The Indianapolis Colts trimmed the roster down to 53 players Friday afternoon but it wasn’t easy and it certainly wasn’t pleasant.
“They’ve done everything that we’ve asked them to do from day one. I’m really proud of every man in that locker room,” Colts coach Chuck Pagano previewed after Thursday night’s preseason win over Cincinnati.
“What they did [Thursday night], whether they end up on our 53 or they end up on the practice squad here, as long as they put good tape out there and enhanced their resume, then they’ve got a good shot at making [the roster] of one of the other 31 clubs [in the National Football League].”
Perhaps the most recognizable released was veteran long snapper Justin Snow, who had been with the Colts since the start of the 2000 season.
Snow was originally signed by Indianapolis as an undrafted free agent on April 28, 2000. He had appeared in every game in his career, competing in 192 consecutive regular season contests, the second-longest streak in club history behind former quarterback Peyton Manning’s 208.
It was a simple matter of economics for the Colts. When Indianapolis signed free agent long snapper Matt Overton this past spring, the handwriting was already on the wall for Snow.
The former Baylor tight end is older (35) and was in line to earn $950,000 during the 2012 season. Overton, meanwhile, is only 27 and would only cost Indianapolis $300,000. Experience is lacking though. He has never snapped a football during a regular-season National Football League game.
Also released Friday was former Warren Central running back Darren Evans, who fumbled twice during the preseason. His late fumble in Thursday night’s 20-16 win over the Bengals very nearly cost Indianapolis the victory.
“We had a chance to ice it there [after recovering the fumble] and then found a way to give it right back. You can’t do that If you’re going to win in the National Football League,” Pagano said. “When they give you the ball like that and you’ve got a chance to put a team away, you’ve got to do it.”
Evans was able to find the end zone during the preseason, rushing for three touchdowns, but his inability to hold on to the football in a couple crucial situations wound up costing him a roster spot.
The remainder of those released included wide receiver Jeremy Ross, tight end Andre Smith, offensive tackle/guard Mike Tepper, center Zane Taylor, rookie offensive tackle Steven Baker, defensive tackle Jason Shirley, inside linebacker Greg Lloyd, tight end Kyle Miller, rookie offensive guard Hayworth Hicks, outside linebacker Jerry Brown, rookie safety Latarrius Thomas, rookie defensive tackle Chigbo Anunoby, and rookie wide receiver Kashif Moore.
In other roster moves that enabled the Colts to get down to the league-mandated roster size, running back Deji Karim, rookie defensive end James Aiono, rookie outside linebacker Tim Fugger, former Purdue cornerback Brandon King and safety Mike Newton were all waived-injured.
Indianapolis placed rookie wide receiver Jabin Sambrano and cornerback Korey Lindsey on injured reserve. In one last move, former Denver Broncos and Detroit Lions offensive tackle George Foster was released from injured reserve.
Fugger was the only member of the Colts’ 2012 draft class to not make the roster. The first-year linebacker from Vanderbilt, a seventh-round draft pick, had missed valuable practice time at the start of training camp due to a sports hernia and had been placed on the physically unable to perform list. He had activated off the PUP list a couple weeks ago but had yet to fully participate in a practice.
The Colts decided to keep three quarterbacks on the regular-season roster, which meant that Chandler Harnish — who played at Norwell High School — gets to stay. Harnish will be behind rookie starter Andrew Luck and veteran Drew Stanton on the depth chart.
Indianapolis did not practice Friday and is off again today. The Colts will return for a workout Sunday before beginning preparations early next week for the team’s Sept. 9 regular-season opener at Chicago.