As the dust settles from the list of cuts on Saturday, the Colts decided to bank on some of the younger talent on the roster. One of those players looks to be rookie linebacker Antonio Morrison.
The Colts made their final cuts on Saturday to trim their roster to 53 players for the upcoming season. Among these cuts, no surprise was as big as the release of Nate Irving. Irving was the frontrunner for the second inside linebacker spot, starting opposite of D’Qwell Jackson after the team lost Jerrell Freeman to the Chicago Bears back in March.
The release of Irving comes as a surprise, but there has to be a reason. Irving has had a history of injuries and never seemed to be back to playing full strength during his stint with the Colts. This release could be injury related, but Irving is two years removed from his ACL tear and his release is likely because of GM Ryan Grigson’s confidence in rookie ILB Antonio Morrison.
Morrison, a fourth round pick seemed like a steal from the start. At 6’1″ and 230 pounds, he’s smaller in size than the NFL’s top inside linebackers, NaVorro Bowman and Luke Kuechly. But his size and style of play is similar to Pittsburgh Steelers’ potential star linebacker, Ryan Shazier. Shazier also received doubt coming out of college, but the linebacker showed last year that he is more than capable of playing at the NFL level.
Antonio Morrison showed throughout the preseason that he is ready to play in the NFL. He lead all rookies in tackles during the 2016 preseason and showed doubters that he is more than capable of playing at the next level. It wouldn’t be a bad move for Morrison to put on some weight and bulk up, but the young Florida star seems like the future ILB for the Colts.
The Colts will likely start Sio Moore opposite of D’Qwell Jackson this season, but Grigson wouldn’t have let Irving go without clear confidence in Morrison. While Morrison may not start this year, he looks like the right fit for this defense as one of the two inside linebackers for years to come.