An early look at the Colts’ roster as offseason work continues

HOUSTON, TX - JANUARY 05: Andrew Luck #12 of the Indianapolis Colts throws a pass before the game against the Houston Texans during the Wild Card Round at NRG Stadium on January 5, 2019 in Houston, Texas. (Photo by Tim Warner/Getty Images)

INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. – It’s mid-May and the roster is full, but Chris Ballard might not be done tweaking it.

That’s the modus operandi of the Indianapolis Colts’ general manager, who always – always – is focused on making it better, even incrementally.

As the Colts head into the fifth week of their offseason program – that’s the halfway mark – they do so with their 90-player roster at its limit. Things ramp up next Tuesday with the first of OTAs (organized team activities).

Offseason work concludes June 11-13 with a three-day mandatory minicamp before everyone takes a break until training camp opens in late July at Grand Park Sports Campus in Westfield.

Between now and then, the Colts might stand pat. And might not. Ballard and his personnel staff aren’t averse to replacing a cornerback, offensive lineman, receiver or another position with one who’s on the street or has been waived.

The overwhelming majority of players under contract will show up in Westfield. A few might not.

With that in mind, here’s how the Colts stack up from a positional standpoint. Included is the number at each position and the number the team routinely carried in 2018.

OFFENSE

Quarterback (3/2): Andrew Luck, Jacoby Brissett, Phillip Walker.

Comment: As long as Luck has his health, there’s little reason to carry a third QB. By the way, we’re expecting Luck to have an even better year in ’19. He’ll benefit from an entire football-focused offseason rather than balancing football and rehab.

Running back (5/4): Marlon Mack, Nyheim Hines, Jordan Wilkins, Spencer Ware, Jonathan Williams.

Comment: If you’re looking for a position for someone(s) to be added, this is it. Fresh legs are a must during training camp. At one point last summer, the Colts carried seven running backs.

Wide receiver 13/6): T.Y. Hilton, Devin Funchess, Parris Campbell*, Chester Rogers, Zach Pascal, Deon Cain, Reece Fountain, Krishawn Hogan, Steve Ishmael, Marcus Johnson, Jordan Veasy, Penny Hart*, Ashton Dulin*.

Comment: Barring injury and taking Cain’s return from a torn ACL into account, this figures to be one of the most competitive positions during training camp. A few good players won’t make the final cut.

Tight end (7/3): Jack Doyle, Eric Ebron, Mo Alie-Cox, Ross Travis, Billy Brown, Gabe Holmes, Hale Hentges*.

Comment: Ebron mentioned last week he’s eager to see how effective he and Doyle can be over the course of an entire season. So are we.

Offensive line (15/10): Anthony Castonzo, Ryan Kelly, Quenton Nelson, Mark Glowinski, Braden Smith, Joe Haeg, Le’Raven Clark, Evan Boehm, J’Marcus Webb, Josh Andrews, Antonio Garcia, Javon Patterson*, Jackson Barton*, William Poehls, De’Ondre Wesley.

Comment: Another loaded position. The starting five returns intact for the first time since 2006. Nine players boast starting  experience.

DEFENSE

Defensive Line (14/9): Jabaal Sheard, Justin Houston, Denico Autry, Margus Hunt, Tyquan Lewis, Kemoko Turay, Al-Quadin Muhammad, Grover Stewart, Jihad Ward, Gerri Green*, Jordan Thompson*, Johnny Robinson*, Iseoluwapo Jegede*, Sterling Shippy.

Comment: At first glance, this looks to be one of the deepest areas on the team. Coordinator Matt Eberflus loves utilizing a rotational system to keep players fresh, and has bodies to do it.

Linebacker (11/6): Darius Leonard, Anthony Walker, Matthew Adams, Zaire Franklin, Skai Moore, Ahmad Thomas, Carroll Phillips, Ben Banogu*, Bobby Okereke*, E.J. Speed*, Tre Thomas*.

Comment: The Colts routinely kept six ‘backers on the active roster last season. It’s going to be interesting to see how this group shakes out. Worth noting: seven are Ballard draft picks.

Cornerback (11/5): Pierre Desir, Kenny Moore II, Quincy Wilson, Nate Hairston, Jalen Collins, Chris Milton, D.J. Killings, Rock Ya-Sin*, Marvell Tell III*, Shakial Taylor*, Jamal Peters*.

Comment: Another deep group. We’re interested to see if Wilson is able to put an inconsistent past behind him and how quickly Tell can make the transition from college safety to NFL corner.

Safety (7/5): Malik Hooker, Clayton Geathers, Matthias Farley, George Odom, Derrick Kindred, Rolan Milligan, Khari Willis*.

Comment: Hopefully this is the year Hooker and Geathers emerge as the safety tandem everyone has been anticipating.

SPECIAL TEAMS

Placekicker (2/1): Adam Vinatieri, Cole Hedlund*.

Punter (1/1): Rigoberto Sanchez.

Longsnapper (1/1): Luke Rhodes.

Comment: Vinny, Rigo and Rhodes represent one of NFL’s best one-two-three punches.

*denotes rookie

You can follow Mike Chappell on Twitter at @mchappell51

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