Colts: Predicting biggest names left off 53-man roster
By Jerry Trotta
It’s crazy to think the Indianapolis Colts are more than halfway through training camp.
As always, we’ll end up with a total of 20 practices, with the final 10 being split between their three preseason games, the first of which will come Sunday against the Panthers.
Unlike last season, when preseason was cancelled amid the COVID-19 pandemic, the Colts will have to trim their roster the Tuesday following a preseason game. The first deadline will come on Aug.17, when rosters will be reduced from 90 to 85 players.
A week later, another five players will come off the board. On the third and final cut date, set for Aug.31, Indy will officially reveal its 53-man roster for the 2021 campaign.
We like to think head coach Frank Reich has a good idea in terms of who he wants on the roster, but, like every year, there’s bound to be a decision or two that shocks fans.
With that in mind, let’s predict the biggest names who could be left of the 53-man roster.
Which big-name Colts players won’t make the 53-man roster?
The Colts have a stacked defensive line group, so we like to think there will be some sort of surprise at the position. With DeForest Buckner, Grover Stewart, Tyquan Lewis, Kwity Paye and Kemoko Turay locks to make the roster, Ben Banogu could find himself on the outskirts.
You also have to consider 2021 second-rounder Dayo Odeyingbo, who’s still recovering from Achilles surgery. In other words, the final spots could come down to Banogu, Al-Quadin Muhammad, Taylor Stallworth, Antwuan Woods, and Isaac Rochell.
Banogu has generated consistent pressure at camp, so that might end up saving him, but fans shouldn’t be surprised if the 2019 second-round pick, given his lack of impact over his first two seasons, is given the axe by the coaching staff.
The Colts will deliver fans the three-headed backfield that was promised last year until Marlon Mack’s season-ending Achilles injury intervened.
Widely said to be looking fully healthy at camp, Mack figures to feature as a change-of-pace behind workhorse Jonathan Taylor, while Nyheim Hines will likely maintain his role as a pass-catching specialist while also being sprinkled in as a rusher in specific packages.
With the Colts having three worthy mouths to feed, Jordan Wilkins, who didn’t make much of an impact without Mack in 2020, might end up getting cut.
The options behind Wilkins leave a lot to be desired, but with three capable RBs leading the way, Indy can afford to roll the dice on someone like undrafted rookie Deon Jackson.
As crazy as it sounds, those are the only recognizable names that could be left off the 53-man roster. Expect a shake-up at the wide receiver position with Mike Strachan making a case for a roster spot, but the biggest potential cuts there would be Ashton Dulin or DeMichael Harris.
If nothing else, the fact we could only include two names on the list just speaks to general manager Chris Ballard’s ability to cultivate a roster. The Colts are so deep at every position that they can’t even justify cutting some of their lesser-known players. That’s bonkers!
If that isn’t a reason to feel good heading into 2021, then nothing is.