INDIANAPOLIS – With significant roster moves looming, Frank Reich didn’t tip his hand. Who’s in? Who’s out? Who remains on the bubble?
But he did offer insight on some of the individuals who will be involved as the Indianapolis Colts continue to consider their options in trimming the roster to 53. The deadline for cuts is 4 p.m. Tuesday.
“Obviously those are incredibly tough decisions,” Reich said Sunday afternoon. “We’re still in the process of that.”
He had just taken a break from a long meeting with general manager Chris Ballard and the personnel staff. Another meeting was scheduled for Sunday night, and more will fill the Monday agenda.
At this point, Reich said, many roster spots “are still in flux.”
But he did offer his view on several players.
Linebacker Shaquille Leonard:
The All-Pro linebacker still is on PUP after undergoing back surgery in June, but undoubtedly would be part of the 53-player roster if he gains medical clearance. Leonard went through a workout prior to Saturday’s preseason game with Tampa Bay at Lucas Oil Stadium.
“Very encouraging,” Reich said. “Shaq – we were just talking about this – from the start of OTAs, from the start of training camp has been the consummate pro. I don’t think he could’ve done one ounce more or one thing more any better to prepare himself to have the quickest comeback that he can have.
“Now, it’s just a question of when he can get cleared, to get off PUP and get back on the practice field. How long is that going to take once he gets back on the practice field? I’m not sure of the number of days. . . . I know this: Shaq has done everything possible to make that time – whatever that time is – as short as possible.”
Has a decision been made?
“No decision at this point,” Reich said.
No. 3 quarterback Sam Ehlinger:
It isn’t the norm for a team to carry three QBs on the active roster, unless there’s an injury issue with one of the other two.
“Sam has had a phenomenal preseason,” Reich said. “It’s hard to imagine having a better preseason than he’s had. Really excited about him and his continued development.”
Ehlinger completed 24-of-29 passes (82.8%) for 289 yards with four touchdowns and a 147.8 rating. He also was the team’s leading rusher with 71 yards on six attempts, including the 45-yard TD against the Bucs.
“He’s done everything he’s needed to do,” Reich said. “He did what he was supposed to do, and I don’t think it’s a surprise to any of us. It’s a credit to him.
“Most teams would not like to have to [carry three QBs], but that’s the decision that we’ll have to make here in the next 24-48 hours.”
The concern is waiving Ehlinger with the expectation of signing him to the practice squad, but having a team claim him.
Rookie linebacker Sterling Weatherford:
The Hamilton Heights H.S. product led the defense in total tackles (22) and solos (15), and was third with three special teams tackles. Weatherford certainly was given the opportunity to earn a roster spot. In three preseason games, he was on the field for 115 defensive snaps – most among the linebackers – and 39 special teams snaps.
“Sterling is really smart, fast,” Reich said. “Really feel like he has continued to improve, has really good play-speed. He had a nice game (against Tampa Bay). So, like his development.”
Veteran cornerback Tony Brown:
His versatility to contribute on defense and special teams could be key.
“Love Tony, just love his aggressiveness,” Reich said. “I love his competitiveness. It’s interesting. Tony, when he got here, just getting to know him, I really have just appreciated and respected him more and more as time has gone on.
“You can just see his tenacity. He’s a valuable special teams contributor and really his corner play and nickel play has been noteworthy. It’s a competitive battle amongst those guys, but Tony has done a nice job.”
The third-year wideout led the team in receiving for a second straight preseason. After compiling 11 receptions for 173 yards in 2021, Patmon finished with nine for 171 and one TD this summer. He had five catches for 103 yards and a 50-yard TD against Detroit.
“Obviously Dez had a very good preseason, very good in the games the last couple of weeks,” Reich said. “Really had gotten a lot of opportunities and I think what’s important is, he got a lot of playtime and he made the most of it.”
The Pro Bowl center missed the last five days after testing positive for COVID-19. He’s due back at the complex Monday.
“He’ll be back tomorrow and should be good to go unless there’s any kind of setback, which I’m not anticipating,” Reich said. “Ryan’s established himself as one of the top centers in the league, one the top players in the league.
“Certainly missed him (against the Bucs), but this also just gave an opportunity for other guys to get more work.”
With Kelly out, Danny Pinter, the projected starting right guard, slid over to center against Tampa Bay.
You can follow Mike Chappell on Twitter at @mchappell51.