Analysis: Colts are too thin on D-line

Arthur Jones placed on injured reserve and cutting Josh Chapman and Montori Hughes leaves just five guys up front on defense.

Roster cuts unfortunately included Saturday confirmation the Indianapolis Colts have placed defensive tackle Arthur Jones on season-ending injured reserve due to an ankle injury.

Jones reportedly underwent surgery Friday and while many held out hope he could possibly return later in 2015, the Colts had to designate him to return at the time of being placed on IR, and they didn't do that.

That the team released nose tackle Josh Chapman and defensive tackle Montori Hughes means the roster has just five guys on the defensive line: defensive end Kendall Langford, defensive tackle Zach Kerr, rookie defensive end Henry Anderson, rookie nose tackle David Parry and first-year defensive end Earl Okine. What jumps out is the last three guys haven't played an NFL regular-season snap. And Kerr, an undrafted rookie a year ago, played in 12 games as a reserve.

The decision to cut Chapman, a 15-game starter in 2014, and Hughes, who played in 12 games with one start last year, was a statement that the Colts see the need for new blood to bolster that run defense. Some might question the moves, but the Colts evidently thought they were better off with the young guys and Langford, who was signed in March free agency to a four-year, $22-million contract, including $6 million guaranteed.

It should be said that the Colts are basically adjusting on the fly to the same situation they had last year with Jones. The defensive tackle's first go-around was a wash because of a high ankle sprain. Jones admitted he was never the same after suffering the injury. Signed to a five-year, $33-million deal with $10 million guaranteed, he started just three regular-season games, then three in the playoffs.

It's fair to suggest the Colts can't stand pat with what they have. Granted, the regular-season schedule isn't too demanding early on, so they should win more than they lose against lesser competition with quarterback Andrew Luck and that offense. But, inevitably, general manager Ryan Grigson is going to need to address the D-line.

Anderson, a third-round choice, and Parry, a fifth-round pick, will need time to adjust to the NFL game. Kerr will also quickly learn that playing more snaps is different than subbing in for a series here and there. Okine is even more of an unknown -- he spent last season playing in the Fall Experimental Football League and Arena Football League.

Ideally, a 3-4 defense should have three starters and the same number of backups up front. So expect the Colts to add at least one more player soon.

Don't be surprised if Grigson pulls the trigger on another trade -- yeah, that makes you nervous -- because the defensive line has to be better than a year ago. There's a reason the Colts didn't re-sign veteran Cory Redding and released defensive tackle Ricky Jean Francois in the offseason. Grigson was saying this team couldn't stay the same, not after New England ran over this defense again in January's AFC Championship Game.

So we'll all sit and wait, somewhat anxiously, to see what Grigson's next move will be. The linebackers might be his best set in four years, especially when Robert Mathis is back on the field in a game or two. Safety Dwight Lowery has fit in well with Mike Adams. Rookie safety Clayton Geathers showed some playmaking ability in preseason and should only get better with more seasoning.

The cornerback situation is a bit unsettled with Greg Toler hampered by a neck injury, but Pro Bowl cover guy Vontae Davis and nickel back Darius Butler are decent, with rookie D'Joun SmithJalil Brown and Sheldon Price vying for minutes in nickel and dime packages.

This brings us back to defensive line. The Colts have time to work on this and must do so. Stay tuned.

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

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