Colts Add Another 'Backer To The Mix

The Colts made a few roster moves already this week, bringing back a familiar face and adding a new one. Who is he and how can he help? What are his chances of making the roster? Brad Keller has the analysis.

On Tuesday, the Colts made a total of four roster moves.  They waived recently signed linebacker Dedrick Harrington and placed second year cornerback Michael Coe on injured reserve (knee injury).

They also re-signed running back Clifton Dawson — who they had just released last week — and added rookie linebacker Marcus Richardson.

Richardson played his college ball at Troy and appeared in 43 games throughout his five year career with the Trojans, tallying 116 total tackles, 14 tackles for loss, three sacks, one interception, six passes defended, and two forced fumbles.

He was originally signed by the Houston Texans as an undrafted free agent after the 2008 draft, but they placed him on waivers on Monday as well and the Colts were the first team to claim him.


Marcus Richardson pursues a quarterback in 2007
AP Photo/Dave Martin

With his size — almost 6 feet, 235 pounds — he projects as more of a middle linebacker in the Colts scheme, but his experience, general skill set, and speed (timed at 4.59 in the 40-yard dash) seems to make him a better fit on the outside.

And, the truth of the matter is that the fact that no one knew quite where to project him at the NFL level is part of the reason why he went undrafted. 

With his size and athleticism, it stands to reason that someone would have taken a shot at him throughout the course seven rounds in April.  But, since he very nearly had the "athlete" moniker applied to him instead of simply being a linebacker, it was a barrier to entry for him.

Additionally, he did not play against the highest level of competition at Troy, even though it is a Division I BCS school and usually faces a respectable nonconference schedule.

Then there's the small matter of the fact that he appeared in 43 games, but only registered 116 tackles.  That was largely because he could not stay in the starting lineup — he also didn't really have any injury concerns, which is a positive, but the fact that he couldn't lock down the starting job at Troy was also a huge minus.

When he had the opportunity to play against the powerhouse schools in the NCAA, though, he did very well.  In a game against Florida last season, he had seven tackles, two tackles for loss, and a sack against the Gators that Saturday, and no doubt caught the attention of a number of scouts.

His workout numbers helped his cause as well, but, ultimately, there were too many negatives and red flags for teams to look past.

However, the draft and being cut by Houston are both distant memories for Richardson at this point, since he joins a Colts team that has a linebacking corps that has been torn apart by injuries.

With the injuries, and the struggles of the players remaining — the ones that have jobs, such as Gary Brackett and Freddy Keiaho, have looked fine — Richardson has landed in the perfect spot for a young, athletically gifted player looking for a fresh start.

The Colts have done well recently with undrafted free agents like Richardson at the linebacker position and will need to pull another rabbit out of their hat this season in order to fill out the roster.  The coaches are very skilled, patient teachers, that work well with young players and tend to get them to assimilate the system rather quickly. 

Even though he is an undrafted rookie without a true position from a small school that has already been waived, no coach can teach a player to be Richardson's size, yet still run a 4.59 40.

Athletic ability and the numbers are on his side, but it is still up to him to make an impression on the coaching staff to at least secure himself a spot on the practice squad.

He will turn 24 at the end of September, so he has maturity on his side, but 24 is also an advanced age for a rookie.  For Richardson, the time is now, so he needs to make the most of it.


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