NFL Team Report - Indianapolis Colts - INSIDE SLANT
Tough decisions are ahead for Indianapolis Colts head coach Chuck Pagano and his coaching staff as the final roster cuts are coming up this week.
"It's never easy. Like we talked, it's the harsh reality of the NFL," Pagano said after the Colts' 27-6 preseason win over the Cleveland Browns.
"These guys are giving everything they got and for some of them it's a dream come true to get into an NFL camp and have the opportunity to come and compete and try to make a roster spot. Unfortunately you got to make these cuts and so never an easy deal."
Indianapolis will take a 2-1 preseason record into Thursday night's game at Cincinnati. While the team's starters may see very limited playing time against the Bengals, it's the Colts' backups and rookie are expected to get a final look.
Save for a few starters -- such as left offensive tackle Anthony Castanzo and right offensive guard Mike McGlynn, who are injured, and a few veterans -- no decision will be made on playing time until Wednesday.
"I think there's some guys that are nicked up that we'll take a look at and make a decision whether we want to play them or not. But whether we decide to play a series or two, those are things that we'll get together and discuss as a staff as we begin preparation for this game," the Colts coach explained.
"Again, we'll look at our guys and take a look at the guys like (wide receiver) Reggie (Wayne) and (defensive end) Cory (Redding) and (outside linebacker) Robert (Mathis), some of those guys."
Pagano knows what he's got in terms of the older players. It's some of the younger starters and backups that may need more work.
"I know there were some guys last year that had got the time that played a certain amount of reps and didn't really need to play in the preseason at this point," he said.
"You might hold back. Again, there's some guys that need some more time out there. We'll talk about it as a staff and then come up with the best plan possible."
As for the final cuts, which must be done before 4 p.m. Saturday, Pagano knows it won't be easy.
"Because of what we did in free agency and through the draft and the way the roster has changed, we've got competition across the board in a lot of spots. Those spots in particular, it's going to be tough because we're going to have to make some tough decisions, obviously, and we're going to let some good players go," the coach said.
"Again, it is what it is. You have to get to 75 is one thing, but getting to 53 is another. It'll be a challenge and unfortunately there's some guys that have played really good football for us over the past month and there's going to be some good football players that unfortunately, we're going to have to let go. It'll be tough."
NFL Team Report - Indianapolis Colts - NOTES, QUOTES
--SS LaRon Landry made his first start with the Colts in the preseason game with Cleveland. Landry had been sidelined since the first week of training camp with a knee injury.
"LaRon is, coming out of the tunnel, he's one of those guys that you make sure he's first off the bus when you get to the stadium. He brings a lot to the table so it was great to have that starting unit back there," head coach Chuck Pagano said.
--ILB Pat Angerer also made his first start of the preseason. Angerer had been on the Colts' PUP list. He had returned to full practice two weeks ago.
"Pat obviously brings a ton of energy and playmaking ability. He added a spark. It was great to see him out there and I'm really happy for Pat that he's in the place that he's in. He feels better physically and mentally and the whole nine. He's not worried about anything right now so from an injury standpoint," the Colts head coach said.
--Rookie OG Hugh Thornton saw his first extended playing time with the Colts in the preseason game with Cleveland. Thornton had been sidelined with a high ankle sprain since the start of training camp.
"I thought he played really well for a guy that hasn't taken any snaps since we finished the rookie minicamp prior to training camp. He knocked off a little bit of rust but he looked pretty good in there, both in the run and the pass game. Very pleased with his performance," Pagano said.
--The Colts' running game continues to be a point of emphasis for the team's coaching staff.
Said Pagano: "It's still a work in progress. I thought our offensive line opened some holes (against Cleveland). We popped some big runs which was something we were looking to do. It's going to be a work in progress, but we're going to get better with each week. I feel good with what direction it's going right now."
--QB Andrew Luck on the Colts' preseason defense: "They've been opportunistic. Interceptions, guys getting hands on balls, sacks, you name it. They're playing their butts off, the ones, the twos, the threes all the way down. They were a pain in the butt to go against in training camp and it's nice to see them go up against someone else. But you know, I think the old adage is iron sharpens iron and we'd like to think we're both making each other better when we practice against each other. And then get to go watch them play is fun."
--Luck continues to be critiqued for his style of sliding after scramble runs:
"I don't know, I haven't figured out how to slide. I'm just going to go down and however way I go down and avoid a hit is the way it'll be."
--Luck on his ability to always seemingly find WR Reggie Wayne open downfield:
"I don't think it's ever easy. But Reggie has such a great feel for football, whether he's outside and running routes versus a press corner inside and finding that hole versus zone or creating that separation versus man, I think he just has a God-given sense for how to get open. And as a quarterback it's great to see. He's always in the right spot. He's always running away if it's man or sitting zone, doing the right thing. But he just does a good job of getting open."
--The Colts' 27-year old rookie OLB, Caesar Rayford, recorded two sacks in the Cleveland preseason game. Rayford was signed as an undrafted free agent after stints in the CFL and Arena Football League. He has five total sacks so far this preseason and is making a strong push to earn a spot on the Colts' 53-player regular season roster.
"Well, he's definitely making a case for himself and he's produced every week. It's fun to see a guy like Caesar come in from where he came from and do well. And it all goes back, to me, it all goes back to preparation. I think if you asked every man, particularly on the defensive side of the football and the coaches, the kid's here non-stop and he's constantly asking questions, asking the right questions. He practices his tail off. He not only gets reps on the defense but when we start doing the look teams in preparation for last week's game and this week's game, he's always out there," Pagano said.
"He's doing the scout team stuff on special teams. He's a football junkie. He's one of the first guys in and one of the last guys to leave the building. And so he's able to play fast. He knows exactly what to do come game day. His measurables and God-given ability, those things we talked about that you can't coach, it's unbelievable the size and length that he has. He's got a knack for edge rush, beating a guy, getting the tackle's shoulders turned and then he's got that move down pat now. I'm a firm believer in it. Again, it's going to be interesting post-Cincinnati game to see how this thing shakes out."
QUOTE TO NOTE: "I think he's way ahead. I think he started (the Cleveland preseason) game with, I think it was 9-for-10, is that right? He just seems so comfortable out there even though we changed systems and terminology. Obviously with (first-year offensive coordinator) Pep (Hamilton) coming and being familiar and the guy doesn't forget anything. He's got a photographic memory so it didn't take him probably but two days to remember the whole playbook. He just seems really comfortable. He's got great command of that huddle and great command of the offense. He's running way too much. I know that. He's running way too much. We've got to do a better job of keeping him clean. That's another dimension that people got to contend with. He's got the ability to extend plays and create. I think he's way ahead." Colts head coach Chuck Pagano on the continued development of second-year QB Andrew Luck.
NFL Team Report - Indianapolis Colts - STRATEGY AND PERSONNEL
The Colts waived CB Johnny Adams, CB Allen Chapman, OG Danous Estenor, DT Kellen Heard, P/K Brandon McManus, RB Davin Meggett, LB C.O. Prime, C Rick Schmeig and S Ashante Williams.
WR Maurice Williams was waived with an injury settlement and CB Teddy Williams (quad) was waived-injured. The team also placed OLB Lawrence Sidbury (shoulder) on Injured Reserve.
BATTLE OF THE WEEK: Right offensive guard. Veteran Mike McGlynn is the starter, but he missed the Cleveland preseason game with a knee injury. Another veteran, Jeff Linkenbach, replaced him to start the Browns game. Rookie Hugh Thornton, who had been sidelined since the start of training camp with a high ankle sprain, saw his first playing time against Cleveland and did relatively well. Thornton is expected to push McGlynn at some point for the right offensive guard position.
BIGGEST QUESTION TO BE ANSWERED: Is the Colts offensive line ever going to get better? During the offseason, Indianapolis added left offensive guard Donald Thomas and right offensive tackle Gosder Cherilus through free agency. Rookie Hugh Thornton and Khaled Holmes are expected to vie for starting roles at offensive guard and center. But they must beat out veterans Mick McGlynn and Samson Satele. The Colts hierarchy, namely general manager Ryan Grigson and head coach Chuck Pagano, do not want to see franchise quarterback Andrew Luck running as much as he did last season or as much as he has been doing during the preseason.
--OT Anthony Castanzo (knee) suffered a sprained MCL in his right knee. Castonzo was hurt in the first quarter of the Cleveland preseason game. His MRI was negative. He is hopeful of being available for the Colts' regular season opener on Sept. 8.
--WR Nathan Palmer (knee) also suffered a sprained MCL injury to his knee. While the MRI was negative, he is expected to be sidelined anywhere from four to six weeks.
--OLB Lawrence Sidbury (shoulder) is expected to get a second opinion for his injury. He was hurt in the preseason game with the New York Giants. Sidbury will most likely undergo shoulder surgery.
--WR LaVon Brazill (foot) has been sidelined for the past week. No word on how much practice time Brazil will miss. He was hurt in the Colts' preseason game with the New York Giants.
--ILB Josh McNary (hamstring) has been sidelined since the first week of training camp. He hopes to be available to play in the Colts' final preseason game with Cincinnati.
--S Joe Lefeged (calf) returned to practice a week ago and then re-injured his leg. No word as to when he will be able to return to practice.
--TE Coby Fleener (knee) did not practice last week and was held out of the Cleveland game. Fleener was hurt against the New York Giants. He expects to be able to play in the season opener with Oakland.
--TE Dwayne Allen (foot) returned to practice last week. He did not play in the preseason game with Cleveland. Allen hopes to be cleared to play against Oakland on Sept. 8.
--OG Mike McGlynn (knee) was hurt in the New York Giants preseason game. McGlynn suffered a bone bruise when he was kicked in the knee. He did not practice last week and did not play against Cleveland. McGlynn is hopeful of playing in the Sept. 8 season opener with Oakland.
--ILB Kelvin Sheppard (foot) did not practice last week and did not play in the preseason game with the Browns. It's not known when he will be able to return to the practice field.
--DE Fili Moala (knee) was activated off the Colts' PUP list early last week. He saw limited practice time but did not play in the preseason game with Cleveland. He may play on a limited basis at Cincinnati this week.
--RB Ahmad Bradshaw (foot) returned to practice last week. He may play in the final preseason game at Cincinnati. More likely, though, is that he sit out the game and be ready to go for the Colts' Sept. 8 preseason opener with Oakland.
--C Khaled Holmes (foot) was able to practice last week. He did not play in the preseason game with Cleveland. Holmes may play in the preseason game at Cincinnati this week.
--S John Boyett (knees) has been on the Colts' non-football injury list. Boyett is recovering from injuries suffered as a senior in college. No word on when he will be able to practice with the team.
FRANCHISE PLAYER: P Pat McAfee (tendered at $2.977 million; signed tender April 2).
TRANSITION PLAYER: None.
UNRESTRICTED FREE AGENTS (not tendered offers)
--OT Winston Justice (not tendered as UFA).
--RB Mewelde Moore (not tendered as UFA).
RESTRICTED FREE AGENTS: None.
EXCLUSIVE RIGHTS FREE AGENTS: None.
DRAFT CHOICES SIGNED (all picks signed)
--LB Bjoern Werner (1/24): $7,896,398/4 yrs, $4,122,836 SB/$6,414,617 guaranteed/RB $346,000 5th day 2016 league year.
--G Hugh Thornton (3/86); $2,735,380/4 yrs, $545,380 SB.
--C/G Khaled Holmes (4/121): $2,580,108/4 yrs, $420,108 SB.
--NT Montori Hughes (5/139): $2,361,972/4 yrs, $201,972.
--S John Boyett (6/192): $2,260,300/4 yrs, $100,300.
--RB Kerwynn Williams (7/230): $2,209,824/4 yrs, $49,824.
--TE Justice Cunningham (7/254): $2,205,896/4 yrs, $45,896.
--CB Darius Butler: UFA; terms 2 yrs, unknown.
--CB Josh Gordy: ERFA; 1 yr, terms unknown.
--OG Jeff Linkenbach: RFA tendered at $1.323M with no compensation); $1.323M/1 yr.
--P Pat McAfee: FFA; $2.977/1 yr.
--DE Fili Moala: Potential UFA; 1 yr, terms unknown.
--G Joe Reitz: ERFA; 1 yr, terms unknown.
--NT Martin Tevaseu: ERFA; $555,000/1 yr.
--CB Cassius Vaughn (RFA; tendered at $1.323M with no compensation); $1.323M/1 yr.
--RB Ahmad Bradshaw: FA Giants; terms unknown.
--T Gosder Cherilus: UFA Colts; $35M/5 yrs, $10M SB/$16.5M guaranteed.
--NT Aubrayo Franklin: UFA Chargers; 1 yr, terms unknown.
--QB Matt Hasselbeck: FA Titans; $8M/2 yrs.
--FB Stanley Havili (trade Eagles).
--WR Darrius Heyward-Bey: FA Raiders; $3M/1 yr, $1.5M guaranteed.
--DT Ricky Jean Francois: UFA 49ers; $22M/4 yrs, $8.5M guaranteed/$6.5M fully guaranteed.
--S LaRon Landry: UFA Jets; $24M/4 yrs, $14M guaranteed.
--WR/KR David Reed (trade Ravens).
--LB Kelvin Sheppard (trade Bills).
--LB Lawrence Sidbury: UFA Falcons; terms unknown.
--G Donald Thomas: UFA Patriots; $14M/4 yrs, $1M SB.
--CB Greg Toler: UFA Cardinals; $14.25M/3 yrs, $5M guaranteed.
--LB Erik Walden: UFA Packers; $16M/4 yrs, $8M guaranteed.
--WR Donnie Avery: UFA Chiefs; $8.55M/3 yrs, $2.25M SB/$2.55M guaranteed.
--RB Delone Carter (traded Ravens).
--WR Austin Collie: Not tendered as UFA/49ers; terms unknown.
--LB A.J. Edds: Not tendered as RFA/Dolphins; terms unknown.
--LB Moise Fokou: UFA Titans; $2.8M/2 yrs.
--LB Dwight Freeney: UFA Chargers; $8.75M/2 yrs, $3.25M SB/$4/75M guaranteed.
--DE Clifton Geathers (traded Eagles).
--G Tony Hills: Not tendered as UFA/Bills; terms unknown.
--LB Jerry Hughes (traded Bills).
--NT Antonio Johnson: UFA Titans; $850,000/1 yr, $250,000 guaranteed.
--RB/KR Deji Karim: Not tendered as RFA/Texans; terms unknown.
--G Seth Olsen: Not tendered as RFA/Vikings; terms unknown.
--CB Jerraud Powers: UFA Cardinals; $3M SB.
--C A.Q. Shipley (traded Ravens).
--QB Drew Stanton: UFA Cardinals; $8.2M/3 yrs, $3M guaranteed.
--LB Jamaal Westerman: Not tendered as UFA/Bills; terms unknown.