Mocking the Colts: Looking Ahead to the Bengals and Final Cuts

Now that the Colts have finished making the initial cuts, the team’s focus move to their short trip to Cincinnati on Thursday. Kerry Collins’ role in the final preseason game has been a big topic of discussion for members of the media, after the team released a depth chart that listed him behind Curtis Painter.

Tom James indicates that Collins is expected to start. Phil B. Wilson reports that the team has not reached a final decision on whether Collins or Painter will start against Cincinnati, but head coach Jim Caldwell says, “he’s going to play a lot.”

Really, I’m looking at getting him the experience of operating the offense in a game-type situation. There are only so many things you can simulate in practice, but it’s a little bit different in the ballgame.

With final cuts due Saturday afternoon at 4:00 PM, it is important for the team to have a good idea where injured players are in their progress. Of the big name players who missed Monday’s practice, only Austin Collie and Ryan Diem were able to return on Tuesday. This means Anthony Gonzalez, Antonie Bethea, and Blair White did not participate. The general rule for players who don’t practice leading up to a game is that they do not play. Do not expect Gonzelez, Bethea, or White to take the field Thursday.

Head Coach Jim Caldwell took the time to discuss players who have been missing time and how it might affect decisions on Saturday. “I know [former Indianapolis coach] Tony [Dungy] used to say it quite often. He used to always say that the most important ability is availability.” While this philosophy is great as a sound bite, his other statements seem to suggest that availability may not be the “most important” when it comes to roster decisions.

Of oft-injured wide receiver Anthony Gonzalez, Caldwell said, “We know exactly what he can do. Every time he’s on the field, he makes something happen. He does a lot of things extremely well.” Unless the comments are a parting gift for a receiver the team intends to cut on Saturday after missing nearly the entire preseason with hamstring issues, they seem to indicate that Caldwell and Colts brass have no intention of cutting the former first round draft pick.

Tom James apparently does not agree:

WR Anthony Gonzalez has had injury issues and that could affect roster evaluations. Gonzalez has missed playing time in recent years due to knee and ankle problems and has been sidelined during training camp with a strained hamstring.

I still believe the team is being overly cautious with some of the players, like Collie, Bethea, and Gonzalez in particular, because the team does not need to see much of them on the field to know which direction they plan to go regarding the final roster. If Gonzalez does remain on the roster and if he returns to practice prior to the Texans game, that theory will look even more likely.

I completely agree with Colts defensive end Dwight Freeney. Earlier today he indicated to reporters that he thought this defensive line is one of the Colts best since he came to Indianapolis. “We have me and Robert [Mathis] who have been here forever, and we have some young guys that are coming up and are going to bring some new stuff.” No two units will look more different for the Colts in 2011 than their offensive and defensive lines. The defensive group, in particular, has a chance to be really special.

Freeney also clowned around with reporters who discussed his pass rush and dealing with uncalled holding penalties. Phil B. Wilson reports that Freeney said, “I would hold me too [if officials aren’t going to call holding].”

There is some speculation going around that the Colts might be interested in adding to a very packed defensive line competition by taking a flyer on recently waived Bears defensive end Vernon Gholston. When he was originally released by the New York Jets, Indy’s name was reported amongst those who were interested. The wording of the linked article, though, indicates that the author and his source are really only taking a stab in the dark. It seems unlikely this late in the game, with two free agents defensive ends already in the fold, and with a defensive line that is coming together as well as anyone could have anticipated, for the Colts to pick up Gholston.