At this point in the preseason, each team has a significant amount of its 53-man roster already constructed. It’s the last 10 spots that typically lead to making the most difficult decisions. Which position needs the depth, who is too good to leave off the roster and is it possible to condense players into multiple positions are all questions that need to be answered within the next week.
The Indianapolis Colts are no different, and with all the roster moves they’ve made since general manager Chris Ballard took the reins, the last few spots on this roster will be even more difficult to whittle down. There have been a few standouts, and if they make the roster, nobody should be surprised.
Here are four undrafted Colts who have a legitimate shot at making the initial 53-man roster.
JoJo Natson, WR | Bug Howard, WR
Consideration all the players who can break into this receiver group, there are a couple who come to mind. Chester Rogers’ injury status, Phillip Dorsett’s ability to make a name for himself with the coaching staff and what direction Ballard plans to go during league cutdowns will tell a large part of the story.
With his ability to return kicks, Natson has proven himself to be a well-rounded option. He has shown his speed and ability to run quality routes as well. Additionally, he’s done well at finding the hole in zones to give quarterbacks an open target.
Natson’s size ultimately will make his chance to earn a roster spot difficult. At 5-foot-7 and just over 150 pounds, he lacks durability and the ability to get off press coverage, problems he’ll have to overcome.
Howard doesn’t face any size and strength issues. He needs to prove that he can show the speed and route-running ability to make it in the league. So far, Howard has done that, but hasn’t had a lot of targets through three weeks of the preseason.
Thursday’s preseason finale should change that, though. He’s got the size to be a red zone target and his large frame (6-4, 214 pounds) isn’t commonplace with Colts receivers right now. While Natson and Howard are at opposite ends of the physical spectrum, the Colts could use each extreme for what they hope to accomplish this season.
Darrell Daniels, TE
Daniels has done nicely thus far, providing an additional receiving threat from the tight end position. He has improved his ability to run block during practice and a few opportunities in the preseason. With Jack Doyle and Brandon Williams the top two options on the roster, Erik Swoope may not return to action for several weeks.
Thursday will give Daniels a chance to showcase his abilities as the all-around option battling Henry Krieger-Coble for targets and playing time. Daniels has yet to prove that he can become a downfield option, so the preseason finale will be his opportunity to do that.
The Colts coaching staff clearly likes what Daniels can offer as he’s had some snaps with the first two units. Now he just needs to put it all together.
Deyshawn Bond, OL
The Colts need depth at center, with Ryan Kelly’s injury likely keeping him out for quite a while. Adam Redmond and Bond have been working with the first group in his absence, but Bond appears to have the upper hand.
Bond struggled early, but has filled in nicely as an undrafted free agent. He is a natural guard and although Brian Schwenke came off the PUP list, there’s no guarantee that he’ll be ready to start against the Rams in Week 1 in Los Angeles. That should give Bond a real shot at making the 53-man roster and starting the season opener.
Thursday against the Cincinnati Bengals will be an interesting time for the center position. The Colts are working with three at the position right now, and it’s highly likely that Bond and any other competitors will get significant snaps as well.
Again, it comes down to Thursday’s finale, but it’s reasonable to assume that a few of these undrafted options earn a spot on the Colts initial roster.
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