Colts settle on 53; Stephen Morris stays, Nate Irving goes

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INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. – The Indianapolis Colts’ roster is set, for now, and it’s not a stretch to say a few personnel decisions come as a surprise.

In whittling their roster from 75 to 53 ahead of Saturday’s 4 o’clock deadline, the Colts:

  • Released veteran linebacker Nate Irving. He seemingly had completed his comeback from a 2014 knee injury, and was in the second year of a three-year, $7.25 million free-agent contract. He had been battling Sio Moore for the starting inside spot alongside D’Qwell Jackson.
  • Opted to at least initially carry three quarterbacks on the active roster for the first time since 2012. Joining Andrew Luck are backup Scott Tolzien and Stephen Morris, one of the most productive QBs during the preseason.
  • Are carrying four running backs. While releasing recently-signed Stevan Ridley, the team is supporting Frank Gore with Robert Turbin, Jordan Todman and rookie Josh Ferguson.
  • Kept five receivers. Sitting behind T.Y. Hilton, Donte Moncrief and Phillip Dorsett are rookie Chester Rogers and return specialist Quan Bray.
  • Blended a veteran roster – 12 players at least 30 – with 11 rookies. Seven of the eight draft picks made the cut. Only seventh-round linebacker Trevor Bates was waived, and he might return on the practice squad if he clears waivers.
  • Kept at least one undrafted rookie for an 18th consecutive season, the NFL’s longest active streak.
  • Placed veteran guard Hugh Thornton on the injured reserve list. He was the last remaining member of general manager Ryan Grigson’s 2013 draft class. Thornton never fully recovered from surgery early this year on his right foot.

In reaching the NFL-mandated 53-player limit, the Colts waived defensive end Sterling Bailey, linebackers Trevor Bates and Earl Okine, offensive, safeties Lee Hightower, Stefan McClure and Alden Darby, cornerbacks Tay Glover-Wright and Chris Milton, wide receivers Tevaun Smith and MeKale McKay, guards Kitt O’Brien and Adam Redmon, offensive tackles Mitchell Van Dyk and Jeremy Vujnovich and defensive tackle Kelcy Quarles.

The Colts also placed cornerback Tevin Mitchel and linebacker Ron Thompson on the injured reserve list.

While many of the so-called bubble players are breathing easier, caution is required. The Colts undoubtedly will be scouring the waiver wire to determine if better depth options are available.

A breakdown of the roster (* – denotes rookie)

OFFENSE (25)

Quarterback (3): Andrew Luck, Scott Tolzien, Stephen Morris.

Running back (4): Frank Gore, Robert Turbin, Jordan Todman, Josh Ferguson*.

Wide receiver (5): T.Y. Hilton, Donte Moncrief, Phillip Dorsett, Quan Bray, Chester Rogers*.

Tight end (4): Dwayne Allen, Jack Doyle, Erik Swoope, Chase Coffman.

Offensive line (9): OT Anthony Castonzo, OT Joe Reitz, G Jack Mewhort, C Ryan Kelly*, Denzelle Good, Jon Harrison, Joe Haeg*, Austin Blythe*, Le’Raven Clark*.

DEFENSE (25)

Line (6): Kendall Langford, Henry Anderson, David Parry, Zach Kerr, T.Y. McGill, Hassan Ridgeway*.

Linebackers (9): Robert Mathis, Trent Cole, Erik Walden, D’Qwell Jackson, Sio Moore, Antonio Morrison*, Josh McNary, Edwin Jackson, Curt Maggitt*.

Cornerback (6): Vontae Davis, Antonio Cromartie, Darius Butler, Patrick Robinson, Jalil Brown, Frank Williams*.

Safety (4): Mike Adams, T.J. Green*, Clayton Geathers, Winston Guy.

SPECIALISTS (3)

PK Adam Vinatieri, P Pat McAfee, LS Matt Overton

INJURED RESERVE

G Hugh Thornton, LB Ron Thompson, CB Tevin Mitchel

SUSPENDED

DT Art Jones (four games)