Who Will Stay And Who Will Go? Defense

We know we'll see Dwight Freeney on the 53-man roster. But who will win and lose some of the hotly-contested battles for defensive roster spots? Brad Keller's picked his 53-man team already -- find out who will be in, who will be out and why inside!

Defensive End:

Number of spots: 5


Josh Thomas's experience will land him on the active roster
Al Messershmidt/Getty

Already on the roster: Dwight Freeney, Robert Mathis.

On the bubble: Josh Thomas, Jeff Charleston, Marcus Howard, Curtis Johnson, Ben Ishola.

The final spots go to:

Thomas, Charleston, and Howard.  If Freeney and Mathis were healthier, then one of the spots would probably go to Johnson over Thomas, but, as with the running back situation, the Colts would foolish to head into the season with two rookies backing up veterans coming back from injury.

Howard has been the most explosive and consistent of the three remaining and, since the Colts thought enough of him to draft him, he gets the nod here.  Johnson is an excellent candidate for the practice squad and Indianapolis is surely hoping that he clears waivers.

Defensive Tackle:

Number of spots: 5

Already on the roster: Ed Johnson, Raheem Brock, Darrell Reid, Keyunta Dawson.

On the bubble: Eric Foster, Joe Bradley, Colin Ferrell, Dan Davis.

The final spot goes to:

Foster.  Foster is this year's Ed Johnson, an undrafted rookie run stuffer with some pass rushing skills who stepped into the lineup and produced.  Bradley didn't see the field much and didn't do too much with the time he was given and Davis just didn't have enough time.

Ferrell just happens to be on the short end of the stick, as he played well enough, just not as well as Foster and not well enough to make the roster given the number of available spot.  Ferrell is another strong practice squad contender, assuming some team that is thin at defensive tackle does not claim him.

Linebacker:

Number of spots: 6

Guys already on the roster: Clint Session, Freddy Keiaho, Tyjuan Hagler, Gary Brackett.

Guys on the bubble: Jordan Senn, Victor Worsley, Ramon Guzman, Philip Wheeler, Kyle Shotwell.


Jordan Senn has earned a roster spot by tackling everything in sight
Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

The final spots go to:

Wheeler and Senn.  Although this makes for an exceptionally young linebacking corps, the Colts really have no choice, as any combination of bubble players that they could choose would be comprised of guys with two years of NFL experience or less.

Wheeler turned in a very good performance Thursday night and showed up on the stat sheet, registering six tackles and showing off his speed and awareness.  Senn has gotten better every week and will also be a major contributor on special teams.

Part of the reason for these roster moves is that it is very likely that Guzman, Shotwell, and Worsley will be available after they are released.  If someone goes down with an injury, all three of these men should just be a phone call away.  Guzman and Shotwell are candidates for the practice squad.

Cornerbacks:

Number of spots: 5

Guys already on the roster: Marlin Jackson, Kelvin Hayden, Tim Jennings.

Guys on the bubble: Brandon Foster, Dante Hughes, Keiwan Ratliff.

The final spots go to:

Hughes and Ratliff.  Jackson, Hayden, and Jennings are all quality players that fit the system well.  Hughes and Ratliff, as evidenced by their performances during the preseason, are the most capable back-ups at these positions and add value in the dime defense.

Once T.J. Rushing was placed on injured reserve, that basically settled the roster at the cornerback.  Foster has a future on special teams and might be an intriguing practice squad player, but he is simply not ready to be on an NFL roster at this point.

Safeties:

Number of spots: 4

Already on the roster: Antoine Betha, Bob Sanders, Matt Giordano.

On the bubble: Melvin Bullitt, Brannon Condren, Jamie Silva.

The final spot goes to:

Condren.  Bullitt has been inactive for all but one game this preseason and had only one tackle.  With two quality players as Condren and Silva as his competition, he gets knocked out of the running fairly quickly.  Condren and Silva had similar preseasons, but Condren was equal or better in tackles (26-21), passes defended (2-2), and interceptions (2-0).  Although Condren was simply in the right place at the right time on those two interceptions, he still caught them, returned them, and they ended up on the stat sheet.

He also has a year of experience in the system, plus this offseason, and the performance of the two men on special teams was a wash.  Should Silva clear waivers, he will quickly be added to the practice squad.  At this point, his competition is just too stiff to make the regular roster.

Special Teams:

Punter: Hunter Smith

Kicker: Adam Vinatieri


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