People commonly do not pay attention to changes in the depth chart, especially during the preseason. The Colts have already reduced the roster to 75, so the team will not announce cuts today. That said, we are only five days from the final 21 player cut. We may be able to gain some insight into those cuts from the latest depth chart.
Below is the depth chart as it appears on the official Colts website. It has been altered to help analyze which players have the greatest potential to remain on the regular season roster, and which will probably not make the cut.
|QB||P. Manning||C. Painter||T. Brandstater|
|WR1||R. Wayne||A. Collie||S. Giguere||B. White|
|WR2||P. Garçon||A. Gonzalez||T. Smith||B. James|
|TE||D. Clark||C. Cloherty||B. Eldridge|
|FB/HB||G. Robinson||J. Tamme|
|RB||J. Addai||D. Brown||M. Hart||D. Moore||J. James|
|LT||C. Johnson||T. Ugoh||J. Linkenbach|
|LG||J. Richard||J. Thomas|
|C||J. Saturday||M. Pollak||A. Martinez|
|RG||K. DeVan||J. McClendon|
|RT||R. Diem||A. Terry||C. Marinelli||J. Williams|
|LE||R. Mathis||E. Foster||F. Moala||R. Mathews||J. Hughes|
|LT||D. Muir||M. King||M. Favorite|
|RE||D. Freeney||K. Dawson||J. Chick||E. Baldwin|
|SAM||P. Wheeler||V. Tuihalamaka|
|MIKE||G. Brackett||C. Glenn||P. Angerer|
|WILL||C. Session||R. Humber||K. Conner|
|FS||A. Bethea||T. Skinner||A. Hall|
|SS||B. Sanders||M. Bullitt||M. Newton|
|CB1||K. Hayden||J. Lacey||R. Fisher||G. Sharpe|
|CB2||J. Powers||D. Townsend||T. Lambert||B. King|
|PR||B. James||A. Gonzalez|
|KR||S. Giguere||B. James|
|LS||J. Snow||J. Tamme|
Never Played – Black
First Team – Blue
Second Team – Green
Third Team – Orange
Fourth Team – Purple
The depth chart has been altered to vaguely put the players into what team they have worked with most, which was difficult due to numerous injuries. As a result, three of the right tackles are listed on the second team, and may have not been playing at the position they are listed. Another example is a player like Jerry Hughes who has played in the second/third teams, but is listed as fifth on the depth chart.
Painter has not been amazing, but has performed at least as well as Tom Brandstater, earning him a spot on the second team.
Although he was out for much of training camp, as well as the first two preseason games, Garçon is still listed as the starting wide receiver. The top four receivers will split time though. Blair White, who has been very consistent in practice, is relegated to seventh overall even though Taj Smith has been unreliable and has suffered mental lapses in games. Despite his shortcoming, Smith has been targeted four or five times more than either Samuel Giguère or White.
Gijon Robinson and Brody Eldridge are the two biggest discrepancies on this list. Eldridge has been playing with the first team for most of the preseason and looks to have the starting role locked down. Robinson has been relegated to the second team in practices and in games, and has consistently underperformed both as a receiver and as a blocker, but is still listed ahead of Eldridge. Colin Cloherty has even outperformed Robinson, which makes Robinson’s placement near the top of the chart suspect.
This position has been consistent throughout off-season, but if Moore continues to dominate he could swap places with Hart in some scenarios.
The offensive line is the most convoluted portion of the depth chart. Three of the backup right tackles play on the second team line, with only Adam Terry playing tackle. While it has been reported that Tony Ugoh only has a shot at left guard, he is not even listed there. Jamey Richard, who has filled in for Jeff Saturday, is listed as the starting left guard, even though he has not played that position at all this year. Players like Chris Marinelli and James Williams also have not played at the position where they are listed.
Why so many left defensive ends? This is a complete mystery. Fili Moala has played on the second team at defensive tackle, and has not taken a snap at left defensive end. When Mookie Johnson went out last week, Moala filled in. We have also seen less Keyunta Dawson in favor of John Chick, so Dawson’s hold on the second right defensive end spot is also dubious. Finally, Hughes has not received a lot of work with the starters and has taken reps with both the second and third defense ahead of Ricardo Mathews, so his placement as the fifth left defensive end is illogical.
Other than Pat Angerer taking over for Brackett at middle linebacker, the backup linebackers have sketchy placements on the depth chart. Vuna Tuihalamaka is built like a strong-side linebacker, but has been splitting time with Cody Glenn on the second team, while Ramon Humber has taken almost all the reps at weak-side linebacker with the second team. That said, there have been numerous combinations on the field that have featured Angerer, Tuihalamaka, Glenn, Humber, and Conner on the second team in games and practice. This suggests that not only are the battles for spots competitive, they are also transient; players do not have defined positions.
Although he is listed third on the depth chart, Mike Newton has primarily worked with the second team, usually alongside Melvin Bullitt, but he has been on the field with both Sanders and Bethea. Terrell Skinner and Ashton Hall have not shown much, suggesting that even though they are listed as second and third team free safeties, it is unlikely that they will survive the final cuts.
Kelvin Hayden, Jerraud Powers, and Jacob Lacey are locked in place. The experience that Deshea Townsend brings to the backfield fills the fourth cornerback position. Ray Fisher has played sparingly on defense. Brandon King has played a couple of solid games to help bolster his standing, working primarily alongside Terrail Lambert. Glenn Sharpe signed recently, so little is known about how he will fit.
Pat McAfee and Adam Vinatieri own their spots on the depth chart, which prompted the release of Garrett Lindholm.
As for return duties, it is odd that Devin Moore is not included, especially given how well he played against the Bills. Anthony Gonzalez has not returned a single punt, so this portion of the depth chart is also suspect.
Justin Snow is and always will be our long snapper until he retires; that Jacob Tamme is listed as his backup is amusing because the roster features eight or nine linemen with experience snapping the football. Keep in mind, Snow has the second longest healthy streak on the roster, so it is unlikely Tamme will snap the football anytime in the near future.
The position of some of the players on the depth chart indicates that the Colts’ plans for players in the regular season are not accurately displayed during the preseason. Could it mean something else?
Maybe it signals that the Colts have lost faith in Tony Ugoh at left guard? Maybe the team is worried about Devin Moore’s health? Maybe the team is only experimenting with Ray Fisher and Brandon James as kickoff return specialists, but is already confident in Giguere’s abilities? Are the higher-ups starting to sour on Smith’s hit and miss performances?
Only time will tell. What do you think?