Well, the trade deadline passed, and that final roster spot remained empty. This evening, the team remedied that problem, welcoming tight end Weslye Saunders back to the active roster. They also signed tackle Xavier Nixon to the practice squad once again and released cornerback Daxton Swanson from Injured Reserve.
From the Colts’ press release:
Saunders, 6-5, 261 pounds, has played in 27 career games (10 starts), catching six passes for 44 yards and a touchdown. He was originally signed by the Colts as a free agent on October 16, 2012 and appeared in 11 games (four starts) last year, recording two catches for 15 yards. Saunders was waived by the Colts on July 25, 2013.
Nixon was originally signed to the Colts active roster off the Washington Redskins practice squad on September 24, 2013. He was inactive for all four games before being waived on October 28. Nixon was originally signed by the Redskins as an undrafted free agent on May 2 and was waived on August 31. He was then signed to the team’s practice squad the following day.
Swanson was signed by the Colts as an undrafted free agent on April 30, 2013 and was waived-injured on August 31. He graduated Sam Houston State as the school’s all-time leader in interceptions with 14 and ranks second in all-time interception return yardage (228).
Saunders has had his problems. Steve Spurrier dismissed him from the University of South Carolina in 2011, and he’s been suspended by the NFL for violating their P.E.D. policy when a drug test showed Adderall in his system.
Nevertheless, Saunders has shown some potential as a backup tight end, apparently more so than Justice Cunningham has. Here’s an excerpt from Saunders’s NFL.com draft profile:
Strengths: Saunders has prototypical size. Possesses a quick first step and the speed to stretch the field down the seam. Fluid enough get open in man coverage and consistently finds soft spots in zone. Has great hands and a large catching radius. Shows a bit of a wiggle to make people miss in the open field.
Weaknesses: Lacks explosion out of his breaks and will struggle to separate from more athletic linebackers. A bit raw as a route runner. Does not show the desire to be a solid run blocker and plays with poor leverage and technique. Missed his senior year after being dismissed from the team.
And, if you want to know a little more about the large tight end making his return to the Colts, here’s a Weslye Saunders highlight reel (Saves article, commences watching the Pacers game):