INDIANAPOLIS — Thirteen days.
That's exactly how much time remains from today before the Indianapolis Colts must cut down their roster from 90 to 75 players.
So with the clock ticking, one might better understand why Ryan Grigson is adamant that Saturday's second preseason game against the Baltimore Ravens at Lucas Oil Stadium is a prime opportunity for those players near the bottom of the depth chart to either go out and earn their spot — or face the possibility of going home.
"I think Coach (Pagano) has been very clear on it that if guys don't emerge and show that they can take — not just kind of be there — but take those spots and show ownership at one of those positions, then we're going to look elsewhere," the Colts' general manager told Bob Lamey this week. "Because, you know, we have to have guys that can play winning football for us and that are doing it on a consistent basis."
A good chunk of the players currently on the Colts' 90-man roster have been with the team for most of the offseason workout program, OTAs, minicamp and training camp, and after playing in their first preseason game last Saturday against the Buffalo Bills, Grigson said it's clear that there's plenty of work left to be done.
"Dropping footballs, not knowing where to be, being sloppy in your blocking technique or not staying off the ground — all those things that you can control, by this point, you should be able to," Grigson said. "So we're looking at all that; we're constantly evaluating."
Grigson said he meets daily with head coach Chuck Pagano to discuss various players' development, among other topics, and said that now with a game under their belts, it's getting clearer which guys are swimming — and which guys are sinking.
"Guys have to show up when this game begins," Grigson said of Saturday's matchup against the Ravens. "And we'll find out from the tape, because the tape doesn't lie."
Like Pagano and others this week, Grigson hinted at some positives and negatives that he took from the preseason opener against the Bills. Indianapolis got off to a slow start — particularly on offense — and fell into a 9-0 hole in the second quarter before finally getting things going, tying the game at 9 heading into halftime.
From there, the Colts and Bills had a back-and-forth battle, with Indianapolis taking a 19-12 lead late in the fourth quarter. Buffalo scratched and clawed on its final possession to score a touchdown with no time left in regulation to bring the score to 19-18, but the Indianapolis defense stood tall on the ensuing two-point conversion attempt, forcing an incomplete pass and earning the win.
Grigson said he thinks "a lot can happen from the first game to the second game." The mistakes made to open the preseason should certainly be mostly cleaned up after another tough week of practice and film study.
"That was our first action (with) live bullets, so I don't think we should hit the panic button by any stretch, but guys have to make plays when they're there to be made, got to make throws when they're there to be made — and when there's a tackle to be made or a sack to be made," he said. "You have to finish. Again … guys have to show that they can finish a play and produce."
The Colts will get one more preseason game behind them — an Aug. 27 home date against the Philadelphia Eagles — before facing a 4 p.m. ET deadline on Sept. 1 to cut down their roster from 90 to 75 players.
Indianapolis' final preseason game will be played that night on the road against the Cincinnati Bengals. From there, the team faces a 4 p.m. ET deadline on Sept. 5 to cut down its roster from 75 to its final 53 players on the Active/Inactive List.