The Indianapolis Colts announced on Thursday that the team has activated outside linebacker Trent Cole off of their injured reserve and waived backup quarterback Stephen Morris in a corresponding roster move.
Earlier this week, Cole was designated as the Colts player to be potentially activated off of their injured reserve, and it looks as though it happened sooner than initially expected–as the Colts had 3 weeks to actually activate Cole before he’d revert to season-ending injured reserve.
The timing could be directly correlated to veteran pass rusher Robert Mathis battling a bicep injury and still being unable to practice this week, as Cole could immediately step into the starting lineup on Monday night against the New York Jets in the former’s absence.
If nothing else, he should see a prominent role in the team’s outside linebacker rotation from the get-go.
While Cole has been somewhat underwhelming as a pass rusher, having just 3.0 sacks in 16 games with the Colts, he’s at least proven to be serviceable as an outside linebacker for the team in his 2-year tenure.
Specifically, per Pro Football Focus (subscription), his pass rushing grade of +72.4 this season is the 51st best of “edge defenders” just behind the Seattle Seahawks Michael Bennett, tied with the Cleveland Browns Jamie Collins, and ahead of the Chicago Bears Pernell McPhee respectively.
Similarly, his run defense grade of +71.1 is the 50th best among “edge defenders”.
Cole’s sack total simply hasn’t been there, but he can theoretically be a decent option for the Colts in their pass rushing rotation and against the run–especially if Mathis ultimately misses a game or two.
Of course, the other encouraging news (although not necessarily for the player) is that the Colts released their 3rd-string quarterback, Morris, which means that the team must be confident that starting quarterback Andrew Luck will soon be cleared from the league’s concussion protocol.
There’s no need to carry three quarterbacks on the active roster upon Luck’s return, and it would be surprising if Morris isn’t re-signed to the Colts practice squad–assuming he clears waivers.