Second in this week’s look at the roster churning, we’ll take a look at the defensive side of the ball.
Due to significant injury questions in the defense’s front seven, the Colts, this week, have released CB Justin King while signing free agent NT Antonio Dixon and elevating both DE Clifton Geathers and OLB Jerry Brown from the practice squad to the active roster.
It’s a bit of a surprise that King was released, but after Sunday’s game against the Packers the Colts must have felt really good about the CB depth in Cassius Vaughn specifically, and to a lesser degree both Josh Gordy and Darius Butler.
King had been running as the starter prior to Ryan Grigson’s late training camp trade with Miami for Vontae Davis. King was then relegated to nickel duty, and while playing tight coverage was flagged (like Davis) on numerous occasions already this season for pass interference.
King is the former whipping boy of the St. Louis Rams and was signed by the Colts late into this past offseason. My guess is that he still could be had later in the regular season if injury or depth questions arise.
You hate to see a guy lose his job due to injury, and in King’s case his spot on the roster, but perhaps for the Colts this was a blessing in disguise.
In Dixon, the Colts found a player with a good amount of experience under his belt, someone who Grigson is familiar with and a guy that many in the NFL media are a bit surprised was still available.
A former undrafted free agent, Dixon (6’3”-322lbs) played in 35 games over the past 3 season with the Philadelphia Eagles, where of course, Grigson was previously employed.
He is known as a run-stuffer and when he started 10 games in 2010, many felt he was really turning into a big-time player.
When the Eagles switched defensive schemes a bit in 2011 and Dixon dealt with some injury issues, he lost favor a bit with pass-rushing guru defensive line coach Jim Washburn.
Washburn’s famous (but misnamed) “wide-9” front is similar in many ways to the Colts’ previous Tampa-2 fronts where bigger “run-stuffing” DTs that aren’t great pass rushers are de-valued.
Thus, Dixon’s abilities were de-valued.
Dixon did not make it out of camp with the Eagles this offseason. While he has gotten a lot of workouts with teams over the past few weeks, he had not been signed until a familiar voice reached out from the Colts in the form of an offer from Grigson.
With backup NT Martin Tevaseu questionable for this week’s game with an ankle injury, Dixon should be able to back-up the NT spot if he has caught onto the scheme well enough. Dixon has never played in a 3-4 in the pros, but did a bit in college and should have done some two-gap work under then Eagles’ defensive coordinator Sean McDermott’s fire-blitz scheme with the Eagles in 2009-2010.
In Geathers, the team has a high-upside defensive line prospect, who played a bit for the Cowboys last year in a very similar scheme.
With only 1 week on the practice squad, let’s hope Geathers is up for the challenge as it seems the team could be without starting DE Fili Moala due to his knee injury suffered against the Packers.
Lastly, OLB Jerry Brown, who spent the entire training camp with the Colts and has been on the practice squad since the season began gets his opportunity to try and help the team weather the storm while starting SOLB Robert Mathis is apparently out for 2-3 weeks.
In all honestly, it’ll be Jerry Hughes, not Jerry Brown, who should be the one doing more of the fill-in work, but Brown will offer depth and should help out on special teams.
It is interesting to note, however, that the Colts opted to elevate Brown to the active roster over Mario Addison.
Addison has been signed by the Washington Redskins to their active roster. The Colts actually had the right to block that transaction by bringing him up over Brown, but they chose not to do so.
It seems as if they were ready to move on – best of luck to Addison in Washington.