The Final 53: Who Will They Be?

From the final whistle of the Super Bowl, through the excitement of the NFL Draft and the heat of training camp in Anderson, ColtPower.com's Eric Hartz has kept a close eye on the 2010 Indianapolis Colts. Inside, Hartz makes his best guess at the team's opening-day roster.

Quarterbacks (2): Peyton Manning, Curtis Painter.

HARTZ'S HUNCH: Bill Polian made it clear in his post-game comments Thursday night that he liked what he saw from Curtis Painter, all but assuring that the Purdue product will go into the season as the No. 2 quarterback. I saw a lot of improvement from Brandstater over the course of the summer, and he's a player with practice squad eligibility. If he clears waivers, that's exactly where I think he'll end up.

Running backs (4): Joseph Addai, Donald Brown, Mike Hart, Devin Moore.

HARTZ'S HUNCH: I feel pretty confident that all four of these players will make the team. Hart has carved out the No. 3 spot, and Moore has earned a spot with his returning skills.

Wide Receivers (5): Reggie Wayne, Anthony Gonzalez, Pierre Garçon, Austin Collie, Brandon James.

HARTZ'S HUNCH: The first four players are no-brainers, but it got difficult from that point on. The Colts will roll the dice cutting Blair White loose — his performance in Thursday's preseason finale no doubt caught some attention around the league — but this position becomes a numbers game. The team will no doubt be hoping to stash him on the practice James isn't ready at this point and will be inactive most Sundays, but something tells me the Colts aren't ready to let him go yet. Taj Smith is another tough cut here. Sam Giguere has stayed around for two seasons, but I think he comes in third behind Smith and White on the cut list.

Tight ends (4): Dallas Clark, Jacob Tamme, Brody Eldridge, Gijon Robinson.

HARTZ'S HUNCH: I've been critical of Robinson in the past, and he's the only player of these four on the bubble. But for a team that relies on two tight ends a great deal, and given Tamme's injury history, I think he sneaks onto the roster as a security measure.

Offensive line (10): Jeff Saturday, Charlie Johnson, Ryan Diem, Tony Ugoh, Mike Pollak, Jamey Richard, Kyle DeVan, Jaimie Thomas, Jeff Linkenbach, Jacques McClendon.

By far the toughest group to predict, which isn't surprising given the uncertainty at the position. The emergence of Linkenbach has made offseason signing Adam Terry expendable and gives the team options at tackle. Inside, it's hard to handicap the race. Richard is the presumptive backup center with Jeff Saturday still questionable to begin the season. The team likes DeVan and McClendon, and probably isn't ready to give up on Pollak yet, although this may be a last-chance situation for him. I have a feeling I like Thomas more than most, but I still think he has a chance to emerge from this guard sweepstakes.

Defensive line (9): Dwight Freeney, Robert Mathis, Antonio Johnson, Daniel Muir, Eric Foster, Jerry Hughes, John Chick, Fili Moala, Keyunta Dawson.

The first four players listed are the starters and a very solid group. First-round pick Hughes started to show his mettle as the preseason went on, and Polian has indicated Chick will also make the team. Moala and Foster will be part of the rotation at defensive tackle, although Moala's Thursday-night arrest for OWI might drive him down the depth chart. Dawson will likely take over the inside-outside role formerly filled by Raheem Brock. Tough decisions here for Mitch King and Ervin Baldwin.

Linebackers (7): Gary Brackett, Clint Session, Philip Wheeler, Pat Angerer, Ramon Humber, Cody Glenn, Kavell Conner.

HARTZ'S HUNCH: Again, I feel pretty confident in this group. Angerer should be the top backup, but Humber, Glenn and Conner have all shown themselves to be capable at the position and will be anchors on special teams.

Defensive backs (8): Kelvin Hayden, Jerraud Powers, Jacob Lacey, Deshea Townsend, Brandon King, Antoine Bethea, Bob Sanders, Melvin Bullitt.

HARTZ'S HUNCH: Hayden, Powers, Lacey, Bethea, Sanders and Bullitt are all assured of places on the team, and the veteran Townsend wasted no time earning a spot. Finding a fifth corner was tough, and I had Ray Fisher in this spot until he was cut Friday. Still look for the Colts to try to find a fourth safety on the waiver wire — perhaps former backup Matt Giordano — which could lead to an extra cut on the defensive or offensive line.

Specialists (3): Justin Snow, Adam Vinatieri, Pat McAfee.

HARTZ'S HUNCH: No surprises here. Vinatieri has looked healthy in the preseason, Snow is rock-solid, and McAfee is coming into his own as a punter. The second-year man also is a holder, kicks off and can place-kick in a pinch. If Vinatieri has injury trouble, look for the Colts to call for another full-time kicker, but this group is good to go to start the season.


Agree with Hartz's picks? Think he's lost his football-obsessed mind? Discuss his decisions or let us know what he missed in the ColtPower.com forums, right here!


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