Though much of the NFL's offseason press is devoted to it's annual draft and free agency period, many teams find ways to help themselves by allocating players to NFL Europe (NFLE). Given the NFL's short preseason schedule, the NFLE is often the best opportunity many players get to impress league officials on the field.
The Colts allocated eight players -- including one name familiar to diehard Colts fans -- QB Tom Arth. As the team prepares to reload for 2005, ColtPower takes a look at the Colts presence in NFL Europe -- and which players are most likely to make the team.
Jermaine Mays, Cornerback, Berlin Thunder: Easily the Colts best player in Europe, Mays is quickly becoming the talk of the league. A collegiate wide receiver at Minnesota with late game highlights that include a 100-yard interception return, Mays is earning himself serious consideration for a spot on the Colts, or someone's, roster this season. Mays also enjoys playing special teams which will help him.
Willie Ford, Cornerback, Berlin Thunder: Also a starting cornerback, Ford is listed above Mays on the depth chart but has not had the same presence on the field. After spending last season with the Chiefs, the Colts claimed Ford and immediately sent him to Europe for the spring. Ford was more widely regarded than Mays before the season began, but he is quickly being outpaced by Mays and may have a difficult time making it to training camp given the Colts' new slew of rookie cornerbacks.
Trevor Hutton, Offensive Line, Amsterdam Admirals: Though he is listed as a center on the Colts official depth chart, Hutton is starting at guard for the Admirals. Already a steady player, the versatility he is demonstrating will only help his chances of making the roster.
Daryl Dixon, Safety, Berlin Thunder: The Thunder had high hopes for the former Florida Gator who always played tough against the run in college. They expected him to be one of their leaders on defense, but Dixon went down with a knee injury after just 2 weeks of action in mid-April. He's missed the last three games and has been put on the team's IR list. That's not good news for a player who will return to the states to find a bunch of new faces competing for spots in the Colts secondary.
Javor Mills, Defensive End, Cologne Centurions: A backup defensive end, Mills continues to have trouble finding playing time, even in Europe. With the glut of ends on the Colts roster, Mills will at best be a practice squad player.
Andre Summersell, Linebacker, Berlin Thunder: A backup in Berlin, Summersell is probably an NFL afterthought.
Josh Mallard, Defensive End, Amsterdam Admirals: Mallard has some potential, but the Colts have depth at end and he will be hard-pressed to make it through the team's first few cuts.
Tom Arth, Quarterback, Hamburg Sea Devils: Arth is the surprise disappointment of all the Colts players. Stranded at third on the Hamburg depth chart, he will receive virtually no playing time this season, drastically impacting his chance of making it through the Colts' training camp.
Most Likely To Make The Roster
It's always difficult to tell at this point in time, but Mays is making plays and that might make him too hard for Tony Dungy & Co. to pass up. It is no secret that the team has run out of patience with Joe Jefferson and Donald Strickland, and although Nick Harper recently signed a two-year contract, his continued presence on the roster is not guaranteed. Mays will have to earn a spot considering that the team has invested six picks on defensive backs in the past two seasons, including four at cornerback. But if he continues to make plays, the Colts will have to make a difficult decision.Aside from Mays, Trevor Hutton appears to be a good bet for the Colts' final roster at this point in time. Having cut a first-year starting guard each of the last two seasons, the Colts are obviously looking for better players along the offensive line. With two new interior linemen from this year's draft class likely to join the team, Hutton may face an uphill battle. But his ability to play three spots on the offensive line might make him too valuable to let go, especially considering his low salary.