At First Glance: Offense Roster Analysis
Peyton Manning (Getty)
Peyton Manning (Getty)

Posted Sep 3, 2006


Just as they did last year, the Indianapolis Colts will make some key adjustments to their 53-man roster over the next couple of days. But in the meantime, here's Ed Thompson's offense roster analysis based on how it stands today ... at first glance.

Wide receivers: The Colts kept six wide receivers, including Terrence Wilkins who will help with returns work as Troy Walters did last year. The similarities between the two players are striking, although Wilkins packs a bit more muscle and is a bit more daring at times during returns. Marvin Harrison, Reggie Wayne and Brandon Stokley are still arguably the best receivers trio in the NFL. Friday night, I pointed out the very conspicuous absence of Aaron Moorehead against the Bengals as a signal that he was being rested just like the starters. So Friday night's competition for the final two receiver slots came down to Wilkins, John Standeford, Ed Hinkle and Marc Boerigter.

Standeford, who was the team's leading receiver during the preseason (10-193-1 TD) showed his ability to make big catches. He also had the team's longest catch of the preseason (45 yards) and the best average per catch (19.3 yds). He's really matured over the past two years on the practice squad. Boerigter didn't do anything to distinguish himself during his short tenure with the Colts and clinched his cut when he showed off one of his chronic problems Friday night when he dropped an easy touchdown pass. In deciding between Hinkle and Wilkins, there wasn't much choice due to Wilkins' returns talent. Hinkel has lots of upside and should replace Standeford on the practice squad if he's not signed to the regular roster of another club -- such as the Ravens, who only released him earlier this year because they were worried that his broken arm wasn't fully healed yet. Teams like the Vikings and Eagles who are scrambling for some WR talent could also take a look at him for their roster.

Running backs: Friday night the Colts were able to see that neither Tony Hollings or Jonathan Wells were going to be the short-yardage back that they need. The only running backs on the roster as of Sunday morning were Dominic Rhodes, Joseph Addai and Kory Chapman. The Colts need at least four on the roster, so they claimed Cincinnati's DeDe Dorsey, who has good speed and has good hands out of the backfield. ColtPower's Jerry Langton will have a Colt Scout feature with more details about Dorsey this week for our Insiders.

Quarterbacks: It's doubtful that Peyton Manning left a phone number where he could be reached on cuts day, unless it was simply to make himself available for input on players the team should keep. The real shocker was that they didn't call Jim Sorgi since he's experienced chronic shoulder problems since early this year. For a team that traditionally only keeps two quarterbacks on the roster, this raises a real issue. Although Manning is very durable, if he should get injured in a game, and then Sorgi folds after a few hits to his shoulder in the same game, you could see punter Hunter Smith taking some snaps to finish out the contest. And with the level of talent in the AFC these days, one game can determine an awful lot about your playoff position. Teams are putting more emphasis on their talent level and reliability of their No. 2 quarterback these days, and while Sorgi's talent can be debated, his reliability from a durability perspective is very suspect. Scout.com's NFL expert, Adam Caplan suggested that the Colts might simply wait a week to re-sign veteran Shaun King who saw the bulk of the preseason action at quarterback. He completed 62% of his passes in the preseason for 563 yards, 2 touchdowns and 3 interceptions despite facing heavy pressure on most passing downs. Since he's a high-tenured veteran, the Colts have to pay him for a full season if he's on the initial roster, so Caplan could be right about Smith making a return to the roster. With Sorgi entering the last year of his contract, this is one roster move that just doesn't add up. So don't be surprised if another move is made here within the next week or so.

Tight Ends: The Colts really like their four tight ends for the variety of skills they present as a group. Dallas Clark has the complete package of route-running, blocking and great hands. Ben Utecht made major strides to round-out his game and should be the No. 2 tight end for the season opener. Bryan Fletcher continues to be very reliable with his pass-catching ability and can easily step in whenever needed. The surprise out of this group is Ben Hartsock, who has been plagued by a hamstring injury that forced him to miss the entire preseason. The Colts obviously like his blocking ability enough to weather the short-term injury trouble in hopes that he'll be able to contribute this season.

Offensive Line: Just as they've done with Corey Simon and Adam Vinatieri, the Colts are keeping the status of starting left guard Ryan Lilja under wraps other than to say that they're uncertain as to what's causing the problem with his knee. Lilja isn't talking about it either. Meanwhile, 2nd-year lineman Dylan Gandy out of Texas Tech showed that he's certainly capable of stepping in over the past few preseason games. Gandy has also gotten some work earlier this year as a backup center. Other than Gandy, the Colts will start the same four at the other positions -- Tarik Glenn and Ryan Diem at tackle, Jake Scott at guard and Jeff Saturday at center. The Colts kept both of their draft picks -- 5th-rounder Michael Toudouze out of TCU and 6th-rounder Charlie Johnson out of Oklahoma State. Both showed during the preseason that they can play at this level. The team will need at least one, possibly two players for depth on the practice squad. Bo Lacy, who was on the practice squad last year should get another shot there. And either undrafted rookie Russ Tanner, or a brand new face from yesterday's cuts from around the league, should fill another practice squad spot.



Related Stories
Crosby Waived, Wilkins Returns
 -by ColtsDaily.com  Jun 1, 2006
Terrence Wilkins on Sirius NFL Radio
 -by ScoutNFLNetwork.com  Jan 21, 2007
Terrence Wilkins: "It's All Instinct"
 -by ColtsDaily.com  Jan 31, 2007

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