INDIANAPOLIS – Final roster cuts are nearing.
Rosters need to be trimmed to 80 by Tuesday, with the final roster cuts to 53 coming next Tuesday.
That leaves just 3 remaining training camp practices at Grand Park this week plus one last preseason game this Saturday to make an impression on the coaching staff.
Here is a 53-man roster projection (number of players currently on the roster, numbers of players being kept, numbers of players kept there last year) heading into Saturday’s preseason opener:
Quarterbacks (4/3/2): Jack Coan*, Sam Ehlinger, Nick Foles, Matt Ryan
Bowen’s Analysis: I would probably feel comfortable exposing Ehlinger to waivers, but I think the Colts love for him (from higher ups in the organization) means he will be on the 53-man roster. A team would really have to be all-in on Ehlinger—in two preseason games against back end of the roster guys—to put in a late August claim. Ehlinger is QB3 this year, but has shown some signs he can be a backup moving forward. One additional thing to note on Ehlinger, the Colts are currently in a pretty good health spot entering roster cuts, which could allow for a stashing type move like this one.
Running Backs (7/4/4): Nyheim Hines, Deon Jackson, Phillip Lindsay, D’Vonte Price*, Jonathan Taylor, C.J. Verdell*, Ty’Son Williams
Bowen’s Analysis: Lindsay is easily the 3rd running back. I’ll put Jackson on the 53-man roster purely for special teams. His roster spot, for me, opened up when Drew Ogletree tore his ACL.
Wide Receivers (12/6/6): Parris Campbell, Keke Coutee, Ashton Dulin, DeMichael Harris, Ethan Fernea*, D.J. Montgomery, Samson Nacua*, Dezmon Patmon, Alec Pierce*, Michael Pittman, Mike Strachan, Michael Young*
Bowen’s Analysis: Some more changes here for me. Remember, I like diversifying the skillsets within the receiver position (i.e. I don’t need a ton of big guys in that room). With Mike Strachan back and healthy, he’s shown be enough to put him on the 53-man roster and then try to get Dezmon Patmon onto the practice squad. One thing to keep in mind with the Strachan/Patmon duo, I have yet to see any true special teams impact? Coutee is dealing with a groin injury, but I still like him on the team for Parris Campbell insurance.
Tight Ends (5/3/3): Mo Alie-Cox, Kylen Granson, Michael Jacobson, Nikola Kalinic, Jelani Woods*
Bowen’s Analysis: With Drew Ogletree on injured reserve, that brings some more debate into the Colts keeping a 4th tight end. I don’t see the need, unless that guy can greatly help you on special teams. I would put Michael Jacobson or Nikola Kalinic on the practice squad.
Offensive Line (14/8/8): Ryan Ven Damark*, Wesley French*, Will Fries, Dennis Kelly, Ryan Kelly, Alex Mollette*, Jordan Murray, Quenton Nelson, Danny Pinter, Matt Pryor, Bernhard Raimann*, Josh Seltzner*, Braden Smith
Bowen’s Analysis: I don’t feel very good about the depth of this group. It’s very unproven, with Dennis Kelly being sidelined for the bulk of camp following a knee procedure. For Chris Ballard, 8 offensive linemen is too small of a number, so I’ll go with a waiver wire move here to open up another spot.
Defensive Line (15/10/11): Ben Banogu, Curtis Brooks*, DeForest Buckner, Kameron Cline, Byron Cowart, Bryan Cox, Eric Johnson*, Tyquan Lewis, R.J. McIntosh, Yannick Ngakoue, Dayo Odeyingbo, Ifeadi Odeingbo, Kwity Paye, Grover Stewart, Chris Williams
Bowen’s Analysis: Again, whittling down this position group has been difficult. Keeping 10 for a long stretch is a bit unlikely, but I’ll go with that for my initial number at defensive line. Out of Banogu, Cline and Odeingbo, I’m going with 2 of those 3 guys on my current 53-man roster. I could see another one of them cut though for an interior option. It’s a shame Williams and McIntosh have missed valuable time due to injury. Cline getting hurt this week (concussion) might impact some things. Banogu hasn’t done much in the preseason, but he seems to run consistently with the 2nd unit.
Linebackers (9/7/6): JoJo Domann*, Zaire Franklin, Brandon King, Darius Leonard, Bobby Okereke, Forrest Rhyne*, James Skalski*, EJ Speed, Sterling Weatherford*
Bowen’s Analysis: Ever since the spring, I’ve gone with the undrafted free agent in Domann to make the team. He has missed the past week of practice due to an undisclosed injury though. There might be room for another undrafted linebacker, and I really like what Weatherford has shown lately. King is thought to be a special teams guy, more so than helping at linebacker, although he did injure his hamstring this past Saturday. Leonard’s lingering health situation could be a factor here, too. Could he remain on the physically unable to perform list to start the season, thus opening up a roster spot?
Cornerbacks (11/5/7): Tony Brown, Anthony Chesley, Brandon Facyson, Dallis Flowers*, Stephon Gilmore, Kenny Moore, Alexander Myres, Isaiah Rodgers, Marvell Tell, Chris Wilcox
Bowen’s Analysis: I don’t have a ton of debate here, but Tony Brown is starting to get me thinking a little more. Getting Flowers on the practice squad is something to explore.
Safeties (8/4/3): Julian Blackmon, Nick Cross*, Marcel Dabo*, Trevor Denbow*, Rodney McLeod, Will Redmond, Rodney Thomas*
Bowen’s Analysis: I don’t feel like Thomas, a 7th round pick in 2022, is a lock to make this team. Having just 9 defensive backs seems a number to small, but if you want to keep Ehlinger you have to pinch somewhere else. Is Watts going to make it for special teams? The Colts have the international player exemption with Dabo.
Specialists (4/3/3): K-Rodrigo Blankenship, LS-Luke Rhodes, P-Rigoberto Sanchez, K-Jake Verity
Bowen’s Analysis: Blankenship has won whatever battle there was with Verity.