10 takeaways from Colts’ roster cuts, waiver claims

·6 min read

The Indianapolis Colts have made the necessary moves over the last week to trim the roster down to 53 players while making cuts and waiver claims.

The roster is never set in stone and will constantly be changing. The foundation is set, for the most part, but the back-end depth roles will always be rotating between players due to injuries and performance.

With final roster cuts and the big surge of waiver claims having passed, here are 10 takeaways for the Colts:

Sam Ehlinger makes it...for now

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It became apparent throughout the preseason that Ehlinger was making a strong case for a spot on the roster despite the fact that the Colts already had Matt Ryan and Nick Foles. Most teams wouldn’t even consider keeping a third quarterback.

But Ehlinger earned his spot on the roster by having an immaculate preseason. The question now remains: how long will they keep him on the roster?

General manager Chris Ballard was convinced Ehlinger would have been claimed if waived in an attempt to get him on the practice squad.

“I have no question. I think he earned a spot. He earned a spot,” Ballard said of other teams potentially claiming Ehlinger.

At some point, they are going to need that extra spot for depth at other positions. But for now, Ehlinger is on the 53-man roster.

A surprising cut

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If you’re wondering how much special teams plays a role in the RB3 spot for the Colts, just ask Phillip Lindsay, Throughout the entirety of training camp and the preseason, Lindsay was the clear third back behind Jonathan Taylor and Nyheim Hines.

However, the role came down to choosing the player with the most upside on special teams. So the Colts went with second-year back Deon Jackson instead.

“I mean look, Phillip’s great and I’m not ruling out ever bringing him back again but Deon (Jackson), he did some good things too,” Ballard said Wednesday. “The special teams gave him the nod without question and that’s important.”

It was a surprising move considering Lindsay is the type of insurance teams want to have in case their starter goes down.

Mike Strachan survives

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Despite missing most of the spring and the majority of training camp, Strachan showed enough promise to survive roster cuts. That doesn’t mean he still isn’t on the bubble. But the flashes he showed against the Detroit Lions in the preseason, along with the work he’s done in practice since his return from knee surgery, proved to be enough for him to make the roster.

“We like Strachan’s talent. Coming off the knee, only having a few days of real work – when he came back and you get three or four days work and then you start really cranking it up and playing, that’s tough. But we like Mike’s talent,” said Ballard.

One waiver claim

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The Colts wound up making just one successful waiver claim following final roster cuts, and it came at a position of need. Luke Tenuta, an offensive tackle waived by the Buffalo Bills, was claimed by the Colts. A sixth-round pick out of Virginia Tech in the 2022 NFL draft, Tenuta is a massive player (6’9″, 322 pounds). He’s still a work in progress—as all rookies are—but will be competing for the backup right tackle role.

Edge rushers galore

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One of the big question marks during roster predictions pertained to how many edge rushers would make the roster. It always seemed to come down to whether Ifeadi Odenigbo would make the roster after his strong showing in the preseason. That wound up being enough for him to make the roster, and the Colts are likely walking into the opening week with six edge rushers.

Versatile roles for Odeyingbo, Lewis

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One of the reasons the Colts feel they can keep so many edge rushers is because of the versatility from Dayo Odeyingbo and Tyquan Lewis. While both players are listed as edge rushers, they each will see plenty of work on the interior at the three-technique defensive tackle spot as well. That versatility has always been regarded highly by the Colts.

Eerily similar trade

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Going into his sixth season as the general manager, Chris Ballard has made it known that he’s not afraid to wheel and deal. For the second year in a row, he made a trade at the roster cut deadline, and it was almost exactly the same as the year before. In 2021, the Colts sent a sixth-round pick to the Philadelphia Eagles in exchange for offensive tackle Matt Pryor and a seventh-round pick. Pryor is currently the starting left tackle. Ballard did the exact same deal, except this time he acquired linebacker/special teamer Grant Stuard.

“We had a chance to acquire Grant (Stuard), who we think as special teams player is really special,” Ballard said. “We lost some guys, so we’ve kind of been looking for that guy that can come in and fill that role. Kind of like (Jordan) Glasgow did, Matt Adams. This kid we think is pretty special on teams.

Starting a new UDFA streak

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After a streak of more than 20 years of an undrafted rookie making the initial Week 1 roster was snapped in 2021, the Colts started a new streak. Four undrafted rookies wound up making the initial 53-man roster, including cornerback Dallis Flowers, linebacker Jojo Domann, center/guard Wesley French and safety Trevor Denbow. Unfortunately, Denbow was placed on the injured reserve list and will miss at least the first four games.

Rookies who made it

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Piggybacking off of the UDFAs, the Colts will have a strong presence of rookies on the roster. Only one of the eight draft picks was waived during final roster cuts (Curtis Brooks), and he was re-signed to the practice squad. Had tight end Andrew Ogletree not suffered a torn ACL, he likely would have made the roster. So the Colts will go into the season with 10 rookies—six draft picks, four UDFAs—on the roster. Players like wide receiver Alec Pierce and safety Nick Cross will be considered starters.

Sterling Weatherford claimed by Bears

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It’s always a risky game when final roster cuts come around. Teams will often try to sneak a player onto the practice squad without knowing how closely other teams have watched a certain player. This seemed to be the case with Weatherford, a training camp darling who wound up being claimed by the Chicago Bears.

“They’re all freaking hard. You obsess over it, you know, they’re all hard. We lost Sterling (Weatherford) to – that was a hard one losing Sterling, because we like Sterling and Chicago claimed him, so that was hard,” Ballard said.

It was a tough break considering that most thought he would make the roster, but now he has a chance to break out in Matt Eberflus’ defense.

Story originally appeared on Colts Wire