INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. – Just in case Chris Ballard and Frank Reich feel the need to reach out in the next couple of days, we’re here.
Their task is arriving at the best combination of 53 players – tentative, of course – for what promises to be an interesting season. After reaching the NFL-mandated 53-man limit Saturday at 4 p.m., Ballard undoubtedly will find another player or two – offensive lineman, running back, maybe a quarterback – to further adjust the roster, either via the waiver wire or veteran free agency. Shoot, don’t rule out him finding a trading partner prior to the cut deadline.
Again, we’re here if needed.
We’ve got seven of the team’s 10 draft picks sticking and eight rookies overall. The 10th: undrafted tight end Hale Hentges. That would stretch the Colts’ streak to 21 straight years an undrafted rookie making the opening day roster.
One man’s view of the 53.
(* – denotes rookie)
Quarterback (2): Jacoby Brissett, Phillip Walker.
- Comment: Don’t rule out the addition of a veteran – Brock Osweiler, Matt Cassel and Brandon Weeden worked out this week – or a waived QB. After he serves his two-game suspension, Chad Kelly deserves to be QB2, unless Reich prefers a veteran acquisition.
Running back (4): Marlon Mack, Nyheim Hines, Jordan Wilkins, Jonathan Williams.
- Comment: Wilkins is dealing with a foot injury and is a wild card. Ditto Williams, who’s been out with a rib injury. If either is viewed as a long-term situation, that player might go on IR after the cut and possibly return at mid-season. In that scenario, we keep Aca’Cedric Ware.
Wide receiver (6): T.Y. Hilton, Devin Funchess, Deon Cain, Chester Rogers, Zach Pascal, Parris Campbell*.
- Comment: Six is unusual, but you keep your best people. It’s just too bad the numbers game cost Krishawn Hogan a roster spot.
Tight end (4): Jack Doyle, Eric Ebron, Mo Alie-Cox, Hale Hentges*.
- Comment: Using NCAA Tournament jargon, Hentges is our last player in. We’re giving him the nod over Ross Travis. He’s the much better blocker and a better-than-advertised receiver.
Offensive line (9): Anthony Castonzo, Quenton Nelson, Ryan Kelly, Mark Glowinski, Braden Smith, Joe Haeg, Josh Andrews, Le’Raven Clark, Jake Eldrenkamp.
- Comment: We love the starting five. We’re not enthralled with the four backups, other than Haeg. Maybe Andrews, who clearly has beaten out Evan Boehm as Kelly’s backup at center. The o-line is a spot that could be addressed on the waiver wire, primarily a tackle. But teams seldom part ways with decent tackles.
Line (9): Jabaal Sheard, Justin Houston, Margus Hunt, Denico Autry, Tyquan Lewis, Kemoko Turay, Al-Quadin Muhammad, Grover Stewart, Ben Banogu*.
- Comment: Deep, deep, deep. Normally, Carroll Phillips would have done enough (4 sacks) to stick around. Rookie Gerri Green will benefit from practice squad experience. Might Sheard’s injury situation (knee) force Ballard to carry 10 until he’s ready?
Linebackers (6): Darius Leonard, Anthony Walker, Bobby Okereke*, E.J. Speed*, Zaire Franklin, Matthew Adams.
- Comment: The youth movement continues with rookies Okereke and Speed. The most experienced of the bunch? 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: We’re sticking with Milton because of his special teams skills and going with Tell over Jalen Collins. In our view, Collins had a very uneven camp/preseason.
Safety (4): Malik Hooker, Clayton Geathers, Khari Willis*, George Odom.
- Comment: We thought about keeping five, but opted for an extra CB. Coordinator Matt Eberflus might be better served using another corner than a safety in some of his sub packages.
SPECIAL TEAMS (3)
Kicker (1): Adam Vinatieri.
Punter (1): Rigoberto Sanchez.
Long-snapper (1): Luke Rhodes.
- Comment: C’mon, you weren’t expecting any surprises, were you?
And be sure to catch the Colts Blue Zone Podcast: