The Indianapolis Colts find themselves four days away from the start of the 2016 National Football League season.
With Indianapolis set to play host to the Detroit Lions Sunday (4:45 p.m.) at Lucas Oil Stadium, head coach Chuck Pagano is beginning to get a better idea of just who he'll have available to play.
Injuries have taken their toll on the Colts during training camp and the preseason. As it stands now, it appears as if Pagano may have defensive end Kendall Langford (knee) and cornerback Patrick Robinson (groin) in the team's defensive lineup.
Defensive tackle Henry Anderson, cornerback Vontae Davis and inside linebacker Sio Moore (hamstring) , however, have already been ruled out.
As for the offense, it looks like right tackle Joe Reitz (back) will be good to go but left guard Jack Mewhort (knee) is questionable. Rookie guard/tackle Joe Haeg (foot/ankle) is not expected to be ready.
Langford, when asked Wednesday about his chances of playing against the Lions, took on a more cautious stance than Pagano did. Still, it wouldn't be wise to discount him out. The defensive lineman has made 128 consecutive NFL starts.
“He’s an iron man. He’s really good against the run. He’s stout at the point. He can make plays and he’s got pass rush ability. He can convert on early downs. On first and second in run situations, he can convert and put pressure on the quarterback and effect the quarterback," the Colts coach praised Wednesday.
"He can do it on third down and in pure passing situations. He’s got length and size and toughness. You don’t start that many games in a row without being a tough guy. I don’t think that he ever felt really good through all those starts. He’s a warrior and a tough guy. I’d be shocked if he’s not out there on Sunday with that starting [defensive] unit.”
Putting together a healthy defensive unit for training camp and preseason hasn't been easy.
“Would you love to have four guys play in the back end and play the whole preseason together and have your starters trot out there Week 1 of the regular season? You’d love it," the Colts coach said.
Indianapolis opted to fortify its secondary Wednesday by adding cornerback Rashaan Melvin and waiving quarterback Stephen Morris,
Melvin (6-2, 193) has played in 12 career NFL games (with two starts) and totaled 21 tackles (15 solo), one pass defensed, one forced fumble and two special teams tackles with New England (2015) and Baltimore (2014-15). He spent time with Miami during training camp before being waived during final cuts.
"You watch the tape and you know that a guy like Rashaan, who just got in here, he’s got length, he’s played before, we’ve watched the tape. He’s got speed, toughness and special teams value," Pagano said.
"There’s not an unknown because he’s done it. The unknown is, ‘OK, how quick can we get him up to speed as far as the scheme goes and the communication?’ There’s a little bit there but [he'll] be ready to go.”
• Roster moves — Indianapolis added free-agent outside linebacker Akeem Ayers to the roster Tuesday and waived cornerback Neiko Thorpe.
Ayers has never played in a 3-4 defensive scheme. He is, however, expected to see some work in Sunday's regular-season opener with Detroit. A former starter with the Rams, he has also seen playing time with New England and Tennessee. Ayers was a second round pick by the Titans in 2011.
Also, rookie cornerback Frankie Williams rounded out the Colts' practice squad. Williams, who played collegiately at Purdue, had initially made the team's 53-player roster last Saturday but then was waived.