Indianapoils Colts: 20 Players on Bubble to Watch for in Final Preseason Game
The Indianapolis Colts have to cut their current roster of 75 players down to 53 by 4 p.m. on Friday. I currently think there's 48 guys on the current roster that are locks for spots. That leaves only five spots available to make the cut.
I think there are honestly 20 guys that can make an argument for those final five spots. It's going to be a tough decision for the Colts front office to cut the roster down to the max 53 players.
Currently, this is the breakdown of players per position I think are locks:
QB: 2 (Luck, Stanton)
RB: 3 (Brown, Carter, Ballard)
WR: 5 (Wayne, Collie, Avery, Hilton, Brazill)
TE: 4 (Fleener, Allen, Miller, Smith)
LT: 2 (Castonzo, Foster)
LG: 2 (Reitz, Olsen)
C: 1 (Satele)
RG: 2 (McGlynn, Tepper)
RT: 2 (Justice, Linkenbach)
P: 1 (McAfee)
K: 1 (Vinatieri)
LS: 1 (Snow)
DE: 4 (Redding, Moala, Nevis, Matthews)
DT: 3 (Johnson, Chapman, Anunoby)
OLB: 5 (Mathis, Freeney, Hughes, Fugger, Addison)
MLB: 4 (Conner, Freeman, Angerer, Lloyd)
CB: 4 (Davis, Powers, Vaughn, Gordy)
FS: 1 (Bethea)
SS: 1 (Zbikowski)
Last year, the Colts' depth chart looked like this by positions:
RB: 5 (two fullbacks)
Obviously, the Colts changed coaches and schemes, but I feel they will keep somewhat of a similar model. Questions are, obviously, do you want to carry three quarterbacks on a roster, how many running backs or receivers do they want to keep and what about the secondary?
These are my 20 players right now on the bubble that can either play their way on the team in the last preseason game against Cincinnati on Thursday or play their way off.
QB: Chandler Harnish
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The Colts have their franchise quarterback who will get all the snaps unless an unforeseen injury happens. With that being said, do they really need to waste a roster spot they desperately need elsewhere?
Drew Stanton is clearly the backup to Andrew Luck, but Chandler Harnish has played well enough to make this roster.
Harnish was Mr. Irrelevant in this past April's draft, and it looked like he would be an easy cut. He's actually completed 58.1 percent of his passes, as he's 18-for-31 with 244 yards, one touchdown and one interception.
He has a strong enough arm to hang in the NFL and is playing better than any quarterback that was on the 2011 Indianapolis Colts.
His spot will be based off of do they want to keep three quarterbacks?
RB: Mewelde Moore
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Mewelde Moore was brought in to be the short-yardage veteran back. So far, he's only played in one game, as he's been banged up and didn't produce in the game he played.
Moore currently has four total rushing yards this preseason on two attempts. I think he's fallen all the way down to fourth on the depth chart behind Donald Brown, Delone Carter and Vick Ballard.
Last year, the Colts only kept three running backs, so do they really want to keep a fourth that won't play much?
Moore will only make this final 53-man roster if he's healthy and if they want a veteran voice.
RB: Darren Evans
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Darren Evans has an outside shot of making the team, but it doesn't look likely. Evans got some playing time of the Colts the last couple of seasons when other backs went down with injury. Right now, he's the fourth of fifth option, and I don't think they keep him.
Evans will most likely be put on the practice squad and play the same role as he has the previous two seasons. He doesn't have bad stats this preseason, as he has 45 yards on 17 carries and two touchdowns, but it was the fumble against St. Louis in the first preseason game that may have the coaching staff worried.
Evans needs to stick out against Cincinnati on Thursday night.
RB: Deji Karim
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Deji Karim is in the same situation as Darren Evans, as those two are not just battling for a final running back spot on the active 53-man roster, but could be battling for a practice squad spot as well.
Karim and Evans split the carries in the preseason with the second and third unit, as Karim has rushed for 37 yards on 11 attempts. He's yet to put the ball in the end zone even though Evans has twice, but he hasn't fumbled either.
I think Karim and Evans will have a great battle on Thursday night.
WR: Kris Adams
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The wide receiver spot is something that's been pleasantly surprising for Indianapolis this preseason. It has five locks to make the roster, and that's as many that made the team last season.
Austin Collie's health is a main concern, as I think two guys are battling for the sixth spot on the receiving core and a solid pick on the team if Collie can't play.
Kris Adams has looked great in practice and is in the running. Unfortunately, he's hid a bit on the field in game action, as he only has three receptions for 35 yards in three games.
If he wants to make the roster, or at least a practice squad spot, he better show up and have a big night on Thursday.
WR: Griff Whalen
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The other guy going for that sixth receiver spot is Griff Whalen. I think he's the front-runner, as he's come from nowhere to lead the Colts in receiving this preseason.
Whalen is an undrafted free agent pickup out of Stanford. He'd be a wise choice to keep since he was one of Luck's receiver targets at Stanford.
Whalen has great hands, decent speed and a great motor to get open. It seems like when the Colts need a big play this preseason, Whalen is there for a big reception.
The rookie has 12 receptions for 125 yards and a touchdown. I think he's going to be a tough guy to cut ties with and wouldn't be surprised if the Colts carry six receivers on the active 53-man roster so no one else gets him.
C: A.Q. Shipley
With Samson Satele taking the snaps at center, it really doesn't make any sense to keep two on the roster. I think Indianapolis has nine locks on the offensive line front right now, as it only kept eight last season.
Shipley is the first offensive lineman off right now and needs to battle tough and show he deserves a spot Thursday night. If not, Shipley will surely be a center on the practice squad.
DE: James Aiono
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The Colts have four defensive ends right now ahead of James Aiono, and he's going to be right on the bubble up until the game on Thursday.
Aiono only has three tackles, with one of them being solo this preseason.
If he makes the roster, he will be behind Cory Redding, Fili Moala, Drake Nevis and Ricardo Matthews on the depth chart.
His spot on the active roster all depends on Redding's health.
DT: Jason Shirley
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Jason Shirley is entering his third season in the NFL out of Fresno State. He's battling for a spot on this team at defensive end with Aiono. Aiono has three tackles, while Shirley has two.
I think this spot will come down to play against Cincinnati Thursday night. Both are battling for the fifth option on the depth chart.
I think the will keep one of them, and who plays the best Thursday will get it.
OLB: Jerry Brown
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Jerry Brown is a 6'4", 265-pound rookie out of Illinois. He's right on the outside battling with four guys I believe for a final spot on the Colts at linebacker.
Brown has nine tackles this preseason, with six of them being solo.
He's fast, but big, and isn't afraid to hit guys. He's sixth this preseason on tackles, so his play Thursday may keep him on the active roster.
OLB: Justin Hickman
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Justin Hickman and Jerry Brown are both battling for the final outside linebacker spot if they chose to keep one more. Both are trying to get Mario Harvey for Dwight Freeney's backup.
Hickman only has two tackles compared to Brown's nine. Hickman needs a great game on Thursday night to be in consideration for a spot on this team.
MLB: Moise Fokou
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Moise Fokou is entering his fourth season in the NFL trying to make a middle linebacker spot on the Colts. Fokou has had a great preseason in having eight tackles, with five of them being solo.
Fokou is battling with Jerrell Freeman for the starting spot in the middle linebacking position while Pat Angerer is out, and I think he is definitely in one of the final five roster spots.
Fokou needs a big game still on Thursday, but I think he may be OK.
MLB: Mario Harvey
Mario Harvey has been in the NFL one season and is now on the bubble to make this Colts team. He's on the outside looking in right now I believe, but could make a strong argument.
Harvey needs a big game on Thursday night, as he has eight tackles this preseason. Only one tackle, though, is solo, so I need to see more of him flying at the ball and making his own tackles.
Harvey has the ability, but he needs to do better with stopping the run. He will have a shot in the second half against the Bengals. He needs to really show up, though.
SS: Jermale Hines
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The Colts kept three strong safeties last season. This season, I think only Zbikowski is a lock. Jermale Hines is currently second on the depth chart and could easily make this roster if he plays well Thursday.
I'd like to see Hines do a better job in coverage and close to the ball quicker. He only has two tackles, though, and needs to have a big game to prove his worth.
SS: David Caldwell
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David Caldwell made the team last year and is on the bubble right now. He's battling with Hines for what I believe is one of the final roster spots.
I don't think the Colts will keep both Caldwell and Hines on the roster to start the season. Caldwell has experience, but only has four tackles this preseason.
The battle on Thursday night between the two should be good.
FS: Joe Lefeged
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Joe Lefeged is right now the backup to Antoine Bethea. He played some safety last season for the Colts, but didn't get to play free safety, as Bethea was the one and only they kept.
I don't see the Colts keeping two free safeties this season either, so Lefeged will need to stand out in his play to keep him Thursday night.
He only has two tackles this preseason and will get plenty of opportunity on Thursday to make this team.
FS: Mike Newton
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Mike Newton is currently listed behind Caldwell on the depth chart, but his play may be good enough to put him ahead and gain a spot on the roster.
Newton has six tackles, with four of them being solo.
I'd like to see Newton make some big plays and be a ball-hawk Thursday night. Bethea won't play much, so he will get an opportunity.
CB: D.J. Johnson
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The Colts currently have four corners that will make the team. Last year, they kept five. That means there's one spot open, and I think there's three guys going for it.
D.J. Johnson is one of them, as he has five tackles this preseason. He needs to show he can cover tightly in man coverage and make some plays.
Thursday will make or break the corners, as Cincinnati has a good young quarterback in Andy Dalton and some good backups. Johnson will have a shot to show us he can make the team Thursday night.
CB: Justin King
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Justin King has been the main starter opposite Jerraud Powers all preseason. The Colts, though, haven't seen enough to keep him there as they've traded for two starters to take his spot.
That puts King on the bubble and battling with Johnson for the final spot.
King has six tackles this preseason, and it's going to come down to the final game that will make or break his season on making this team.
CB: Korey Lindsey
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Corey Lindsey has a lot to prove on Thursday, as he's trying to pass Johnson and King to make the roster.
Lindsey has six tackles this preseason and needs a big game in the secondary to make one of the final roster spots.