Chopping Block: Cutdown to 75

The Colts need to cut ties with five players before 4 p.m. on Tuesday. Who will the axe fall on and who will survive to play against Cincinnati and keep their hopes of making the 53-man roster? Brad Keller breaks it down inside!

Without roster exemptions for NFL Europa and with the owners' decision to keep rosters set at 80 players throughout training camp, this is going to be a short list, since Indianapolis only needs to release five players to get to the necessary 75 before end of business on Aug. 26.

The big cuts, of course, will be coming on Saturday, Aug. 30.  By that point, the Colts need to get their roster down to 53 players, which is where a lot more heads will roll and there will likely be a few surprises.

In the meantime, here are a few things to keep in mind for Tuesday's cuts:

  1. As much as Colts fans will be calling for Quinn Gray's head to roll after Sunday's four-interception performance, all the quarterbacks currently on the roster are safe.

    Peyton Manning hopes to practice this week, but probably won't play, and Dungy said that Jim Sorgi would have played had Sunday been a regular season game, but the fact remains that there are only two men on the depth chart with healthy knees, so Gray and Jared Lorenzen are safe.

    Until Saturday, that is. If they fail to impress against the Bengals and Manning does practice, all bets are off.

  2. All the draft picks are safe until Saturday.  There are enough undrafted players and free agents that haven't shown enough, so the draft picks are safe — even if Tom Santi has not shown anything as yet due to injury.
  3. All the defensive backs are safe.  Since Dungy basically knows his depth chart at safety and cornerback at this point, he'll need to keep all these gentlemen around and see who shines on special teams on Thursday.
  4. Everyone released on Tuesday is a practice squad dark horse.  Although the Colts may pick up one or more of these guys and place him on the taxi squad, the fact that they'll be available for four extra days during the busiest signing and releasing cycle in the NFL means that someone else might snatch them up.

    And since they're considered to be, at this point, the five most expendable players on the roster, that goes to show that the front office and coaches don't think all that much of them.

    Practice squad spots are valuable, too, and the Colts aren't going to use them on just anyone.

Five to Cut:

Darren Marquez will likely be cut, but could be a practice-squad possibility
Photo: Tom Weber, Saluki Media Services

1. Darren MarquezHe is listed first because he's done the least with the most opportunity.  Marquez has seen fairly extensive action given how low he is on the depth chart and hasn't done much to impress coaches.

His meltdown against Atlanta is certainly the low point of the preseason for him, but there also have not been many high points, if any.  He's a very intriguing practice squad prospect, though, since he certainly hasn't begun to tap his vast potential and a year of learning on the scout team might be just what the doctor ordered.

The downside to that is that the other 31 teams in the league see Marquez's potential as well, so he may be the hardest of these five to sign once the regular roster is set.

2. Marcus Richardson: Danny Verdun-Wheeler was already jettisoned and Richardson's prospects don't look any rosier, especially since the Colts are starting to get healthy at linebacker.

In all fairness to Richardson, he wasn't given much of an opportunity to succeed, but, in all fairness to the Indianapolis staff, he didn't make the most of the opportunity he had.

Everyone ahead of him in the depth chart has been with the team longer and is more familiar with the defense, so Richardson finds himself on the outside looking in — the most releasable player at a position that is getting stronger and healthier by the day.

3. Dan Davis: The two other undrafted rookie defensive tackles on the squad — Colin Farrell and Eric Foster — have simply been more impressive thus far.  Davis has had some time with the team, has had his shots, and simply wasn't as good as the competition.

Even with the apparent retirement of Quinn Pitcock, Davis is the odd man out at another deep position.

Tyrice Thompson's short tenure with the Colts will likely come to an end on Tuesday
Harry How/Getty Images

4. Tyrice Thompson: He hasn't been with the team long enough.  Both his inexperience and the fact that the depth chart at tight end appears to be set — either Dallas Clark, Jacob Tamme, or Gijon Robinson would need to get injured for Thompson to have a chance, and Zac Herold played on Sunday, not Thompson, so Herold would have first crack at that job — will lead to Thompson being waived.

The good news for Thompson and the Colts is that Thompson was unemployed for two months before they picked him up, so he will most likely be available to them for practice squad duty, which would give him time to learn how to properly hone and take advantage of his athleticism.

5. Sam Giguere: Giguere is another player with tremendous physical gifts that simply needs more time to acclimate himself to the NFL.

Not only did he have to adjust to the speed of the game at the highest level, but he also needed to adjust to the rules differences between American football and Canadian football.  He put forth a lot of effort and, frankly, made more of an impact than expected, but still did not do enough.

He was also drafted in the first round of the CFL's draft and his NFL aspirations were probably holding him back from taking full advantage of that opportunity.  Since he'd be crazy not to head north if released, the odds of him signing onto any practice squad are slim, so this might be the last we'll see of Giguere.

This is just the first round of cuts — and minor ones at that.  The real battles are still being waged and there are a number of spots still available.

It will be interesting to see how things shake out when the magic number dwindles from 75 to 53.

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