The cuts have begun. All NFL teams have to be down to 75 players by Tuesday the 26th at 4:00 PM EDT, and the Colts this morning waived cornerbacks Johnny Adams, Kameron Jackson and Qua Cox, guards Andre Cureton and Marcus Hall, safety David Sims, fullback Cameron White, linebacker Jonathon Sharpe, and wide receivers Eric Thomas, Nu’Keese Richardson and Tony Washington.
This time of year is tough for coaches and players alike as they see the men they formed a bond with during training camp pack up their lockers, many for the last time.
With just four more cuts to make before the deadline, there certainly are more players on the bubble, but I think it’s more fun to talk about the ones who look safe for now. Here are a few guys we may not have known much about before this preseason who are making strong cases for themselves:
1. RB Dan Herron – The second year running back hasn’t done much in the yards per carry department, but he is making plays and holding onto the third RB spot behind Richardson and Bradshaw, even if it’s mostly because no one else outside of the top three has made a strong case for himself.
2. NT Zach Kerr – Kerr has been a solid metric ton of awesome whenever he’s been on the field. He may have entrenched himself as the second nose tackle on a team in great need of some guys up front who are more than just large. Kerr has relentlessly tortured the opposing backups and held his own against some of the better competition all preseason. He has earned an overall PFF grade of 7.0. That’s a (rather wide) diamond in the rough, right there, people.
3. C Jonatthan Harrison – It’s okay if you wrote him off after those two bad snaps when Khaled Holmes went down. I did too, but Harrison has been manning the starting center spot admirably in Holmes’s absence. Pro Football Focus rates him around average (0.8 and 0.4 – zero is average) since his disastrous first outing, and average is pretty darn good for an undrafted rookie offensive lineman (and while Samson Satele seems like a great guy, it’s an improvement over last year for sure).
4. ILB Henoc Muamba – The former number one overall pick in the CFL has been solid when he’s seen the field. Muamba has played 97 (36, 39, and 22) of a possible 230 snaps and has been graded positively across the board by PFF with an overall score of 5.7. Muamba has 11 solo tackles, 4 QB hurries, 6 defensive stops (solo tackles resulting in an offensive failure), and a sack, making the very most of his 97 defensive plays. If the Colts once again keep a fifth inside linebacker, Muamba looks like he’s the guy.
5 & 6. WRs Da’Rick Rogers and Griff Whalen – Most of us would like to see both of these guys make the team, and with Reggie Wayne returning from a major injury at his age and Hakeem Nicks’s history of being banged up, the Colts will consider keeping six wide receivers. Whalen and Rogers have each made that decision even easier by playing well in the preseason. They’ve each graded out around average and made some nice catches. Whalen has had more time with the first unit, while Rogers has developed a nice chemistry with elderly backup QB Matt Hasselbeck. Keeping both players feels like the right move, although it’ll mean some other position will see an extra cut.
It’s a harsh and difficult reality with an uncertain future, even for some fringe players who make the team. After the final cuts, there will be waiver wire claims and more shuffling at the bottom of the roster, and still more young guys will be cut or moved to the practice squad as veteran players come off the injured list. For now, several reserves and undrafted players will wait anxiously, hoping not to get a call.