Now that the Colts have made their final roster cuts, made the immediate moves on the waiver wire, and made the majority of their practice squad moves, we have a pretty clear picture of what their initial 53-man roster will look like come September 10.
What does the season hold for this team? Does it look better, worse, or similar to what we assumed earlier this offseason?
First up to take a closer look at is the offensive side of the ball.
Starter: Andrew Luck
Key Reserves: Drew Stanton, Chandler Harnish
Obviously, the Colts have a much better situation than they had going into last season, with their franchise quarterback a much younger, much healthier player. Luck has looked just as good as he’s been hyped up to be, and Stanton and Harnish have performed adequately in the preseason.
All that matters for the season is really Luck’s health and development, but Stanton and Harnish are interesting backups. The Colts thought so much of Harnish, they didn’t want to risk a team claiming him off of waivers before they could sign him onto the practice squad.
Starter: Donald Brown
Key Reserves: Vick Ballard, Mewelde Moore, Delone Carter
The running back situation turned out pretty much the same way we expected it to. Brown looks to be the starter going into the season, but the running backs will likely share carries throughout the season. Vick Ballard has had a good preseason, showing surprising amounts of agility to go with a powerful running style.
Mewelde Moore and Delone Carter were sidelined for the majority of the preseason with rib injuries, and haven’t had much of a chance to prove themselves. Moore looks to be a 3rd down type of back, while Carter seems like the best choice for short yardage.
Starters: Reggie Wayne, Austin Collie
Key Reserves: Donnie Avery, LaVon Brazill, T.Y. Hilton, Kris Adams
The starting wide receivers of Wayne and Collie are the only proven veterans of the group, hence the starting positions. Collie was kept out of the final two preseason games after taking a shot to the head in the second preseason game against the Steelers. There are definite concerns about his health, short and long-term, but for now Collie and the doctors believe he can move forward.
Brazill and Hilton have had an impressive preseason, with Brazill especially surprising after slipping to the sixth round in the 2012 NFL Draft. Avery still needs to prove himself after being fairly unproductive for the last four years.
Kris Adams has played well in training camps and practice, but fans didn’t get to see the results until the fourth preseason game against the Bengals. Adams showed the potential to be a legitimate deep threat, but also took a nasty shot to the head. Fortunately, the Colts thought enough of him to keep him on the roster despite the head shot.
Starters: Coby Fleener, Dwayne Allen
Key Reserves: Dominique Jones
Rookie tight ends Fleener and Allen have had fairly invisible preseasons, but fans still have high hopes for the duo. Allen’s blocking skills have been impressive, while Fleener’s have been lacking, but that was to be expected.
What was not expected was Fleener’s trouble with dropped passes, and the tight ends’ lack of targets in the new offense. Hopefully both problems will be resolved when the games actually mater.
Dominique Jones has been praised by Coach Pagano this past month, and has been an effective blocker in short yardage situations. He also showed his catch-and-run ability last game, with a 42-yard touchdown reception, leaving at least three stiff armed defenders in his tracks.
Starters: Anthony Castonzo, Joe Reitz, Samson Satele, Mike McGlynn, Winston Justice
Key Reserves: Mike Person, Seth Olsen, A.Q. Shipley, Jeff Linkenbach
The offensive line is easily the biggest case for concern this season. Not only have they looked abysmal in the run game, failing to get any sort of push against bigger defensive lines, but they’ve been an open sieve during pass plays, causing Andrew Luck to run for his life.
Castonzo and Reitz have been solid on the left, but Satele has been inconsistent, and McGLynn (and Olsen in his place) and Justice have been gut-wrenching to watch.
The reserves haven’t looked any better, although Mike Person is a new talent at tackle. Person is a seventh round pick from the 2011 NFL Draft, from Montana State University. It’s likely that Person will not add more than any other depth lineman, but any possible cause of hope must be watched carefully with this group.