Rock Ya-Sin, Ben Banogu, Parris Campbell, Bobby Okereke, Khari Willis, E.J. Speed and Marvell Tell III, and undrafted rookie Hale Hentges. If Hentges sticks for the opener – we’ve learned nothing is a given in the NFL – the Colts’ streak of having an undrafted rookie make the opening-day roster hits 21, the league’s longest streak.

Elder statesmen: Led by Vinny, the Colts are carrying only four players 30 or older. The others: Anthony Castonzo, 31, Jabaal Sheard, 30, and Justin Houston, 30. T.Y. Hilton hits the big Three-Oh Nov. 14.

Caught in the draft(s): Ballard primarily is building the roster through the draft. He’s invested 29 picks in his three drafts, and 22 hold down spots on the active roster. Two others are on IR: Reece Fountain and Javon Patterson.

Hangin’ Around: The NFL doesn’t favor longevity, especially when there are regime changes. Consider only 11 players pre-date Ballard’s arrival. The short list: Vinatieri, Castonzo, T.Y. Hilton, Jack Doyle, Clayton Geathers, Ryan Kelly, Joe Haeg, Chris Milton, Luke Rhodes, Le’Raven Clark and Chester Rogers.

A rundown of how it stands:


(* – denotes rookie)

Quarterback (1): Jacoby Brissett.

Comment: So, QB2 isn’t here yet. Might that be a veteran (Brock Osweiler, Matt Cassel, Brandon Weeden, Brian Hoyer)? Or someone off the waiver wire? This is why Chris Ballard gets the big bucks.

Running back (4): Marlon Mack, Nyheim Hines, Jordan Wilkins, Jonathan Williams.

Comment: No surprises. The only question is whether Wilkins (foot) and/or Williams (rib) will be ready for Sept. 8.

Wide receiver (6): T.Y. Hilton, Devin Funchess, Deon Cain, Chester Rogers, Zach Pascal, Parris Campbell*.

Comment: One of the deepest groups in recent memory. Campbell’s debut in Cincy was impressive.

Tight end (4): Jack Doyle, Eric Ebron, Mo Alie-Cox, Hale Hentges*.

Comment: Another deep, diverse group. Hentges probably got the edge over Ross Travis for his blocking/receiving skills. Travis was more of a receiving tight end and had an uneven preseason.

Offensive line (8): Anthony Castonzo, Quenton Nelson, Ryan Kelly, Mark Glowinski, Braden Smith, Joe Haeg, Josh Andrews, Le’Raven Clark.

Comment: Let me repeat what I’ve been saying. Love the starters, not so much the backups save for Haeg. Would like to see Ballard find a viable swing tackle on the waiver wire, but teams just don’t dump decent tackles.


Line (10): Jabaal Sheard, Justin Houston, Margus Hunt, Denico Autry, Tyquan Lewis, Kemoko Turay, Al-Quadin Muhammad, Grover Stewart, Ben Banogu*, Jihad Ward.

Comment: Coordinator Matt Eberflus is all about attacking in waves. Ten bodies allow him to do that, although I wonder if one of these guys is expendable when a backup QB is added.

Linebackers (6): Darius Leonard, Anthony Walker, Bobby Okereke*, E.J. Speed*, Zaire Franklin, Matthew Adams.

Comment: Can’t get over how young this group is. The oldest of the bunch? Speed, the fifth-round draft pick. Roughly two months older than Walker, who’s heading into his third season.

Cornerbacks (6): Pierre Desir, Kenny Moore II, Quincy Wilson, Rock Ya-Sin*, Chris Milton, Marvell Tell III*.

Comment: Another deep, deep position. Lots of flexibility for Eberflus in his sub packages.

Safety (5): Malik Hooker, Clayton Geathers, Khari Willis*, George Odom, Rolan Milligan.

Comment: Keeping five at this spot surprised us, but keep in mind the roster is fluid.


Kicker (1): Adam Vinatieri.

Punter (1): Rigoberto Sanchez.

Long-snapper (1): Luke Rhodes.

Comment: None needed.

You can follow Mike Chappell on Twitter at @mchappell51

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