INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. – Now that the Indianapolis Colts and Andrew Luck have decided how best to divvy up $140 million over the next six seasons, the franchise has settled into a quiet time before players report to training camp at Anderson University July 26.
Or so it hopes. Over the next few weeks, the only news figures to be negative.
That in mind, we’ll fill in the idle time by offering some early assistance to general manager Ryan Grigson and coach Chuck Pagano at whittling the current 90-player roster to the ultimate 53-player limit for the Sept. 11 season opener against the Detroit Lions.
A majority of the decisions are in the no-brainer category. But the overall soundness of the roster rests with finding reliable depth and filling out the final half-dozen or so spots.
Also, the staff must wrestle with how many players to retain at various positions. Nine offensive linemen, or 10? Five receivers, or does the number bump to six with return specialist Quan Bray? Good luck having a firm grasp on the makeup of the defensive front seven.
But we press on.
Here’s an educated guess at what the 53-player roster might look like. And we reserve the right to deny this was ever posted, or at least insist someone hacked our account.
OFFENSE (24 players)
(* denotes rookie)
Quarterbacks (2): Andrew Luck, Scott Tolzien.
Comment: At the risk of hurting Tolzien’s feelings, we hope he only plays in mop-up time. As much as we appreciated Matt Hasselbeck in ’15, we saw way too much of him. Same with Charlie Whitehurst. And Josh Freeman. And Ryan Lindley.
Running backs (4): Frank Gore, Robert Turbin, Jordan Todman, Josh Ferguson*.
Comment: Maybe Tyler Varga wrestles a spot away from Todman. We’re eager to see Ferguson when the pads come on. The rookie free agent turned heads during offseason work.
Wide receivers (6): T.Y. Hilton, Donte Moncrief, Phillip Dorsett, Brian Tyms, Josh Boyce, Quan Bray.
Comment: We tossed the dart a couple of times and it hit Tyms and Boyce. Each has limited experience. If the coaching staff needs depth at another position, it could cost one of these guys a job.
Tight end (3): Dwayne Allen, Jack Doyle, Erik Swoope.
Comment: Swoope has marinated two years on the practice squad. It’s time for the former University of Miami power forward to make the active roster. If he falters, maybe Darion Griswold is the No. 3 guy.
Offensive line (9): Anthony Castonzo, Jack Mewhort, Joe Reitz, Ryan Kelly*, Hugh Thornton, Jon Harrison, Denzelle Good, Joe Haeg*, Le’Raven Clark*.
Comment: Thornton seems to be the wild card in the mix after missing the offseason work with an injury rehab. But with three rookies possibly making the cut, we’d feel more secure with Thornton’s experience in the room.
Line (7): Kendall Langford, Art Jones, Henry Anderson, David Parry, Zach Kerr, Hassan Ridgeway*, T.Y. McGill.
Comment: The availability of Jones (ankle) and Anderson (knee) could totally mess with the depth chart, especially early. No one should be surprised if both open camp on the physically unable to perform list.
Linebackers (10): Robert Mathis, Trent Cole, Erik Walden, D’Qwell Jackson, Nate Irving, Sio Moore, Josh McNary, Antonio Morrison*, Trevor Bates*, Earl Okine.
Comment: We used a pencil to fill in the final few spots. And we’ve got an eraser handy. The team needs one of the young pass-rush prospects to emerge and contribute immediately. Maybe that’s Ron Thompson or Curt Maggitt.
Cornerbacks (5): Vontae Davis, Patrick Robinson, Darius Butler, D’Joun Smith, Jalil Brown.
Comment: The biggest question is whether Smith will be ready for camp. He missed 12 games of his rookie season and all of the offseason work with a knee issue.
Safety (4): Mike Adams, Clayton Geathers, T.J. Green*, Winston Guy.
Comment: It will be interesting to see how quickly Green, who’s still relatively new to the position, catches on.
SPECIAL TEAMS (3)
Placekicker: Adam Vinatieri.
Punter: Pat McAfee.
Long-snapper: Matt Overton.
Comment: None required.