INDIANAPOLIS — On Saturday, the Indianapolis Colts will cut their roster almost in half.
After taking advantage of a full 90-man roster for the entirety of the offseason through training camp and the preseason, the Colts face a 4 p.m. ET Saturday deadline to get to their 53-man regular season roster.
At noon on Sunday, teams face a deadline to claim players placed on waivers the previous day; and one hour later, teams’ 10-player practice squads will mostly be in place.
There will undoubtedly be some tough decisions for Colts general manager Chris Ballard, head coach Frank Reich and their staffs as they try to determine not only which players will make the cut — and those who won’t — but also those let go from other teams who would be ideal fits and could come in and contribute right away.
But one factor making those decisions even harder for the Colts is their injury situation. While the team has been pretty fortunate when it comes to avoiding key players suffering major injuries before the season even gets started — rookie wide receiver Deon Cain’s torn ACL being the primary example of this — there are several primary contributors who have been banged up with nagging pulls, nicks and bruises whose Week 1 statuses are still very much in the air.
Here’s a look at the latest on those injured Colts players:
» Tackle Anthony Castonzo: Castonzo re-aggravated a hamstring injury about a week into training camp and hasn’t returned since. But Reich is hopeful that Castonzo, with at least a couple practices behind him and no more setbacks, will play in the Sept. 9 season opener against the Cincinnati Bengals at Lucas Oil Stadium. Castonzo said just about as much earlier this week.
» Tackle/guard Denzelle Good: Good, meanwhile, had just returned from a hamstring injury of his own to play in last Saturday’s preseason Week 3 matchup against the San Francisco 49ers when he suffered a knee injury and didn’t return. Reich said Good is “week-to-week,” so his pursuit of the starting right tackle job is on hold once again.
» Safety T.J. Green: It was a hamstring injury that knocked Green out of that 49ers game, and he is also classified as “week-to-week.” This, along with a shoulder injury to fellow safety Ronald Martin, is one of those situations where an injury at this point can really muddy the waters for this weekend’s roster cuts. Usually a team only keeps four (or five, at most) safeties, and Green and Martin’s absences would mean the team would hypothetically go into its season opener with just three healthy safeties in Clayton Geathers, Malik Hooker and Matthias Farley.
» Defensive tackle/end Tyquan Lewis: Lewis has been out since Aug. 6 with a foot injury, and although there were times since then that Reich had believed the second-round pick was “getting a lot closer,” he just hasn’t been able to clear some major hurdles to get back onto the field. Reich said this week that Lewis hasn’t undergone surgery and he doesn’t believe, at this time, that he’s a candidate to start the season on injured reserve, but he “just hasn’t been coming along as fast as we would’ve liked.” Still, Reich is “hopeful we will have him” at some point early in the season.
» Running back Marlon Mack: Mack suffered a hamstring injury in the second quarter of the Colts’ preseason opener against the Seattle Seahawks on Aug. 9 and hasn’t returned since. Reich the last couple weeks hasn’t committed to the thought of having the second-year running back available Week 1 — “I don’t think it’s a slam dunk that he’s ready,” Reich said on Aug. 23 — but this week, Reich said both Castonzo and Mack, in recent days, “have made good progress.” So this one might come down to the wire.
» Linebacker Anthony Walker: Reich said July 31 “it is going to be a few weeks” when it came to Walker’s injured groin. At the time of his injury, he was working in as the first-team MIKE linebacker. Here we are, a month later, and Walker still isn’t on the field. Reich said on Aug. 21 that, “Anthony is starting to feel better. I wouldn’t say we are close, but again, almost like Castonzo I feel good about the progress.” So, like a lot of these guys, stay tuned in the coming days for more updates regarding their Week 1 status.
» Cornerback Quincy Wilson: Wilson suffered a hand injury in practice last week and did not play in Saturday’s preseason contest against the 49ers. He was held out of practice again this week, and Reich said Tuesday that, “I’m hopeful that he will practice next week,” leading up to the Bengals season opener. Like at safety, the Colts don’t have a ton of flexibility when it comes to their cornerback position, so it’ll be interesting to see how this shapes out should Wilson miss the regular season opener.