Indianapolis Colts: D'Qwell Jackson

Examining the Indianapolis Colts' roster:

This is the safest position on the roster for the Colts. They plan to always keep a veteran backup if Luck ever goes down with an injury.


The Colts will have a solid running combination if -- and we’re saying if until proven wrong -- Richardson can bounce back from a poor first season in Indianapolis and Bradshaw and Ballard can stay injury-free. Havili, a fullback, gets the edge over Mario Harvey, who switched from linebacker to fullback during offseason workouts.


The final receiver spot will come down to Rogers and Griff Whalen. If the Colts want to play it safe, Whalen is the guy because he’s familiar with Luck and offensive coordinator Pep Hamilton, but Rogers has the size and speed the team likes. There’s also the possibility of the Colts keeping six receivers.


Allen, who missed all but one game in 2013, and Fleener have the potential to be one of the top tight end duos in the league. Doyle and Saunders are both familiar with the system after backing up Fleener in Allen’s absence last season.


There are plenty of questions surrounding the offensive line outside of tackles Castonzo and Cherilus. The one thing general manager Ryan Grigson wanted with this group is depth. The Colts have plenty of it.


Like the offensive line, the Colts want depth on the defensive line so they can constantly rotate in players, so come the fourth quarter they still have fresh legs to get after the opponent. Jones was the key offseason acquisition for the Colts. Chapman showed flashes last season; now he needs to do it every snap that he’s on the field.


All eyes will be on outside linebacker as the Colts look to find a replacement for Mathis, who is suspended for the first four games of the season. Werner gets the first crack at starting in Mathis’ spot. McNary is a player for whom Grigson has high expectations. It’ll be up to defensive coordinator Greg Manusky on how he uses McNary.


It’s anybody’s guess how the secondary will perform. It’s anybody’s guess who will start alongside Landry at safety. It looked like it would be Howell for most of the offseason, but the Colts signed the veteran Adams in June. Can Toler finally remain healthy? Can Davis live up to his contract? So many questions with no answers at the moment.


This only changes if an injury occurs.

Poll: Colts' position weakness

July, 2, 2014
The start of training camp is three weeks away. The Indianapolis Colts used the offseason to fine-tune some things rather than make wholesale changes.


What position is the Colts' biggest area of concern heading into training camp?


Discuss (Total votes: 1,821)

Enter linebacker D'Qwell Jackson, defensive lineman Arthur Jones and receiver Hakeem Nicks. Gone are center Samson Satele, safety Antoine Bethea and guard Mike McGlynn. Re-signed were running back Ahmad Bradshaw and cornerback Vontae Davis.

Those were just some of the highlights -- or low-lights, depending how you look at it -- of the moves made by Indianapolis.

The Colts hope the offseason moves will be enough to help them close the gap with Denver and New England in the AFC this season.

But, of course, there are some who still don’t believe general manager Ryan Grigson did enough for that to happen.

Which position do you think is the Colts’ biggest area of concern heading into training camp?
INDIANAPOLIS -- Consistency.

That’s what the Indianapolis Colts need out of their defense this season. They need more performances like they had against the Kansas City Chiefs in the regular season and less of the performances they had against St. Louis, Arizona and New England.

The Colts defense, which finished 20th in the league last season, continues to lag behind the offense. That has to change this season. The unit must close the gap between them and the offense.

We looked at the offensive starters Monday. Here’s a look at the projected defensive starters.

Defensive line:

Cory Redding, Art Jones, Ricky Jean Francois

Comment: Jones and his likely backup at tackle, Josh Chapman, should help improve a defense up the middle that finished 26th in the league in stopping the run last season.


Bjoern Werner, Jerrell Freeman, D'Qwell Jackson, Erik Walden

Comment: Robert Mathis, the NFL’s sack leader last season, will eventually end up starting once he returns from his four-game suspension. Werner will have to hold down the position while Mathis is out.


Vontae Davis, Greg Toler

Comment: Davis and Toler have the potential to be a successful tandem at cornerback. But that’s only if Davis doesn’t have lapses like he had last season and Toler can remain healthy.


LaRon Landry, Mike Adams

Comment: Landry was a disappointment last season. He has to commit himself to being an all-around safety, not one more worried about making the big hit.
INDIANAPOLIS -- The Indianapolis Colts, in particular general manager Ryan Grigson, have received a lot of criticism over the makeup of their roster. Quarterback Andrew Luck's talent has helped the Colts overcome many of their flaws on the roster.

Sam Monson of Pro Football Focus doesn't believe the Colts' roster is as bad as some tend to think. Monson recently wrote that the Colts have the 12th-best roster in the NFL. To narrow it down even more, the Colts have the fifth-best roster in the AFC.

Monson breaks the starting units based off six major categories, ranging from elite down to a poor starter. There are also two additional categories -- not enough information and rookie.

Monson thinks the Colts have three players who are "below average" starters, and they are three players Grigson spent money on to acquire in free agency in the past two offseasons -- linebackers D'Qwell Jackson and Erik Walden and cornerback Greg Toler.

And to no surprise there are two players Pro Football Focus doesn't have enough information on, and one they believe is a poor starter. Center Khaled Holmes and safety Delano Howell are the two players they don't have enough information on and guard Hugh Thornton is the poor starter.

Holmes only played 12 snaps last season as a rookie and Howell is the frontrunner to replace Antoine Bethea, who signed with San Francisco, at safety.
INDIANAPOLIS -- As someone pointed out to me, there were only 98 days until the start of the NFL season as of Sunday.

Ninety-eight is also the number of Indianapolis Colts linebacker Robert Mathis. Mathis, as you know, is suspended for the first four games of the 2014 season for failing the league's drug policy.

There's still plenty of time between now and Sept. 7 to determine who will join D'Qwell Jackson, Erik Walden and Jerrell Freeman in the starting lineup at Mathis' linebacker spot.

Second-year linebacker Bjoern Werner is getting the first crack at starting in those four games.

"All the young pass-rushers have to step up," he said. "We don't know who the guy is, everybody is seeing opportunity and everybody is just trying to replace him for the first four games."

Werner, who missed three games last season with a torn plantar fascia in his right foot, had 18 tackles and 2.5 sacks during his rookie season. Like Mathis did in his first year under coach Chuck Pagano's 3-4 defensive scheme, Werner had to make the adjustment from being a defensive end in college to being an outside linebacker. He has spent the offseason getting stronger.

Werner will be pushed by Daniel Adongo, Cam Johnson, Andy Studebaker and Jonathan Newsome for playing time at outside linebacker with Mathis out.

"I prepare the same way before the whole situation with Robert came out, and I'll keep preparing the same way," Werner said. "I feel great, I've had a great offseason and just seize the moment. Hopefully I'm the guy, but that's coach's situation."
Here's Wednesday's Colts' Reading The Coverage ...
  • David Climers of The Tennessean writes that NFL commissioner Roger Goodell should strip the Colts of draft picks for owner Jim Irsay being arrested in March. Irsay was charged with two misdemeanors last week.

  • The Indianapolis Star has a story questioning if Irsay received preferential treatment from the prosecutor's office after he was arrested. It took more than two months before charges were filed and Irsay's drug charges disappeared.

  • Mike Chappell of the Indianapolis Star has a story on new linebacker D'Qwell Jackson and how he'll do more than just provide tackles and leadership for the Colts. Jackson had a significant impact with the inner-city youth of Cleveland during his time with the Browns.

INDIANAPOLIS -- Delano Howell's starting résumé consists of three games during his two seasons with the Indianapolis Colts.

Now Howell appears to be in line to be the Colts' starting safety next season, replacing long-time starter Antoine Bethea , who signed with San Francisco in March.

That became even more evident when the Colts decided against selecting a safety in the draft. Howell will have some competition for the spot, but the job is his to lose. Sergio Brown, Corey Lynch and Colt Anderson are in the mix for the job, too.

A key for Howell will be whether he's able to be interchangeable with Landry and also have good cover skills -- the main two things coach Chuck Pagano and general manager Ryan Grigson are looking for.

"All I think back to is Delano Howell," Pagano said. "We went out and beat a pretty good football team (San Francisco), I think he started at safety that game and had, I don't know, six, seven, eight tackles or something, was pretty productive in that ball game. He returned a blocked field goal for a touchdown against Seattle. He's not the only one. We've got guys in-house that will be great competition there."

Howell started three games in place of the injured LaRon Landry last season. The Colts won two of those three games. Howell totaled 21 tackles in his three starts.

Howell is the quiet teammate in the locker room, the one you have to seek out because he's not a jokester or one who's always talking. He's the same soft-spoken teammate quarterback Andrew Luck had while at Stanford.

"Very much the sort of strong, silent type, the Clint Eastwood type," Luck said. "Say a little, do a lot. He's been that way for a long time, which makes it really fun to play with him."

The Colts think the signing of linebacker D'Qwell Jackson and defensive lineman Arthur Jones will help ease some of the burden on the secondary. Bethea ended his time with the Colts by having four straight seasons with at least 100 tackles.

"I feel good about the guys that are here and I think at the end of the day, we bolstered our front seven," Pagano said. "The better the front seven is, the more pressure you can put on the passer, it certainly helps the back end."
INDIANAPOLIS – The Indianapolis Colts entered free agency last month with the fourth-most salary-cap space ($41 million). General manager Ryan Grigson was very open in saying that they weren’t going to be free spenders on the market.

He was right.

The Colts have been one of the least active teams in the NFL when it comes to signing players that were on other teams last season.

The fine folks at ESPN Stats & Information say the Colts are tied for the second fewest free-agent/trade additions with only four players being signed.

The Colts have signed receiver Hakeem Nicks, defensive lineman Arthur Jones, center Phil Costa and linebacker D’Qwell Jackson. The Colts still have about $13.4 million in salary-cap space available.

Here’s a breakdown of the teams that have made the fewest moves and most moves so far during the offseason:


Analyzing McShay mock 4.0: Colts 

April, 10, 2014
ESPN NFL draft analyst Todd McShay posted his 2014 mock draft Insider earlier on Thursday.

As you’ve been reminded every time you hear the name “Trent Richardson,” the Indianapolis Colts do not have a first-round pick because of their trade with Cleveland to acquire the running back last September.

Analyzing Kiper Grade A draft: Colts 

April, 3, 2014
ESPN draft guru Mel Kiper Jr.'s fourth 2014 NFL mock draftInsider is out and instead of wondering who the Colts would have taken if they kept the No. 26 pick, which is now Cleveland's property courtesy of the trade for running back Trent Richardson, Kiper has a mock through the first three rounds based on team need.

To continue reading this article you must be an Insider

The Indianapolis Colts have $13.4 million is salary-cap space, according to the information passed along from the fine folks at ESPN Stats & Information.

The $13.4 million in cap space is the 10th most in the NFL. Houston ($13.6 million), Buffalo ($14.2 million), Seattle ($14.9 million), Green Bay ($16.1 million), Philadelphia ($20.5 million), Cincinnati ($24.8 million), Jacksonville ($25.2 million), the New York Jets ($26.9 million) and Cleveland ($31 million) are the teams with more cap space than the Colts.

Pittsburgh ($1.1 million), Detroit ($1.3 million), New Orleans ($1.7 million), San Diego ($3.7 million) and San Francisco ($4.1 million) have the least amount of cap space in the league.

Here's a look at the 10 players with the highest cap number for the Colts:
  1. LB Robert Mathis: $8.75 million
  2. CB Vontae Davis: $6.2 million
  3. WR Reggie Wayne: $6.1 million
  4. QB Andrew Luck: $6.0 million
  5. DE Arthur Jones: $5.6 million
  6. DT Ricky Jean Francois: $5.1 million
  7. CB Greg Toler: $4.8 million
  8. S LaRon Landry: $4.75 million
  9. LB D'Qwell Jackson: $4.75 million
  10. DE Cory Redding: $4.3 million

Who would start for the Colts today?

March, 31, 2014
I was asked over the weekend (via @TSN_JRodriguez) what I thought the Indianapolis Colts' starting lineup would look like if they didn’t make any more roster moves outside of the draft.

More roster moves will be made outside of the draft before training camp opens in late July, but here is who I think would start if the Colts had to play a game today (with a healthy roster).

QB: Andrew Luck
RB: Trent Richardson
FB: Stanley Havili
WR: T.Y. Hilton
WR: Reggie Wayne
TE: Dwayne Allen

LT: Anthony Castonzo
LG: Donald Thomas
C: Khaled Holmes
RG: Hugh Thornton
RT: Gosder Cherilus

DE: Cory Redding
NT: Arthur Jones
RE: Ricky Jean Francois

OLB: Erik Walden
ILB: D’Qwell Jackson
ILB: Jerrell Freeman
OLB: Robert Mathis

CB: Vontae Davis
CB: Greg Toler
S: LaRon Landry
S: Delano Howell

I went with Holmes at center because I left the NFL owners' meetings last week with the impression the Colts want Holmes to be the starter, with Phil Costa available if Holmes gets injured or struggles.

Colts free-agency tracker

March, 19, 2014
INDIANAPOLIS -- The Indianapolis Colts opened free agency with the fourth-most salary-cap space in the league. Their cap space has shrunk after signing several free agents like cornerback Vontae Davis and defensive lineman Arthur Jones. The Colts have about $13.5 million in cap space remaining.

They’re still in need of a safety and possibly a guard and another center.

Here's a look at who the Colts have signed, who has moved on and who is still waiting to sign with a team.

Heading to Indianapolis

DE/DT Arthur Jones

Status: Signed a five-year, $33 million contract with $10 million guaranteed

LB D'Qwell Jackson

Status: Signed four-year, $22 million contract with $11 million guaranteed

C Phil Costa

Status: Signed a one-year, $1.2 million contract with $450,000 guaranteed

WR Hakeem Nicks

Status: Signed a one-year, $3.9 million contract with $2.25 million guaranteed

Staying put

RB Ahmad Bradshaw

Status: Signed a one-year deal for $855,000

CB Vontae Davis

Status: Signed a four-year deal for $39 million with $20 million guaranteed

S Sergio Brown

Status: Signed a one-year deal for $1.4 million with $300,000 guaranteed

P Pat McAfee

Status: Signed a five-year deal for $14.5 million with $5 million guaranteed

K Adam Vinatieri

Status: Signed a two-year contract for $5 million with $500,000 guaranteed

Moving on

S Antoine Bethea

Status: Signed a four-year, $23 million contract with $9.25 guaranteed with San Francisco

C Samson Satele

Status: Released on March 6

RB Donald Brown

Status: Signed a three-year, $10 million contract with $4 million guaranteed with San Diego

OL Jeff Linkenbach

Status: Signed a one-year, $900,000 contract with $250,000 guaranteed with Kansas City

LB Kavell Conner

Status: Signed a three-year, $2.7 million with San Diego

Still waiting

OL Justin Anderson, RB Tashard Choice, DT Aubrayo Franklin, WR Darrius Heyward-Bey, LB Scott Lutrus, DE Ricardo Mathews, DT Jake McDonough, OL Mike McGlynn, LB Lawrence Sidbury, CB Cassius Vaughn, LB Pat Angerer

Scout's take on Arthur Jones

March, 12, 2014
INDIANAPOLIS – Arthur Jones’ impact on the field for the Indianapolis Colts won’t be determined until sometime during the 2014 season.

ESPN’s resident NFL scout Matt Williamson was able to give a quick breakdown of how Jones will be able to help the Colts on defense.

“Jones is exactly what they need up front,” Williamson said. “He is a big body and tough. He’s very tough to move at the point of attack as a 3-4 defensive end. He has really played well over the past two seasons (and stood out during Baltimore’s Super Bowl run) and seems to be getting better. He doesn't offer a ton as a pass rusher, though, but can push the pocket with a bull rush.”

Jones, who can play defensive end and defensive tackle, is coming off a season where he had 53 tackles and four sacks last season with the Ravens. He had 47 tackles and 4.5 sacks during Baltimore's Super Bowl season of 2012.

One thing Williamson noted is the Colts are trying to get a defense “very much like” Baltimore’s. That’s understandable considering Colts coach Chuck Pagano spent four years, including one as defensive coordinator, with the Ravens. Jones joins Cory Redding as former Baltimore players with the Colts.

Jones’ addition goes with the signing of linebacker D’Qwell Jackson last week in what the Colts hope will be a better front seven next season. Indianapolis was 20th in the league overall on defense and 26th in stopping the run last season. Cornerback Vontae Davis was also re-signed Tuesday.