Colts 53-player roster: How it stacks up, for now

Indy Blitz

(Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)

INDIANAPOLIS – The Indianapolis Colts have settled on their 53-player active roster.

For now.

But after a flurry of moves to reach 53 Tuesday afternoon, general manager Chris Ballard, coach Frank Reich and the personnel staff will be doing some significant tweaking and tinkering in the coming days.

A few players – wideout T.Y. Hilton (neck) and rookie quarterback Sam Ehlinger (knee) – probably are headed to the short-term injured reserve list. That means missing at least the first three games of the season.

When left tackle Eric Fisher (Achilles) is removed from the COVID-19 list, the Colts must make another move. That means either activating him, placing him on IR or leaving him on the physically unable to perform list. The latter means missing at least eight games.

For now, quarterback Carson Wentz, center Ryan Kelly and wideout Zach Pascal, all of whom are on the COVID-19 list as close-contact cases, do not count against the 53. Once they’re cleared to return, corresponding moves must be made.

As the roster currently stands, it includes five rookies, all members of the 2021 draft class. A sixth, defensive end Dayo Odeyingo, is on the physically unable to perform list (PUP) as he continues his rehab from a torn Achilles.

Also, the team’s streak of 22 consecutive seasons with at least one undrafted rookie making the opening-day roster – the NFL’s longest active streak – is in jeopardy. It could be extended if Indy adds an appropriate player in the coming days, either via waivers or as a free agent.

Finally, many of the players waived or released Tuesday could return as part of the 16-man practice squad which can be formed Wednesday.

The breakdown:

OFFENSE (23)

(* rookie)

Quarterbacks (2)

  • Jacob Eason
  • Sam Ehlinger*

Wentz boosts the number to three when he’s removed off the COVID-19 list, but it goes back to two if/when Ehlinger goes on IR. We wouldn’t argue one bit if Ballard and Reich target another QB. We wouldn’t argue one bit if that QB had some legitimate NFL experience.

Running Backs (4)

  • Jonathan Taylor
  • Marlon Mack
  • Nyheim Hines
  • Jordan Wilkins

The gang’s all back. This remains a strength of the team and one of the deepest units in the NFL.

Wide Receivers (6)

  • T.Y. Hilton
  • Michael Pittman Jr.
  • Parris Campbell
  • Mike Strachan*
  • Dezmon Patmon
  • Ashton Dulin

There probably is a tradeoff looming. Hilton goes on IR and Pascal returns to the active roster from the COVID-19 list. The time is now for Pittman to take that big step from year 1 to year 2, and for Campbell to stay on the field and fulfill the expectations that followed him into the NFL as the 59th overall pick in the 2019 draft.

Tight Ends (3)

  • Jack Doyle
  • Mo Alie-Cox
  • Kylen Granson*

This might be a position that’s addressed in the next few days. Reich makes liberal use of his tight ends, and adding a fourth shouldn’t be ruled out.

Offensive Line (8)

  • G – Quenton Nelson
  • T – Braden Smith
  • G – Mark Glowinski
  • T – Julién Davenport
  • G – Chris Reed
  • C/G – Danny Pinter
  • T – Matt Pryor
  • T/G – Will Fries*

Again, change is coming. Kelly probably returns to the active roster later this week from the COVID-19 category, and within the next month Fisher is expected to complete his rehab from the torn Achilles.

DEFENSE (27)

Line (11)

  • DT – DeForest Buckner
  • DT – Grover Stewart
  • DE – Kwity Paye*
  • DE – Tyquan Lewis
  • DE – Al-Quadin Muhammad
  • DE – Kemoko Turay
  • DE – Ben Banogu
  • DT Chris Williams
  • DE Isaac Rochell
  • DT Taylor Stallworth
  • DT Antwaun Woods

Coordinator Matt Eberflus loves to rotate his d-line to keep everyone fresh, but 11 is a big number even by his standards. This might be an area that offers a roster spot if one is needed to address another position.

Linebacker (6)

  • Darius Leonard
  • Bobby Okereke
  • Zaire Franklin
  • Matthew Adams
  • Jordan Glasgow
  • E.J. Speed

As was the case at running back, this is a familiar group. All had seats in the room last season.

Cornerback (6)

  • Xavier Rhodes
  • Kenny Moore II
  • T.J. Carrie
  • Rock Ya-Sin
  • Marvell Tell III
  • Isaiah Rodgers

Carrie’s uncertain status with a shoulder injury bears monitoring. Also, from what we saw during training camp, Rodgers might be ready to be more than a kick return specialist.

Safety (4)

  • Khari Willis
  • Julian Blackmon
  • George Odum
  • Andre Chachere

Willis and Blackmon form a dynamic starting unit. Odum remains one of the NFL’s best special teams contributors, and Chachere impresses the coaching staff with his corner/safety versatility.

SPECIAL TEAMS (3)

  • Kicker: Rodrigo Blankenship
  • Punter: Rigoberto Sanchez
  • Longsnapper: Luke Rhodes

Solid, solid, solid.

RESERVE/COVID-19

  • QB – Carson Wentz
  • C – Ryan Kelly
  • WR – Zach Pascal
  • OT – Eric Fisher

PHYSICALLY UNABLE TO PERFORM

  • DE – Dayo Odeyingbo*

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You can follow Mike Chappell on Twitter at @mchappell51.

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