The Indianapolis Colts have already designated seven of their players for the NFL Europe Europe exemption, which will allow them to carry these players in addition to the 80 they can have on their offseason roster. The players with NFL Europe exemptions also gain the benefit of not counting against the first training camp cut downs to 65, increasing their chances of lasting to the final cuts. Each NFL team can designate up to 10 players to play in NFL Europe.
So far, the
Colts are planning to send:
CB Eric Hill -- The Colts converted Hill from WR to CB during offseason workouts in the spring. He has spent two years with the club, signing as an undrafted free agent back in 2004 and then landing on the practice squad in September. He pulled a groin muscle in mid-August, and was released a couple of weeks later on August 30th. The Bears signed him to their practice squad and he remained with them until his release at the end of November. A week later, the Colts snatched him back and put him on their practice squad. The NFL Europe experience will give Hill much-needed game experience at the cornerback position since he played WR while at Colorado State.
WR Roscoe Crosby -- Crosby was on the practice squad at the end of the season with the Colts. He signed with the team following the NFL Supplemental Draft, but was released in the first round of camp cuts. He had tryouts with the Packers and Panthers, but eventually re-signed with the Colts on November 3rd for a practice squad assignment.
C Mike Johnson -- Johnson is another practice squad member who will head to Europe this year. He was an undrafted free agent who initially signed with the Chiefs. He was released in the first round of camp cuts, and the Colts grabbed him on December 23rd. Johson's a Kansas State alumnus and joins Ryan Lilja as being another KC castoff that may have found a home in Indy.
Hawkins -- Colts fans will remember lanky Joey Hawkins from the 2005
training camp. The 6'9, 245-lb Hawkins was stuck behind a talented group of four
tight ends in camp and didn't see much playing time. He'll have an opportunity
to show what he's got in NFL Europe before joining the Colts for training camp
DE Justin Brown -- After posting 72 tackles and 12 sacks in his senior year at East Central University in Oklahoma, Brown got a shot with the Colts in 2005. He survived the cuts up until September 3rd, and will now get another chance to show them if he's ready to step in.
LB Nick Hannah -- Some thought that Hannah would make the final roster after Rocky Calmus ended his season with a hamstring injury. But Hannah was not only released, he ended up not even getting invited to join the practice squad. The Eastern Oregon alum showed a good work ethic in camp last year and should be able to make some strides by playing in NFLE this season.
FS Brandon Mueller -- The former Princeton Tiger has value primarily as a special teams player. Mueller's a smart player who will need some time in NFLE just to get in the flow again. He wasn't in anyone's training camp last year, so the closest thing he's had to regular action was last year's Colts mini-camp where he was a non-roster invitee.
Out of last
year's crop of NFLE players from the Colts, none of them made the 53-man roster
in 2005. QB Tom Arth was on the practice squad all year, and G Trevor Hutton was
on the practice squad for about a week at the start of the season. Other 2005
NFLE players included DL Josh Mallard, DE Javor Mills, K Stephen Scaldaferri, LB
Andre Sommersell, CB Jermaine Mays, and safety Daryl Dixon.
A side note of interest to Colts fans is that former Colts kicker David Kimball out of Penn State will also be heading to Europe this spring. The former 7th-round pick out of Penn State has signed with the Raiders and will be one of their NFLE designated players.
The NFL Europe season kicks off in mid-March and runs through the end of May.