1. Taj Smith:
Heading into the preseason, Smith was a guy to watch
because he might steal away the third receiver job away from Austin Collie
. Now, he will need a big game in order to remain on the
Collie and Garcon established themselves early on in the preseason
and have built on that momentum. Smith has languished, only touching the
ball once — on a kick return — and has only been targeted twice. The
Colts have already severed ties with one promising project in Roy Hall.
Smith may be the second casualty, as the move towards expecting results, not
promises and upside, as the games start to be played for real.
Can Painter do enough to create a roster spot for himself?
Scott Boehm/Getty Images
2. Curtis Painter: Painter has been a pleasant surprise so far this
offseason and preseason, quickly picking up the offense, staying with the play,
not turning and running, and keeping his eyes focused up the field, all with the
guile and savvy of a more veteran player. However, Jim Sorgi has a
stranglehold on the backup job, so Painter likely has too much to overcome in
order to supplant Sorgi.
The wrinkle is this: If Painter does well enough that Indianapolis wants to
keep him around, then they can waive him and sign him to the practice squad.
But if does well enough that other teams will want him on their team, then the
Colts won't be able to waive him and will need to keep him on the roster.
Aside from the fans in attendance and those watching from home, the other
stakeholders that will be tuned into Thursday night's slot of games are general
managers and scouts from around the league. Quarterback depth is very thin
all across the NFL. If Painter catches the eye of some GM or scout — and
having a big game will cement his status as a young player on the rise — then
Indianapolis won't be able to waive him if they want to keep him.
could always take a chance, but with Sorgi's lingering hamstring issue and the
fact they can't keep only two quarterbacks on the roster forever, waiving
Painter will probably be too much of a risk for Bill Polian to take.
3. Freddy Keiaho: Now that Philip Wheeler has been inserted in the
starting lineup, Jordan Senn continues to impress, and Ramon Humber has been
turning heads, Keiaho now finds himself on the outside looking in.
Colts originally did not retain Keiaho this offseason, signing him well after
the start of free agency when he found himself without any other interested
suitors. Tyjuan Hagler is in basically the same position, but has seen
some work as Clint Session's backup and can play both outside linebacker
positions in the defense. Gary Brackett, the captain of the defense, isn't
going anywhere and Indianapolis will probably only keep six linebackers heading
into the season.
They've cut ties with Keiaho before and although he has a history with the
team, he also has the most unfavorable injury history of the players in the
running for roster spots. He needs to make a big impact, playing against
the second or third team for Cincinnati.
If nothing else, he can catch the
eye of a team that passed on him earlier this year, such as the Buffalo Bills,
that might be looking for quality depth.
4. Eric Foster: The goodwill that Foster accumulated last season seems
like it was five seasons away. Indianapolis is looking to get bigger up
the middle in an attempt to fix their run defense and, as a carryover from the
"soft middle" of 2008, Foster's goodwill from last season is pretty much
destroyed. He still has more starts than anyone at the position not named
Ed Johnson, though, so the coaching staff will give him a fair shake, even if
he's also a carryover from the Ron Meeks era.
He obviously does not have the type of build that they are looking for from
an interior defender on running downs and base packages, but, if he is able to
show that he can get to the quarterback, he could line himself up to be an
emergency option at nose tackle and under tackle, as well as a sub package
option for when the defensive line can pin their ears back and rush the passer.
At this point, he's a long shot to make the 53-man roster, but he still has a
5. Josh Thomas: Although he has an extensive history with the team and
knows the system, he also has an extensive history of only being a player that
the Colts look to when all other options are exhausted. He's a quality run
defender and has proven himself to be a reliable option as a last option, but he
is also a player that has to show he can get to the quarterback.
All signs point to him not being able to deliver, but he's also lasted this
long. Maybe he has one more life left in him and can show enough to prove
himself worthy of a roster spot.
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