In order to prepare for action against the Cleveland Browns this Sunday the Colts front office signed free agent TE Weslye Saunders and poached DE Lawrence Guy from off of the Green Bay Packers’ practice squad. To free up room for them on the active roster, QB Chandler Harnish and OLB Jerry Brown were sent down to the practice squad, which in turn kicked TE Dominique Jones and OLB D.J. Bryant back to street free agent status.
Let’s learn a bit about these newbies…
Saunders (6’5”-265lbs) is a 2nd year player out of South Carolina. He was not drafted in 2011 due to questions over the health of his foot as well as some other character concerns.
He was signed by the Steelers after the lockout and made the team out of training camp. Saunders went on to play in all 16 games even starting 6 of them. Of course our own interim head coach, Bruce Arians, was the Steelers’ offensive coordinator in 2011 so there is certainly a comfort level. Known more for his blocking, Arians asked Saunders to play the “F” position for the Steelers last year – the same position which rookie Dwayne Allen has played admirably for the Colts this season.
Now, Saunders recently became available when the Steelers had the option to reactivate him off of the suspended list for violating the league’s Performance Enhancing Drug policy. From everything I’ve found Saunders tested positive for Adderall during the offseason instead of HGH or any crazy ‘roid supplement, not that that makes it any better, but we’ve seen much bigger name players get hit for the same debatably harmless medication.
After his 4-week ban from the NFL he practiced a few times and the Steelers, dealing with their own injury woes, needed his roster spot. With new offensive coordinator Todd Haley in charge, there was no commitment or real history with Saunders and so, they moved on.
With Dominique Jones waived last week, we only had 2 TEs on the active roster and, as I predicted, the Colts used Tony Hills a bit in the Jets game as an eligible receiver just to make do. When a player who has started for Arians in the past becomes available, the Colts seem to take a look. With Saunders on board, now the Colts have a veteran presence in the TE room too, just like Arians mentioned they’re looking to have for each positional unit. Yes, when your team is as young as the Colts are a 2nd-year, undrafted player counts as a “veteran presence.”
The defensive line, which has been a glaring weakness, is also really banged up. It’ll be a shock to see either DE Cory Redding or NT Martin Tevaseu back healthy this week even though they’ve been called “questionable.” As Arians mentioned today, our back-up defensive line has a total of 10 practices under their belt with the Colts.
In order to have enough possible depth to get through a game, the Colts had to go searching for another defensive end. The player they settled on is 2nd-year DE Lawrence Guy (6’4”-305lbs). In order to get him here, we had to sign him off of the Packers’ practice squad, meaning he’ll at least be on the active 53-man roster for a mandated 3-week stint.
A 2011 7th-round project out of Arizona State, Guy certainly looks the part and flashed talent in college. The reason he fell in the draft was likely due to teams’ concerns that he would take time to develop. Not only did he come out too early in some evaluators’ opinions, but there is also the fact that Guy suffers from ADHD and dyslexia. This probably made teams nervous that he would struggle to learn the playbook.
His learning disabilities don’t mean that he can’t succeed, but it could make it difficult for him to be effective right away for the Colts unless quite a bit of the terminology from Dom Capers’ 3-4 in Green Bay translates easily for him in Indy too.
With the injuries to Fili Moala, Redding and Tevaseu, chances are Guy is going to play meaningful snaps in the upcoming weeks. Let’s hope he can make his presence felt.
The Colts did seem to luck out and were able to retain both Chandler Harnish and Jerry Brown on the practice squad after clearing waivers today. The team did have to release the aforementioned Jones and an interesting prospect in OLB D.J. Bryant just to make room. It seems they like Harnish as the long-term backup for Andrew Luck and Brown is someone they clearly want to continue developing.