For the fourth and final time, Stampede Blue's Josh Wilson predicts the 53-man roster as the last preseason game is now officially over.
Before training camp began, I made my initial prediction of the Colts' 53-man roster. I did it again after training camp ended. And then again after the third preseason game. If you're getting sick of reading these predictions by now, you're in luck - this is my last one. Because beginning today and tomorrow, NFL teams will be making cuts to get down to 53 - the number they must be at by Saturday.
With the fourth and final preseason game now over, let's take one last look at my 53-man roster predictions:
Ahmad Bradshaw, Dan Herron, Zurlon Tipton
Deji Karim, David Fluellen
Vick Ballard (IR)
Stanley Havili (PUP)
T.Y. Hilton, Reggie Wayne
Hakeem Nicks, Donte Moncrief, Griff Whalen
Da'Rick Rogers, Ryan Lankford, Josh Lenz
Erik Swoope, Weslye Saunders
Donald Thomas (IR), Ulrick John (IR)
Cory Redding (DE), Josh Chapman (NT), Arthur Jones (DE)
Ricky Jean Francois, Montori Hughes, Zach Kerr
Gannon Conway, Tyler Hoover, Nnamdi Obukwelu, Brandon McKinney
Fili Moala (IR), Jeris Pendleton (IR)
Bjoern Werner, Erik Walden, [Robert Mathis after suspension]
Jonathan Newsome, Andy Studebaker
Cam Johnson, Phillip Hunt
Daniel Adongo (IR), Aaron Morgan (IR)
Jerrell Freeman, D'Qwell Jackson
Josh McNary, Henoc Muamba, Kelvin Sheppard
Shawn Loiseau (IR)
Vontae Davis, Greg Toler
LaRon Landry, Mike Adams
Delano Howell (IR -D2R**)
Adam Vinatieri (K), Pat McAfee (P), Matt Overton (LS)
You might have noticed a few changes from my post-camp predictions, so I'll note every one of them and explain my reasoning below:
Ok, I caved. On my last roster prediction, I had the Colts going without a fullback until Stanley Havili returns. And I still think that could happen. But I just really don't see that as the most likely option to actually happen. Mario Harvey has not impressed this preseason, and even if the Colts do keep him on the roster, I fully expect the use of a fullback to significantly decrease until Havili returns. So while I don't think Harvey will be as utilized or see as much playing time, I just don't think Pep Hamilton and the Colts will go without a fullback. I want them to, yes, but I just don't know if that will actually happen.
One notable change I have on this roster compared to my past ones is no Weslye Saunders at tight end, leaving just three guys there. Honestly, the main reason for this didn't have to do with Saunders but rather the need for a roster spot. It might be risky for the Colts (who like running a two tight end offense) to keep just three tight ends, but I have them keeping a fullback and there are other spots on the roster that need addressed, too. Additionally, if the Colts aren't using Allen and Fleener as their two tight ends, I'd expect them to move to a more three wide receiver offense instead.
One of the biggest things I had to contemplate and decide between was whether to keep Cam Johnson or Andy Studebaker as the fourth outside linebacker. On the one hand, Johnson is a better pass rusher, which the Colts could use with Robert Mathis suspended. But while Johnson provides pass rush, Studebaker provides more versatile depth. He can play outside or inside, providing good depth, but most significantly is a huge help on special teams. I could see the Colts going either way here, but I'm sticking with Studebaker.
Six cornerbacks? Yes, I have the Colts keeping both Loucheiz Purifoy and Marcus Burley. Both have had very impressive camps and preseasons. If one were to get cut, it would likely be Burley, but at this point I have both of them making the roster.
One of the most important notes I need to make here is what I did with Delano Howell. Understand that we simply don't know what's really going on with him, nor do we know how long he will be out. Chuck Pagano keeps saying that he's still being evaluated, and I think that the Colts aren't fully sure what to expect in terms of how long Howell will be out. So, on this list I have Howell being placed on injured reserve with the designation to return - which essentially means he would be out for about half the season, at least. I'm just guessing here, but I would be surprised if Howell returns early in the season. But again, we'll see.
With the injury to offensive lineman Joe Reitz (a high ankle sprain), the Colts simply must add more depth along the offensive line. I have guard Josh Walker making the team, but hear this very clearly - I expect the Colts to scour the waiver wire of other team's cuts to make the team along the line, probably meaning Walker will be cut eventually.
Oh yes, Da'Rick Rogers. I have him NOT making the 53-man roster for the first time in all four of my roster predictions. And I think that's a very, very real possibility. Firstly, he entered the game as the number six wide receiver, whether you'd like to admit it or not (hey, maybe I do know what I've been talking about all along...). Secondly, the fact that Griff Whalen didn't play tonight showed that he's pretty much cemented as the fifth receiver. Thirdly, the fact that Da'Rick Rogers played the entire game is not a good sign. And fourth, when you're very much on the bubble, when you catch a touchdown pass you probably shouldn't punt the ball and draw a penalty. Oh, and lest you don't believe me yet again when I talk about Rogers, I'm not the only one thinking this:
#colts TD catch by Da'Rick Rogers. And the moron draws a flag for punting the ball. See ya.
— Mike Chappell (@mchappell51) August 29, 2014
Da'Rick Rogers might not make the roster as a WR, so instead he wants to audition for punter? Idiotic play
— Stephen Holder (@HolderStephen) August 29, 2014
Da'Rick Rogers is like that basketball player you see on ESPN with all the spectacular dunks but can't hit a jump shot or free throw.
— Tom James (@TribStarTJames) August 29, 2014
Rogers may make the team as a sixth wide receiver. But after tonight's game, with the injury to Reitz and the performance by Rogers, I have him on the outside looking in.
Thoughts on the final 53-man roster prediction?