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Analysis: Expect more Colts roster shuffling

While cutting wide receiver Duron Carter might be biggest surprise, 53-man roster is going to change more, likely sooner than later.

In a social-media world of immediate reaction, Indianapolis Colts fans didn’t hesitate to weigh in on Saturday’s roster trim to the NFL-mandated 53 players.

Some on Twitter were surprised nose tackle Josh Chapman was cut. I wasn’t. He didn’t do much in the first three preseason games, then was on the field at the end of Thursday’s preseason finale. That, my friends, is the kiss of death. If you’re in the team’s plans, the team doesn’t make you play against other reserves soon to be unemployed.

Several fans were aghast that the Colts kept oft-injured running back Vick Ballard as well as wide receiver Griff Whalen, yet cut wide receiver Duron Carter. There’s no denying Carter has talent, but that didn’t translate to the field until the final preseason game against reserves.

I’ll admit I was surprised by these decisions. Keeping Ballard means the Colts have five running backs. Frank Gore, Dan Herron and rookie Josh Robinson weren’t going anywhere. I liked the fact that rookie Tyler Varga earned a spot. But Ballard was unable to stay healthy during preseason and, as much as he is one of the most well-liked guys on the squad, it’s a tremendous leap of faith that his body will eventually cooperate. I hope it does. If not, this was a mistake.

Bottom line, five running backs are at least one too many. I’m guessing roster moves in the near future will impact this position. Call it a hunch.

It’s difficult to make an argument for Whalen versus Carter considering the rookie’s ability, but I’ll say this on Whalen’s behalf. He knows the system, he doesn’t need to be told where to line up (which happened too often with Carter) and the Colts can utilize him on special teams.

Should Whalen be called upon to fill in, quarterback Andrew Luck knows the guy. They were college roommates. That’s not why Whalen kept his spot. But Luck’s history with Whalen accounts for something. If rookie wide receiver Phillip Dorsett goes down, you can stick Whalen in the slot and he knows what to do.

Keep in mind, also, we’re talking about a No. 5 wide receiver. It’s not like we expect this player to get much action with the base offense. That being the case, he has to have value elsewhere. An argument could be made that Whalen is more valuable than Carter on special teams.

Yes, fans will argue that’s a crock. Everyone is entitled to their opinions. I just don’t mind the wide receiver surprise as much as others.

It should be more disconcerting that the Colts stuck with outside linebacker Bjoern Werner. This team doesn’t want to admit it missed on the 2013 first-round draft choice. So be it. I don’t see the value in keeping him, just hoping he does something so the organization can save face.

Expect the Colts to be active on the waiver wire in the next day or so. I can’t see how this team is set on the offensive line with just four reserves, and one of them, offensive guard Hugh Thornton, is hurt.

I’m also curious about whether the Colts will bring in another defensive tackle to help fill the void left by Arthur Jones being placed on season-ending injured reserve. The company line is that rookie nose tackle David Parry, defensive end Henry Anderson and defensive tackle Zach Kerr can alternate there, but my gut tells me they will want to get some help. Those three guys have one season of NFL experience.

One other reminder should be shared at this juncture. While everyone, myself included, are quick to react to the decisions made today, this is merely the beginning. NFL rosters change almost daily throughout the season. This is a jumping off point.

We were reminded of this Friday, when the Colts acquired linebacker Sio Moore from the Oakland Raiders for a sixth-round draft choice. Maybe Moore fills a need, if Nate Irving needs more time to get healthy or they want insurance at outside linebacker. Moore doesn’t cost much, he was in the doghouse in Oakland because he’s coming off hip surgery, yet he started 22 games in two years and made 140 tackles. I liked the deal.

Expect more roster shuffling, folks. It’s a long season.

Phillip B. Wilson also can be found on Facebook and Google+.


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