Breaking Down the Entire Indianapolis Colts Depth Chart
If you haven't quite heard yet, it's because you haven't been listening. The Indianapolis Colts have quietly become the new "America's Team." Even if you don't quite know it yet.
Following the 2-14 campaign in 2011, Indy was the epicenter of everything sports media leading up to, and following, the NFL's version of "the decision" in the eventual release of quarterback Peyton Manning. Following the release, all eyes were on who would succeed no. 18 for the horseshoe.
In 2012, after drafting quarterback Andrew Luck out of Stanford, the Colts again became the team that everyone wanted to see succeed following head coach Chuck Pagano's leukemia diagnosis. The whole country (well, maybe except for the one city in Massachusetts) wanted to see the Colts win.
And now, on the heels of an impressive 39-33 victory over the Denver Broncos and Luck's predecessor, the Colts are again receiving the national attention and high praise that is well deserved. Luck looks better than any second year quarterback this league has ever seen, and the defensive unit is finally coming into its own.
So here, coming out of the bye week, we look back so far at how the Colts got to 5-2 and where they are headed from here. Follow me as we break down the entire depth chart, front to back and left to right, and analyze how this team looks on paper through seven weeks of play.
WR Reggie Wayne, 87 (Knee)
Hands down the biggest injury the Colts have seen since Peyton Manning's neck, wide receiver Reggie Wayne tore the anterior cruciate ligament in his right knee, leaving him to be designated to the injured-reserve list. Losing Wayne means not only losing a set of sure hands, it also means the loss of a seasoned, "lead by example" veteran.
RB Vick Ballard, 33 (Knee)
Ballard, the Colts leading rusher from 2012, went down in a freak non-contact practice injury back in Week 2. Losing Ballard led to the eventual trade with the Cleveland Browns for running back Trent Richardson.
TE Dwayne Allen, 83 (Hip)
The second-year tight end out of Clemson headed to the IR following Indy's Week 1 victory over the Oakland Raiders. Allen, who had one 20-yard touchdown reception vs. the Raiders, was sidelined later in that same game with a hip injury.
RB Ahmad Bradshaw, 44 (Neck)
The one-year rental for the Indianapolis Colts, Bradshaw went on the IR on October 9 following a procedure on a neck injury sustained in the Week 4 victory over the San Francisco 49ers.
G Donald Thomas, 66 (Right Leg)
Thomas, an offseason acquisition for Indianapolis, went down with a torn quad in Indy's Week 2 loss to the Miami Dolphins. Thomas was immediately placed on the injured reserve following the game.
Andrew Luck, 12
1,574 YDS, 10 TD, 3 INT, 60.7% CMP; 28 ATT, 183 YDS, 3 TD, 6.5 AVG
No need for explanation here. Luck is the clear-cut starter for this team and has been phenomenal so far through seven games. His touchdown-to-interception ratio so far this season is much improved from last season, and his rushing stats have so far improved.
One of Luck's biggest strengths is his ability to lead. In Mike Freeman's recent feature on Luck, offensive tackle Anthony Castonzo had this to say about the second year quarterback.
He's so smart and tough, but he makes football fun again. He has this way of taking us back to our childhood when we played football because we loved it.
That right there is what gives Luck the advantage over most. His ability to make this game just that—a game. This Colts team is poised for many successful years to come if Luck continues to trend the way he has.
Matt Hasselbeck, 8
Following the debacle-turned-blessing that was the 2011 regular season, every Colts fan now knows the utmost importance of the backup quarterbacking position. A guy like Hasselbeck providing leadership and advice based on experience is invaluable to this team. It is one of the better moves general manager Ryan Grigson has made in his two years as GM.
Trent Richardson, 34
74 ATT, 228 YDS, 2 TD, 3.0 AVG
Many have criticized the Richardson trade throughout the past few weeks and, generally, with good reason. Richardson has been lackluster in his performances so far in Indy. But, is it possible the former No. 3 overall pick out of Alabama is dealing with a little "Alex Smith" syndrome?
Richardson is currently learning his third playbook since the beginning of the 2012 season (2012 Shurmur, 2013 Chudzinski, 2013 Pep Hamilton). Smith, now in Kansas City, had three head coaches and five offensive coordinators in five years. Stable coaching? The man is one of the best in the business.
Let's all just take a deep breath and be patient with Richardson. While it's all too possible the man could be a bust, patience will be our only way of telling.
Donald Brown, 31
33 ATT, 195 YDS, 1 TD, 5.9 AVG
Brown does not get near the credit that he should for this team's success. In Richardson's struggles, Brown has shined as a great open-field runner for the Colts. A healthy mix of the two could really be good for the Colts down the road, so long as offensive coordinator Pep Hamilton utilizes his tools correctly.
Dan Herron, 36
Not much to say here. Herron, signed following Ahmad Bradshaw's neck surgery and IR placement, has yet to see any action on the field.
Stanley Havili, 39
A relatively quiet acquisition for general manager Ryan Grigson back in March, Havili was sent over from the Philadelphia Eagles in exchange for defensive lineman Clifton Geathers. Havili has been just as quiet in terms of offensive production, with the exception of the 20-yard touchdown catch in Week 7 vs. Denver.
Thus far, Havili has proved his worth blocking in the backfield. But, many Colts fans wonder if having a fullback on the field more often than not is necessary in a league where the fullback has essentially become obsolete.
Darrius Heyward-Bey, 81
The offseason acquisition from Oakland, Heyward-Bey was supposed to be an upgraded edition of the 2012 Donnie Avery for the Colts. However, Heyward-Bey's bright spots for this team have been few and far between. Highlighted by big drops and lack of production, Heyward-Bey is going to be expected to step up and help fill the void that Wayne left in this offense.
T.Y. Hilton, 13
The second-year receiver out of Florida International is arguably the best wide receiver remaining on the active roster. Hilton, who has 412 yards and two touchdowns on 27 receptions so far this year, will most likely be Luck's heavily favored target in the wake of Reggie Wayne's absence.
LaVon Brazill, 15
Not much has been seen out of Brazill, who began the season with a four-game suspension for substance abuse. Colts fans can expect to see Brazill used more in the weeks to come, possibly in Hilton's normal slot role should Hilton be moved into Wayne's spot.
David Reed, 85
Since being acquired in the preseason from the Baltimore Ravens, Reed hasn't been heard from expect for a few kickoff returns. Like Brazill, Reed can expect to see a little more time on the field in the upcoming weeks.
Griff Whalen, 17
The most interesting prospect of the five receivers on the active roster, Whalen was a training camp favorite for fans. A former teammate of Luck's at Stanford, Whalen has the potential to be the "X factor" in the slot position. A Blair White-type receiver, if you will.
Coby Fleener, 80
Fleener has always been a somewhat-popular player in Indianapolis, as general manager Ryan Grigson brought in Andrew Luck's former teammate with the 2012 second-round pick, right behind Luck. But this past season has been rough for Fleener. Coming out of the preseason with a concussion followed by big drops and missed opportunities, the pressure is on Fleener to step up and prove he was worth that second-round pick that was used on him.
Jack Doyle, 84
Not much about Jack Doyle here—a virtual unknown in Indianapolis as offensive coordinator Pep Hamilton has opted to use Fleener and Havili over Doyle. Just as the upcoming absence of Reggie Wayne has affected the wide receivers and Fleener, it may also have an effect on how much we see Doyle on the field.
Anthony Castonzo, 74
Undoubtedly the best of the current offensive linemen is the 6'7", 307-pound, third-year offensive tackle out of Boston College. Castonzo is nearly the best just based on his size. But with the wavering play of the line, the one constant has been Castonzo. No problems here. He is definitely the anchor.
Hugh Thornton, 69
Rookie guard Hugh Thornton has been one of the bright spots of the 2013 draft class thus far. Taking over after the injury to Donald Thomas, Thornton has more than held his own among the offensive line, vindicating Grigson's third-round selection.
Joe Reitz, 76
Reitz may not be great, but he is a solid backup when it comes to the offensive guard position. Reitz has been around for three years and knows the system well.
Samson Satele, 64
Though injured in Week 8's victory over the Broncos, it appears Satele is just fine headed into Week 10. Though we have yet to see any of what rookie Khaled Holmes can do due to a lingering ankle injury, Satele is a decent center who can hold his own, which right now is all the Colts can ask for.
Khaled Holmes, 62
Holmes, as mentioned before, has yet to see any action on the field for two main reason. One being the injury, the other being he isn't proven and Satele is. However, don't be surprised if Holmes is the main center for the Luck era down the road.
Mike McGlynn, 75
Oh, Mike McGlynn. The picture above tells you about all you need to know about the sixth-year player out of Pittsburgh. The most consistent problem spot for this Colts team this season has been at the right guard position. But, seeing as how the backup at this position is the starting left guard, what are you going to do?
Hugh Thornton, 69 (See: Left Guard)
Gosder Cherilus, 78
Cherilus, another 2013 offseason addition for Indianapolis, has been solid on the right side of the line so far this season. Many criticized Grigson's offensive line additions last offseason, but they have definitely been improvements from last season, where Luck was sacked a 23rd-ranked 41 times. Cherilus is a large part of that improvement over former starter Winston Justice.
Jeff Linkenbach, 72
Linkenbach, who has been with the Colts for three years now, is a very solid tackle should Cherilus go down. Though not quite good enough to be a starter, the third-year man out of Cincinnati has a knowledge of the offense and would be an adequate replacement.
Left Defensive End
Cory Redding, 90
The 11th-year man out of Texas was a key addition and locker room presence in last year's 11-5 playoff run. Again this year, Redding provides a veteran leadership on the field that younger guys such as rookie Bjoern Werner can learn from. It is impossible to measure the impact someone like Redding has on a young and growing defense.
Ricardo Matthews, 91
Matthews has been relatively quiet since his being drafted by the Colts in the seventh round of the 2010 draft. With Redding at starter, Matthews is more of an insurance plan in case of injury rather than a starter-in-waiting.
Right Defensive End
Ricky Jean-Francois, 99
Jean-Francois was one of Indy's more notable offseason additions in 2013, though his production thus far has been disappointing. Jean-Francois has ten tackles and half a sack, though he did miss both the Jacksonville and Seattle games due to injury. The Colts can only hope that RJF can pick up his production in the coming weeks.
Fili Moala, 95
Moala, the fifth-year man out of USC, is a more than adequate second man to Jean-Francois. Seen in limited action, Moala has recorded nine tackles and a sack, right around the same numbers as the starter. The Colts are well-set at the right end spot.
Montori Hughes, 94
Hughes has yet to see any significant action on the field, and without looking at a depth chart, most fans probably didn't know Hughes was on the roster. Don't anticipate seeing much of him on the field in the near future, either.
Aubrayo Franklin, 97
Franklin, who came over from San Diego this past offseason, is that massive run-stopping defensive tackle the Colts have been lacking for years. At only 6'1", Franklin (pictured above) makes up in his 320-pound frame what he lacks in height. A solid nose-tackle in Pagano's 3-4 scheme.
Josh Chapman, 96
Chapman, 2012's fifth-round pick for the Colts, is essentially in his rookie season after sitting all of last season out with a knee injury. The massive 341-pound defensive tackle, also pictured above, is more than capable of being that run-stopping defensive frontman once Franklin decides to move on. The Colts, for the first time in a while, are in good hands up front.
Left Outside Linebacker
Erik Walden, 93
The heavily criticized signing of Erik Walden in the offseason has not become any less criticized, as Walden's production hasn't been up to standards. Granted, the standards set might be a little high for a guy who was a second-string player in Green Bay. But a 4-year/$16-million contract would constitute Walden as a starter. Eighteen tackles and a forced fumble? Colts fans want to see more.
Bjoern Werner, 92
This year's first-round draft pick has been inactive since Week 4 with a torn plantar fascia in his foot. Before the injury, Werner had looked decent but not impressive. However, with just the first four games of his career under his belt, criticism this early would be inaccurate and unfair to Werner.
Andy Studebaker, 58
Signed just a few weeks ago, Studebaker's main area of contribution has been on special teams. Studebaker may see a little action on the field, but it's unlikely as Werner is set to return sometime in the next couple of weeks.
Left Inside Linebacker
Pat Angerer, 51
Angerer, who has missed two games already this year because of injuries, has struggled in recent weeks. Since registering 11 tackles in the Week 2 loss to Miami, the fourth-year man out of Iowa has had 12 total tackles in Weeks 4 through 7.
While it is possible the middle linebacker is just starting to get back into a normal routine, having six tackles in Week 7's victory over Denver, Colts fans just want to see consistent play out of Angerer.
Kavell Conner, 53
The biggest mystery on this Indianapolis Colts team this season has been the absence of Conner. The fourth-year linebacker has only been active for four games this season, only seeing action in Weeks 3 and 5 and registering nine total tackles in those two games.
It doesn't appear that there has been injury on Conner's part, so Pagano keeping Conner inactive has been puzzling. I would hope to see Conner get re-familiarized with the starting defensive unit.
Kelvin Sheppard, 52
Sheppard has been a very solid player in the absences of both Angerer and Conner throughout the season. Though the numbers don't reflect those worthy of a starting position, Sheppard has done what he has been asked and that was to step up and help out because of injuries. A very solid backup for our linebacking corps.
Right Inside Linebacker
Jerrell Freeman, 50
Freeman has been one of general manager Ryan Grigson's best pickups since he took the reins in early 2012. A linebacker in the Canadian Football League, Freeman was signed as a free agent and was just competing for a roster spot in training camp. Now with a full season under his belt, Freeman is the team's leading tackler with 40 so far this season and an invaluable piece of this young defense.
Mario Harvey, 54
So far, not good for Harvey. The image that comes to mind for most Colts fans when Harvey's name is mentioned is the scene where Harvey struggled to cover San Diego's Keenan Allen on Monday Night Football. Sadly, that is the only impression of Harvey that we have gotten. But luckily for Colts fans, Harvey shouldn't see much more action in coverage with Freeman healthy.
Right Outside Linebacker
Robert Mathis, 98
The most important player on the defense and, arguably, the team, Mathis currently leads the league with 11.5 sacks through eight weeks. Mathis' sack-fumble of Denver Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning in Week 7 was arguably the turning point of the entire game, as Manning's throws looked off from that moment on. The presence that Mathis has on, and around, this defensive unit cannot be measured. He's just that good.
Cam Johnson, 59
Not much here on Johnson. Another one of those players who, without looking at a roster, Colts fans may not know is actually a Colt, one of the guys who Colts fans hope to never have to see take the field due to an injury.
Vontae Davis, 23
Davis is proving his worth so far this season, vindicating Grigson's second-round draft pick that was sent to Miami for Davis. Vontae has asserted himself as the No. 1 corner on this defense.
Greg Toler, 28
Toler was one of those guys who Colts fans weren't too sure about when the Colts announced the signing. Coming from Arizona, Toler was often injured throughout his career. So far this season, Toler has stayed relatively healthy but played inconsistently in the secondary. Colts fans hope that Toler is just having the same issues Davis had in his first season in Indy.
Darius Butler, 20
Butler's worth to this team was proven in the Denver game after he had to go out of the game for a few plays because of an injury. Butler had held Broncos receiver Wes Welker relatively in check throughout the entire game, and following Butler's injury, Welker had a few very good catches on corner Greg Toler. Butler defended Welker as good as anyone we've seen play Denver all season, and showed in Week 7 why he has strong value to this defense. Butler also leads the Colts in interceptions this season at two.
Cassius Vaughn, 32
Vaughn has been relatively quiet following the addition of Toler, but retaining him was a necessity. Against Denver, secondary players for Indy were dropping, and it almost looked like the Colts were going to run out of players. Luckily, having players like Vaughn on the second-string proves to be quite beneficial for Indianapolis.
Josh Gordy, 27
Gordy hasn't seen much action on the field this season after coming to Indy from St. Louis last season. Gordy does, however, have one of Indianapolis' eight interceptions this season thus far.
Jalil Brown, 21
Brown was signed off of the practice squad following Reggie Wayne's knee injury, filling the empty roster spot.
LaRon Landry, 30
The first things you notice whenever you see LaRon Landry are his arms.
Oh, yeah. The guy is a helluva safety as well. Landry's absence for four of this season's seven games were felt. In just three games, Landry has 32 total tackles and has made his opponents feel every single one of them. Landry gives the Colts defense that defensive boost that Bob Sanders gave Indianapolis back in their 2006 Super Bowl run.
Delano Howell, 26
Howell played remarkably well in Landry's absence and has emerged as a definite playmaker in the secondary. In four games of action, Howell recorded 18 tackles before missing the Week 7 Denver game with a neck injury. Colts fans should hope that Howell will be good to go for Houston as good secondary relief for either Landry or strong safety Antoine Bethea.
Sergio Brown, 38
Brown is in his second year with the Colts, though he is more of a special teams player and less of a safety. Brown can be seen in the action on almost every kickoff, swarming toward the ball. Haven't seen much of Brown in the secondary, so tough telling if he would be a suitable replacement or not.
Larry Asante, 25
Asante has not seen any action on the field with the exception of some special teams play.
Antoine Bethea, 41
Right behind Robert Mathis as biggest impact player on this defense is Bethea. One of the few remaining players left from the 2006 Super Bowl team, Bethea provides a mindset and veteran knowledge that help some of the younger defensive backs the Colts have in the secondary. Losing Bethea would be about as bad as losing Wayne was for the offense.
Adam Vinatieri, 4
Ole' reliable. The oldest player in the NFL is quite possibly the most consistent player as well. Vinatieri is 15-of-17 this season on field goals, the two he missed being from 50-plus. As long as Adam is kicking pigs, Colts fans need not worry about that late game-winner. He's a proven "Mr. Cool" in the clutch.
Pat McAfee, 1
The ultra-lovable fan favorite Pat McAfee has proved in recent seasons that punters can have just as much of an effect on a game than any other position. But, don't let McAfee's 6'1" punter's body fool you—the dude can lay a hit, too.
All tackling aside, McAfee has been a difference maker for the Colts in times when the offense hasn't been able to. McAfee's 46.3 average is among the best in the league, and if you're looking for a guy who can angle it and pin the opponent deep, Pat is your guy.
David Reed, 85
Not much here. Reed has been quiet, only averaging 25.1 yards per return on 11 returns. Kick returning has never been a strong suit for the Colts, and it doesn't appear that that is going to change.
T.Y. Hilton, 13
Hilton is the type of returner who can field a punt and completely change the direction of the game. Though only averaging 7.9 yards per return, Hilton's speed makes him dangerous. However, with the injury to Reggie Wayne, it remains to be seen if head coach Chuck Pagano will continue to use Hilton in punt return situations. An injury to Hilton on a non-offensive play would be devastating.
At 5-2, the Colts are currently sitting atop the AFC South with a two-game lead and one of the easier remaining schedules in the NFL. The division, it seems, is Indy's to lose at the moment.
Indianapolis Colts Remaining Schedule
Home: St. Louis, Tennessee, Houston, Jacksonville
Away: at Houston, at Tennessee, at Arizona, at Cincinnati, at Kansas City
It's feasible to look at the remaining schedule and see the Colts finishing at 12-4 or 11-5. Most fans look and see Cincinnati and Kansas City as the toughest remaining games. And if Indianapolis is continuing to play the way they are now, 12-4 or even 13-3 is absolutely achievable for this team.
The loss of Reggie Wayne won't rear its ugly head until the playoffs, when (if) the Colts will be without a veteran voice on the sidelines. Should the Colts get there, the loss of Reggie will be magnified much more than fans might realize.
Either way, this Colts team is bound to do some special things this decade. It's going to be fun to watch. But who said this is a team of the future? As far as Colts fans are concerned, this is a team of now.
Will you be watching?