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USA Today Sports Media Group
USA Today Sports Media Group
Kevin Hickey

Colts’ final 53-man roster projection following the preseason

The Indianapolis Colts have until Tuesday at 4:00 p.m. ET to cut the roster down to 53 players.

The roster will change throughout the season and even more likely the day after these cuts are made due to the waiver claim period. But the initial 53-man roster will lay the foundation for what the Colts want for the regular season.

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Some roster cuts will be strategic. The Colts may keep a player on the initial 53-man roster so they don’t have to subject them to waivers right away. This would be in the hope that they can sneak that player onto the practice squad later after other teams have already made their moves.

Without further ado, here’s our final 53-man roster projection for the Colts following the preseason:

Quarterback (3)

Syndication: The Indianapolis Star
Pos. First Second Third
QB Anthony Richardson Gardner Minshew Sam Ehlinger

Analysis: Our last two projections have had the Colts keeping only two quarterbacks, but they probably don’t want to risk putting Ehlinger on waivers. The return of the emergency quarterback rule also furthers the point for keeping three quarterbacks on the active roster.

Notable Cuts: None

Running Back (3)

(AP Photo/Michael Conroy)
Pos. First Second Third
RB Zack Moss Deon Jackson Evan Hull

Analysis: No one truly knows what will happen with the Jonathan Taylor saga. There have been active trade offers, and the Colts have given him a soft deadline of Tuesday to find a suitable partner. The relationship has deteriorated so much that the Colts may simply put Taylor on the reserve/PUP list if no trade is completed. That would force Taylor to miss the first four games of the season. Right now, it seems likely to be one of those two options. Moss should be ready around the time for Week 1 so he makes the cut while Jackson and Hull were far and away the best in the backfield this preseason.

Notable Cuts: Kenyan Drake, Jake Funk

Wide Receiver (5)

Syndication: The Indianapolis Star
Pos. First Second
X-WR Michael Pittman Jr.
Slot Josh Downs Isaiah McKenzie
Z-WR Alec Pierce Amari Rodgers

Analysis: The season-ending injury to Ashton Dulin is a big blow to the room, and it complicates the projection. The Colts could keep up to six wide receivers but there weren’t enough standouts for that. The fifth and final spot goes to Rodgers due to his special teams abilities. Juwann Winfree and Mike Strachan are in the conversation as well.

Notable Cuts: Mike Strachan, Breshad Perriman, Juwann Winfree

Tight End (5)

Justin Casterline/Getty Images
Pos. First Second Third
Y-TE Mo Alie-Cox Jelani Woods
F-TE Kylen Granson Drew Ogletree Will Mallory

Analysis: I’ve come around to the idea of keeping five tight ends, but Alie-Cox is far from a lock to make this roster. He dealt with an injury all preseason and played just eight snaps in the finale. Are we sure the new regime sees him as a starting option in this offense? It would be preferable to trade him rather than cutting him outright, but he will be one to watch.

Notable Cuts: Pharoah Brown

Offensive Line (9)

Syndication: The Indianapolis Star
Pos. First Second
LT Bernhard Raimann Blake Freeland
LG Quenton Nelson Carter O’Donnell
C Ryan Kelly Wesley French
RG Will Fries Arlington Hambright
RT Braden Smith

Analysis: Of all the position groups to potentially undergo big changes via the waiver wire, the offensive line takes the cake. Depth was already extremely thin, and now Danny Pinter is expected to miss the season due to a broken ankle. That injury opens up a spot for French, who had a solid preseason. Hambright makes the cut for now, but expect some active moves through the waiver wire or free agency after roster cuts are made.

Notable Cuts: Dakoda Shepley, Emil Ekiyor

Defensive Line (9)

Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports
Pos. First Second Third
DE Samson Ebukam Dayo Odeyingbo
3-Tech DeForest Buckner Taven Bryan Adetomiwa Adebawore
1-Tech Grover Stewart McTelvin Agim
DE Kwity Paye Tyquan Lewis

Analysis: The starters and most of the depth pieces are set in this room, but there are one or two spots up for grabs. I wouldn’t want to risk losing Adebawore to waivers so that really leaves one spot at defensive tackle. That comes down to Agim and second-year Eric Johnson II. I’ve been more impressed by the former this preseason but it could go either way. If the Colts opt to keep a fifth edge rusher, Khalid Kareem and rookie Titus Leo both are in the conversation.

Notable Cuts: Titus Leo, Al-Quadin Muhammad, Khalid Kareem, Eric Johnson II

Linebacker (5)

Max Gersh/IndyStar-USA TODAY Sports
Pos. First Second
WILL Shaquille Leonard Grant Stuard
MIKE Zaire Franklin
SAM E.J. Speed JoJo Domann

Analysis: I don’t love the idea of keeping only five linebackers because the position impacts special teams greatly. Stuard enjoyed a stellar preseason while he and Domann are staples on special teams. Segun Olubi could make it as a sixth backer, but the Colts may need flexibility elsewhere on the initial roster.

Notable Cuts: Segun Olubi, Donavan Mutin, Liam Anderson

Cornerback (7)

Mykal McEldowney-USA TODAY Sports
Pos. First Second Third
CB Darrell Baker Jr. Julius Brents Darius Rush
Slot Kenny Moore II Tony Brown
CB Dallis Flowers Jaylon Jones

Analysis: The three starters have essentially been locked in since the start of the preseason while all three draft picks showed enough to make the initial roster. Hopefully, Brents’ hamstring injury doesn’t force a trip to the PUP list to begin the season so we’ll monitor that. Brown gets the nod over Chris Lammons at nickel due to his special teams ability and the fact that Lammons faces a three-game suspension to begin the season so he may get transferred to the suspended list.

Notable Cuts: Isaac Taylor-Stuart, Kevin Toliver II

Safety (4)

Syndication: The Indianapolis Star
Pos. First Second
SS Julian Blackmon Nick Cross
FS Rodney Thomas II Trevor Denbow

Analysis: We’ve gone back and forth between four and five safeties. The room is finally healthy enough to keep four to start the season. Even though there were veteran additions made late in the preseason, the Colts roll with four. Henry Black just missed the cut here, but he had a strong preseason and should factor into the practice squad.

Notable Cuts: Henry Black, Marcel Dabo, Ronnie Harrison, Teez Tabor

Specialists (3)

Syndication: The Indianapolis Star
Pos. Name
P Rigoberto Sanchez
K Matt Gay
LS Luke Rhodes

Analysis: Nothing to really see here.

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