Heading into this afternoon's regular-season opener with the Oakland Raiders, here is a position-by-position look at the 2013 Indianapolis Colts:
Starter – Andrew Luck. Backup – Matt Hasselbeck.
The Colts have opted to go with just two quarterbacks on the regular-season roster this season. Luck had a strong preseason and Hasselbeck provides perhaps the best primary backup in several years. Former No. 3 quarterback Chandler Harnish was among Indianapolis’ final cuts and then signed to the practice squad.
Starter — Vick Ballard. Backups – Ahmad Bradshaw, Donald Brown, Stanley Havili (FB).
Heading into the Oakland game, Ballard figures to be the starter. Bradshaw, though, will see plenty of playing time as part of a three-back rotation along with Brown. Bradshaw, who did not play in the preseason, could end up as No. 1 on the depth chart as the season progresses. Havili is the lone true fullback on the Colts’ regular-season roster.
Starter — Dwayne Allen. Backups — Jack Doyle, Coby Fleener, Dominique Jones.
Allen appears to have recovered from a foot injury that he incurred during the second week of training camp. He did not play in the preseason. Allen, though, is expected to start the regular-season opener with the Raiders. Fleener had an inconsistent preseason but is expected to be a key contributor to the Colts’ offensive attack. Doyle, an Indy native, was added to the roster after being released by Tennessee and will help fill the role of end-line blocker and H-Back. Jones was released, re-signed to the practice squad and then elevated to the regular-season all in a matter of three days.
Starters – Reggie Wayne, Darrius Heyward-Bey. Backups – T.Y. Hilton, David Reed, Griff Whalen. Suspended – LaVon Brazill.
The Colts have pretty good quality at receiver with Wayne, Heyward-Bey and Hilton. Heyward-Bey and Hilton will share one outside receiver position, with Hilton also getting work in the slot. Whalen is the No. 4 receiver for now with Brazill being sidelined for the first four games of the season due to violations of the league’s substance abuse policies. Reed is recovering from a concussion suffered in the final preseason game but is expected to be the No. 5 receiver for now.
Starters — LT Anthony Castonzo, LG Donald Thomas, C Samson Satele, RG Mike McGlynn, RT Gosder Cherilis. Backups – C/G Khaled Holmes, G/T Jeff Linkenbach, T/G Joe Reitz, G Hugh Thornton.
Castonzo is recovering from a sprained knee but is expected to be in the starting lineup against Oakland in the season opener. McGlynn is also rehabbing a sore knee. He should start as well. Satele returns for his second season as a starter. Thomas and Cherilis were signed as veteran free agents during the offseason and will hopefully help to stabilize the Colts’ offensive line. Holmes and Thornton are promising rookies who could push for playing time. Linkenbach and Reitz are both versatile veterans who can play several positions.
Starters — DE Cory Redding, NT Aubrayo Franklin, DT Ricky Jean Francois. Backups – NT Josh Chapman, DT Montori Hughes, DT Ricardo Mathews, DE Fili Moala.
Two new starters in Franklin and Jean Francois with Redding the lone returnee from the 2012 season. Chapman is expected to see plenty of work as he rotates with Franklin at nose tackle. Versatility earmarks the rest of the defensive line as Hughes, Mathews and Moala can all play dual positions. Hughes has been impressive as a nose tackle and defensive tackle. Mathews and Moala have proven adept at playing tackle and end.
Starters — SLB Erik Walden, ILB Pat Angerer, ILB Jerrell Freeman, RLB Robert Mathis. Backups – ILB Kavell Conner, ILB Mario Harvey, OLB Cam Johnson, ILB Kelvin Sheppard. OLB Bjoern Werner.
New starter at strong side linebacker in Walden. Angerer appears to be healthy again after struggling with a foot injury all of last season and during the preseason this year. Freeman led the Colts in tackles last season as a first-year starter. Mathis moves over to be the rush linebacker, taking over for former starter Dwight Freeney. Indianapolis looks to have good depth with Conner, Harvey and Sheppard inside. Johnson was added to the roster on Monday in a trade with the San Francisco 49ers. He can play either the rush or the strong side outside linebacking role. Werner, the Colts' top draft pick last spring, continues to be a work in progress but has played relatively well in the early going.
DEFENSIVE BACKS: Starters – LCB Greg Toler, S LaRon Landry, S Antoine Bethea, RCB Vontae Davis. Backups – S Sergio Brown, CB Darius Butler, CB Josh Gordy, S Delano Howell, S Joe Lefeged, CB Cassius Vaughn.
The Colts have improved the secondary with the additions of Toler and Landry. They should team with Davis and Bethea to give Indianapolis a strong starting group. Landry and Bethea are both listed as safeties, with either one having the ability to play near the line or back in pass coverage. Butler, Vaughn and Gordy provide pretty good depth at cornerback. Lefeged, Brown and Howell strengthen the safety position.
Starters — P/KO/H Pat McAfee, PK Adam Vinatieri, LS Matt Overton, KR David Reed, PR T.Y. Hilton.
McAfee and Vintatieri combine to give Indianapolis a great one-two punch on special teams. McAfee is the Colts’ punter, kickoff specialist and placement holder. Vinatieri had a strong preseason and appears ready to start his 19th year in the league. Overton is in his second year as Indianapolis’ long snapper. Reed will most likely handle kickoff returns while Hilton is the primary punt returner. CB Cassius Vaughn can also return kicks for the Colts.