The Indianapolis Colts front office, coaching staff and fans have now seen two weeks of progress from the overhauled roster after a convincing win over St. Louis in the first week of the preseason and this week's loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers.
As playing time begins to evaporate for guys competing for roster spots, it will become increasingly easier to predict the final roster.
Today, it's clear there are a few locks, several interesting battles and perhaps some glaring weaknesses that the team must address by looking at free agents and practice-squad depth.
QB (3): Andrew Luck, Drew Stanton, Chandler Harnish
Analysis: This may be the easiest call on the roster. The only question mark is whether the team keeps Harnish on the roster or moves him to the practice squad. At this moment, my money is that he'll make the roster and will be the third QB on gameday.
OL (10): Samson Satele, A.Q. Shipley, Winston Justice, Mike McGlynn, Seth Olsen, Anthony Castonzo, Joe Reitz, Mike Tepper, Jeff Linkenbach, George Foster
Analysis: This is a much tougher group to gauge due to their inconsistency and injuries. Losing Ben Ijalana for the year threw a wrench into the team's plans. Winston Justice hasn't been convincing yet, and as a whole, the group will likely struggle to become average.
WR (6): Reggie Wayne, T.Y.Hilton, Donnie Avery, LaVon Brazill, Kris Adams, Quan Cosby
Analysis: At this point, Donnie Avery is sliding down the depth chart due to his injury. He's had a career riddled with injuries. If he can't get on the field, he doesn't get a spot.
I also doubt the team carries seven receivers, and Kris Adams and Quan Cosby are hardly a locks with Griff Whalen and Jeremy Ross in the mix. There's considerable room for movement among the receivers in the final two preseason games.
Austin Collie likely will land on injured reserve after his latest concussion.
TE (4): Coby Fleener, Dwayne Allen, Dominique Jones, Andre Smith
Analysis: After Fleener and Allen, the team is thin at tight end. There aren't great options, but they'd like to have some comfort here as they want to run two tight-end sets frequently.
I wonder if Ryan Grigson will regret releasing Brody Eldridge. It wouldn't shock me if the team looks for help here to run their two-tight end sets. In the first week, we saw Jones in the backfield at times, which leads me to believe he will get a spot.
RB (4): Donald Brown, Vick Ballard, Mewelde Moore, Delone Carter
Analysis: I see the Colts carrying four backs on the roster with Vick Ballard potentially winning the backup spot. Ballard has been impressive so far, as has Moore on occasion. Carter rounds out the group. Behind Brown, this is a wide-open competition, so this could change at any moment.
DL (6): Antonio Johnson, Brandon McKinney, Cory Redding, Ricardo Mathews, Fili Moala, Drake Nevis
Analysis: Due to the conversion to the 3-4 defense, this is a group in transition. It's clear the team is going to need great play at linebacker to make up for the learning curve and talent gap here on the DL.
Josh Chapman needs to get healthy; he's a quality prospect at NT, but perhaps a stint on the practice squad is in order.
OLB (5): Dwight Freeney, Robert Mathis, Jerry Hughes, Mario Addison, Tim Fugger
Analysis: This is a bright spot defensively for the Colts. Addison and Hughes have shown real sparks. It's possible for rookie Fugger to get some action this year as they prepare the deal with Dwight Freeney's inevitable departure. He could also land on the practice squad with Greg Lloyd making the grade.
ILB (4): Pat Angerer, Kavell Conner, Jerrell Freeman, Moise Fokou
Analysis: With Pat Angerer's foot injury, there's a battle to replace him in the short-term. Both Freeman and Fokou had good camps and have show a propensity to play well. Kavell Conner may have a breakout year as well.
DB (8): Antoine Bethea, Tom Zbikowski, Jerraud Powers, Latarrius Thomas, Cassius Vaughn, Justin King, D.J. Johnson, Josh Gordy
Analysis: This group makes my head hurt. There's clearly not enough talent on the roster, so I fully expect GM Ryan Grigson to address that issue after we see some roster cuts and practice-squad moves. They need more help at safety and more talent at corner.
I'm fairly certain this group will change even after the season starts, as is ESPN's Paul Kuharsky. At this point, there are still roster spots in my opinion that will be filled by those not currently on the roster. Colts Authority's Kyle Wilson has some ideas as to who the team may target.
ST (3): Pat McAfee, Adam Vinatieri, Justin Snow
Analysis: No shocker here. All three men have been reliable, steady mainstays of special teams for years. I doubt anything changes here other than continuing to rest Vinatieri's leg for the regular season.
The 2012 Indianapolis Colts roster will certainly not match this projection after injuries and position battles consume a few spots. The picture is, however, becoming increasingly clear that the offensive line and secondary will be weaknesses for the upcoming season.
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