My Early Guess at the 2011 Colts’ 53-Man Roster

Bullitt watches a practice during the 2011 training camp

While I could be spending my time debating Peyton Manning vs. Ben Roethlisberger, or contemplating the idea of Brett Favre joining the Colts, I am not an idiot.  In a world full of over-reaction, this past week has been comical, and I can’t help but laugh at some of the headlines that I’ve recently read.  Colts fans calling for a Carson Palmer trade, debating a Trent Edwards or Kyle Boller signing, and numerous sources claiming that the Colts will miss the playoffs for the first time in 10 years.

Instead, I’ll try and do something a little different: I’ll try to use some logical reasoning, and actually write about something relevant to the 2011 Indianapolis Colts.  Here is my first guess as to what their 53-man roster will look like, with more specific thoughts to follow.  (Note: this is what I would like the roster to look like after training camp and 2 preseason games; not what I expect the organization to do):

QB:  Peyton Manning, Dan Orlovsky, Curtis Painter (3)

RB:  Joseph Addai, Delone Carter, Donald Brown, Devin Moore (4)

WR:  Reggie Wayne, Pierre Garcon, Austin Collie, Anthony Gonzalez, T.J. Houshmanzadeh (5)

TE:  Dallas Clark, Jacob Tamme, Brody Eldridge (3)

LT:  Anthony Castonzo, Jeff Linkenbach (2)

LG:  Joe Reitz, Jacques McClendon (2)

C:  Jeff Saturday, Jake Kirkpatrick (2)

RG:  Ryan Diem, Kyle DeVan (2)

RT:  Ben Ijalana (Link would also backup RT) (1)

24 Offensive Players

DE:  Dwight Freeney, Robert Mathis, Jerry Hughes, Jamaal Anderson, John Chick (5)

DT:  Drake Nevis, Antonio Johnson, Tommie Harris, Fili Moala, Ollie Ogbu (5)

WILL:  Kavell Conner, Ernie Sims (2)

MIKE:  Gary Brackett, Adrian Moten (2)

SAM:  Pat Angerer, Philip Wheeler (2)

CB:  Jerraud Powers, Justin Tryon, Kevin Thomas, Jacob Lacey, Chris Rucker, Free Agent* (6)

FS:  Antoine Bethea, Chip Vaughn (2)

SS:  Melvin Bullitt, Joe Lefeged (2)

26 Defensive Players

P:  Pat McAfee

K:  Adam Vinatieri

LS:  Justin Snow

3 Special Teamers

So there’s my breakdown, here are some notes:

  • *I expect the Colts to sign a Free Agent CB once cuts are made around the NFL.  Remember, they acquired Justin Tryon last season from the Redskins just one week before the regular season.
  • I still expect the team to sign T.J. Houshmanzadeh.  Anthony Gonzalez is still recovering from a hamstring injury, and Blair White has yet to practice all offseason.  We need insurance for Austin Collie, and currently there is no such player on our roster should Collie get injured.  With the signings of Harris, Sims, Anderson, and Brayton, the team has shown a willingness to bring in veteran players on a low-risk, high-reward basis.
  • I’m still hopeful that Ben Ijalana will be the starting RT to open up the season, pushing Ryan Diem inside to Guard.  It will be interesting to monitor Ijalana’s playing time with the 1st team on Friday.  Also, with Linkenbach capable of playing both LT and RT, and Diem capable (debatable) of playing RT, there’s no need for another reserve.
  • While the need for a true Kick Returner is minimized by the new kickoff rule, the Colts still need somebody they can trust.  Chad Spann fumbled twice in his only audition as a returner, Blair White is injured, and Justin Tryon should be a starting CB, which should disqualify him from return duties.  Enter Devin Moore.  Moore was entrusted as the team’s kick returner in 2010 before suffering a season-ending injury, but he appears to be 100% recovered.  Welcome aboard.
  • While the Colts traditionally only keep 2 QB’s on the 53-man roster, Bill Polian has hinted that the team would keep 3 with the uncertainty surrounding Peyton Manning.  I believe Manning will be ready to start week 1 – 100% healthy or not – but I expect both Painter and Orlovsky to make the final cut (ugh).
  • I’m beginning to like our offensive line.  A lot depends on the development of rookies Castonzo and Ijalana, but they’ve looked promising during the preseason.  Plus, they can’t be any worse than Charlie Johnson and Ryan Diem were last year.  I haven’t watched Joe Reitz very closely, but the fact that he hasn’t stuck out in preseason may be a good thing:  If our guards can simply hold their own, I’ll be satisfied.
  • Our defensive line looks very intriguing, especially our tackles.  Drake Nevis, A. Johnson, and Ollie Ogbu have been impressive against the run so far in preseason.  Nevis and Tommie Harris should provide an upgraded pass rush from the tackle position.  Also, if Jamaal Anderson can get (and stay) healthy, he can be a run-stopping DE, and a pass-rushing DT, depending on the down and distance.  I’m not convinced that we’ll see significantly better results from our DLine in 2011, but the talent and potential is certainly there.
  • I’ve never been a John Chick fan, but I was very impressed with his performance against the Redskins – enough so to warrant a spot on the 53-man roster.  He’s not extremely talented, but he possesses a solid combination of size and speed, and has an endless motor.  I also noticed his play on special teams, where he was in on several tackles thanks to his speed and angle of pursuit.  We need players like this to provide depth and special teams play.
  • I don’t know what the team will do with Blair White.  Because of his injury, I don’t think he’ll make the final roster.  However, he’s not eligible for the practice squad since he appeared in more than 6 games last season.  Maybe they start him on the Physically Unable to Perform (PUP) list, but I honestly don’t know how that would effect the 53-man roster.

Obviously things will change between now and September 3rd, when final cuts have to be made.  I plan to re-address this prediction after the meaningful 3rd preseason game on Friday, and possibly again after the meaningless 4th preseason game next weekend.  So let me know what you think; who do you see making the final roster?

Kyle J. Rodriguez

About Kyle J. Rodriguez

A film and numbers guru, Kyle writes about the NFL and the Indianapolis Colts for Bleacher Report, Draft Mecca and The Football Educator, and is a co-founder and associate editor of Colts Authority. Kyle also is a high school sports reporter for the MLive Media Group in Michigan, covering high school sports across the state.