Top Takeaways: Chris Ballard On Initial 53-Man Roster, Quarterback Depth

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INDIANAPOLIS — Indianapolis Colts general manager Chris Ballard, along with head coach Frank Reich, on Sunday talked with reporters about the decisions that went into the team’s initial 2019 53-man roster, as well as the decisions ahead to address the team’s quarterback depth. What all did we learn?

» The Colts are “working through it” in regards to finding a backup quarterback: The sudden retirement of starter Andrew Luck last week propelled backup Jacoby Brissett into the No. 1 job, but the Colts now find themselves working on finding a No. 2 quarterback to start the regular season.

Chad Kelly, who performed well during the preseason, is suspended the first two games, and while Phillip Walker is always an option, the team waived him during final cuts on Saturday and then re-signed him to its practice squad on Sunday.

That likely means the Colts will be looking for someone from the outside for at least the first couple weeks of the season.

“We’re working through it,” Ballard said of the situation. “We want to get the right guy for us and we know there are some possibilities out there. But we’re working through it and we’ll have him in the building here soon.”

Asked if the team was looking for more of a short-term option or long-term answer for its backup quarterback job, Ballard said “we’re working through both scenarios.”

“We want to make sure we make the right decision both in the short term and in the long term,” he said.

Asked if Kelly could be “more than a practice squad” option when he returns from suspension, Ballard was sure not to say much — though he did offer, “We like him, I’ll say that. We like Chad.”

» The depth at other positions led to the Colts keeping just eight offensive linemen: Ballard has been on record as saying he’d like to have as many as 10 offensive linemen at any given time on the Colts’ 53-man roster, but there was just too much depth at other positions this time around to make that possible.

Indy so far has kept, for example, six players at both wide receiver and cornerback, as well as five safeties, which could be considered more than usual. The team also has a ton of depth at defensive line, where it kept 10 players.

Ballard isn’t ruling out adding more offensive linemen in the future, but likes where everything stands for now.

“Yeah, we’ve got a couple guys that we really like in those back spots,” Ballard said, referencing the offensive line. “But with the depth at wideout, with the depth in the secondary, with the depth on the D-line — we ended up keeping 10 defensive linemen, keeping the four backs. And at some point – I mean you can only keep 53 guys. But that’s a position that we always have our eye on.”

» The Colts won’t be placing starting defensive end Jabaal Sheard on injured reserve to start the regular season: Sheard underwent a minor knee procedure after feeling discomfort in his knee early into training camp, and had the Colts decided to place him on IR after Saturday at 4 p.m. ET, the league’s deadline for teams to formulate their initial 53-man rosters, Sheard would’ve had to sit out at least the first eight weeks of the regular season.

That won’t be the case, however, as Ballard said “we won’t IR (Sheard)” on Sunday, a good indication that the team likely believes he’ll be ready sometime in the next few weeks.

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» Speed, special teams prowess lands Ryan Lewis in Indy: The Colts on Sunday claimed just one player off waivers: cornerback Ryan Lewis, who was waived by the Buffalo Bills on Saturday.

Lewis, 25, has played in seven games (three starts) in his time with the Bills (2018), New England Patriots (2017) and Arizona Cardinals (2017) and has compiled 13 tackles (11 solo), three passes defensed, two forced fumbles and two special teams stops. He was originally signed by the Cardinals as an undrafted free agent coming out of Pittsburgh in 2017.

To make room for Lewis, the Colts on Sunday waived cornerback Chris Milton, one of their top special teams contributors. Ballard said the team has had its eye on Lewis for quite some time, and hopes he can fill a similar role to Milton’s moving forward.

“He is big and fast,” Ballard said of Lewis, who stands at 6-foot and weighs 195 pounds and ran a 4.37-second 40-yard dash coming out of college. “He is really good on (special) teams and we think he has got some upside at corner. So we said, ‘Why not take a shot?’ We didn’t have a lot of spots to move, but that was one – we got a younger player who has got a little more time on his contract going forward that we thought we would take a shot and we thought he could help us.”

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