Making the Call on Indianapolis Colts' Hardest Remaining Cuts
It's never easy, but the Indianapolis Colts must cut down their roster from 75 players all the way down to 53 in just a few days.
No one wants to root for a guy getting cut. It's obviously not good for the player, and it's something that coaches tend to say is the least favorite part of their job. At the end of the day, however, the NFL is a business, and you have to make some tough decisions sometimes.
There are a few players in particular that will likely make the coaching staff take a while to decide upon whether or not they've earned a final roster spot. These guys are usually on the cusp of making the team, and there will be plenty of debate about these guys over the next couple of days.
Let's take a look at who a few of these players are in Colts camp as we approach the final cutdown deadline.
Dominique Jones, FB/TE
This is going to be one of the more interesting decisions that the Colts make this week. Dominique Jones brings a unique skill set and can play both fullback and tight end, but there might not be room for him on the final roster.
Stanley Havili will be the starting fullback for the Colts this year. There is no question to that, but he will likely be the only fullback kept on the roster.
Things get more interesting at tight end. The Colts already have Coby Fleener and Dwayne Allen, but both have been injured this preseason. Justice Cunningham has a shot to back them up, but that spot may be actually be up for grabs between he and Jones.
As much as I like Jones' versatility, I think that the Colts will stick with Cunningham and let Jones go. Jones a versatile player, but unfortunately, there's no room for him on the team's depth chart.
Chandler Harnish, QB
One of the more interesting debates has been whether or not the Colts will keep a third quarterback on the final roster this year.
While the team used to only keep two quarterbacks in the days of Peyton Manning and Jim Sorgi, there is a completely different regime in Indy now, and they may decide on keeping a third guy.
With that being said, Harnish has struggled this preseason. He's gone just 16-for-38 with an interception, and he's just looked uncomfortable out on the field. There's still one preseason game left, but so far, Harnish has yet to impress.
While there is the possibility that Harnish stays on as the No. 3 guy, it would make more sense to keep him off the roster and instead put him on the practice squad where he could develop a bit more. With enough time to grow, he could be a sufficient backup to Andrew Luck after current No. 2 quarterback Matt Hasselbeck decides to call it quits.
Ben Ijalana, OT
It's been a really tough journey in the NFL for Ben Ijalana up to this point, and things could get even harder for him in a few days.
Ijalana has had a lot of bad luck over the past couple of seasons. The former second-round pick has torn his ACL twice, with the first one coming just four games into his rookie season. The second occurrence came during training camp just before the 2012 season.
While he has been waiting for his chance, the Colts haven't given Ijalana a lot of opportunities to play this preseason, and there are other offensive linemen that the team may decide to keep instead.
The odds aren't good for Ijalana. Other guys like Emmett Cleary and Bradley Sowell have been getting more opportunities, and both seem to be better fits at this point than Ijalana.
Drake Nevis, DT
The defensive line looks like it could be one of the bright spots on defense thanks to a lot of depth, and Drake Nevis is just one of the guys looking to find a spot in the rotation.
Nevis has played in 14 games for the Colts over the past two seasons, starting in three of them last year. During the preseason this year, he's gotten a fair amount of time on the field and even racked up two sacks against the New York Giants.
What will probably keep Nevis off of the final roster is the amount of depth along the line. Guys like Josh Chapman, Fili Moala and Montori Hughes push Nevis down the depth chart, and that's never a good sign.
The Colts will likely also let Nevis go due to the fact that he's not one of "their" guys. Nevis was drafted back before Ryan Grigson and Chuck Pagano took over, and the front office would rather go with someone they brought in over a player who was brought in by someone else.
Caesar Rayford, OLB
Coming into training camp, Caesar Rayford was a long shot to make the roster. He was a former UFL and CFL player with some tremendous physical attributes but no real experience at the NFL level.
That has quickly changed this preseason.
Rayford has done a great job the past few weeks, grabbing five sacks in three games, including two forced fumbles. At 6'7'' and 267 pounds, he's a monster that could be a nice backup behind Robert Mathis and Bjoern Werner.
While it is true that Rayford has been doing all of his damage against third-stringers, he's still looked too impressive in the preseason to keep him off of the roster. Even if he just plays on special teams, Rayford can contribute to this team.
Lawrence Sidbury was the guy that probably would have kept Rayford off of the roster, but now that he has been placed on injured reserve, the door is wide open for Rayford.