[caption id="" align="aligncenter" width="260" caption="Who rounds out the Colts' 53-man roster largely depends on Jim Caldwell and Bill Polian"][/caption] Back on August 23rd, I gave my first prediction at the Colts' final 53-man roster. Since then, the Colts have signed Kerry Collins and Michael Hamlin, and released 8 players - including kick returner Devin Moore. I planned to re-address the roster situation this week, especially after the Colts played the Packers in the "dress rehearsal" 3rd preseason game. So here is my 2nd guess at the Colts' 53-man roster. (Mind you, this is who I think should make the team, not a guess as to whom Bill Polian thinks should make the team): QB: Peyton Manning, Kerry Collins, Curtis Painter (3) RB: Joseph Addai, Delone Carter, Donald Brown, Javarris James (4) WR: Reggie Wayne, Pierre Garcon, Austin Collie, David Gilreath, T.J. Houshmanzadeh (5) TE: Dallas Clark, Jacob Tamme, Brody Eldridge (3) LT: Anthony Castonzo, (1) LG: Joe Reitz, Jacques McClendon (2) C: Jeff Saturday, Jake Kirkpatrick (2) RG: Ryan Diem, Kyle DeVan (2) RT: Jeff Linkenbach, Ben Ijalana (2) 24 Offensive Players DE: Dwight Freeney, Robert Mathis, John Chick, Jamaal Anderson, Jerry Hughes (5) DT: Antonio Johnson, Drake Nevis, Tommie Harris, Fili Moala, Ricardo Mathews (5) WILL: Ernie Sims, Kavell Conner (2) MIKE: Gary Brackett, Adrian Moten (2) SAM: Pat Angerer, Philip Wheeler (2) CB: Jerraud Powers, Justin Tryon, Jacob Lacey, Kevin Thomas, Chris Rucker, Free Agent* (6) SS: Melvin Bullitt, Joe Lefeged (2) FS: Antoine Bethea, Michael Hamlin/Free Agent* (2) 26 Defensive Players P: Pat McAfee K: Adam Vinatieri LS: Justin Snow 3 Special Teamers Here are my thoughts:
- A few points about the WR situation: Anthony Gonzalez was likely heading into his final season with the Colts, regardless of his performance this year. Injuries have clearly de-railed his career, and they are now threatening his chance at a roster spot this season. I have no confidence in his ability to stay healthy, which renders him useless to this team. If the front office is relying on him to be a contributor in 2011, that's a huge mistake.
- David Gilreath makes the team as the 4th WR after an impressive performance against the Packers (2 catches 13 yards, TD/30-yard punt return). He'll provide some depth at the WR position, and may start week 1 as the team's full-time punt returner.
- I still believe the Colts will sign T.J. Houshmanzadeh. I reported weeks ago that the 2 sides were close to an agreement, but that clearly fell through. The fact that Housh hasn't signed elsewhere is an indication that he's been awaiting an injury (Anthony Gonzalez) to a team in order to be guaranteed a bigger role (and a bigger contract). The team benefits by signing him after the start of the season because the contract wouldn't be guaranteed.
- I'm becoming more optimistic that Peyton Manning will be ready to start week 1, but still expect the Colts to keep 3 active QB's. Kerry Collins is guaranteed a roster spot given his massive contract, and while Curtis Painter lacks the physical ability, he possesses other qualities that the Colts value.
- My previous prediction had rookie Ben Ijalana starting at RT, but it appears he's not quite ready for that role. Ijalana didn't see any preseason action with the 1st team, which is an indication that he'll start the season as a backup. I don't feel comfortable with Jeff Linkenbach as a starter, but with Ryan Diem moving inside to guard, the team simply has no other options.
- I was very close to leaving Donald Brown off the list, but it's simply too early to give up on him. I've always believed that Brown would be a very effective runner behind a good offensive line, but the Colts don't have a good offensive line (yet, at least). Joseph Addai has looked phenomenal and Delone Carter has been impressive as a rookie, which demotes Brown to a 3rd stringer. He has improved his pass blocking, so maybe there's hope afterall.
- Man, I like our defensive front on paper. Assuming Robert Mathis' hamstring injury isn't serious, the Colts sport the best pass-rushing combo in the league. But for the first time in a long time, the Colts also sport a pair of run-stopping defensive ends in Jamaal Anderson and John Chick. I was extremely impressed with Chick this offseason, both on defense and special teams, and Anderson graded out as the 6th-best DE against the run in 2010. The Colts rotated these ends against the Packers, and it worked out quite well: Freeney racked up 2 sacks, and the Packers managed just 45 rushing yards on 19 attempts. Antonio Johnson, Drake Nevis, and Tommie Harris should be a significant upgrade at DT over
the crap we had last yearDan Muir and Fili Moala (who looks improved this season).
- I still expect the Colts to sign a veteran CB once rosters are trimmed around the league. I don't like anyone currently on the Colts' roster as a 6th CB, and as I noted earlier, the Colts acquired Justin Tryon last year just before the start of the season. I also don't know what to make of the Michael Hamlin signing. If the Colts don't make any more moves at safety, he'll make the 53-man roster, but he'll be competing with other team's leftovers between now and September 3rd.
- David Gilreath will handle punt returns and Joe Lefeged will handle kick returns.