INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — Indianapolis made the one expected move Saturday — putting NFL reigning sacks champion Robert Mathis on the reserve-suspended list.
Then, they pulled a few surprises.
They put safety Delano Howell on the waived-injured list, cut sixth-round draft pick Andrew Jackson and traded cornerback Marcus Burley to Seattle for a sixth-round choice in 2015 to reach the NFL’s 53-man roster limit.
General manager Ryan Grigson and coach Chuck Pagano may not be finished yet, though.
“We’ll be looking at that (waiver wire) and monitoring our own situation obviously,” coach Chuck Pagano said on a conference call with reporters Friday. “Once we get to the 53, if we can acquire somebody that gets us one step closer to that championship or playing for a championship, obviously you guys know we’ll do whatever we have to do to make this team as strong as possible.”
The only sure thing Saturday was that Mathis, who set a franchise record with 19 1/2 sacks last season, would miss the first four games after violating the NFL’s substance-abuse policy. The suspension officially began at 4 p.m. EDT and he can’t return to the team complex until being reinstated by Commissioner Roger Goodell after Indy hosts Tennessee on Sept. 28.
But there are plenty of other questions that still require answers.
The offensive line is a mess. Starting center Khaled Holmes hasn’t played since the opening possession of the preseason opener because of a sprained right ankle and may not be ready to practice until Wednesday. His backup Jonotthan Harrison, an undrafted rookie who made the roster, didn’t play last week because of an injury to his right thumb, and starting left tackle Donald Thomas will miss the entire season with a torn right quad.
So even if Holmes returns in time for the Sept. 7 opener at Denver, the Colts could be using two second-year players, Holmes and right guard Hugh Thornton, and rookie Jack Mewhort, a second-round pick, at left guard.
That prompted questions this week about whether the Colts had any interest in adding veteran Richie Incognito to the roster.
“I think anybody that’s on the street right now, after the cutdowns this weekend, anybody that comes available we’ll discuss,” Pagano said earlier this week when asked about the guy who allegedly bullied Jonathan Martin in the Dolphins’ locker room last year. “We will not, based on anything, say yea or nay based on history this, that or the other. If it makes sense, if it’s going to help us win and it’s the best thing for the team and this organization moving forward, it doesn’t matter if it’s Richie or anybody else. We’ll do what’s right for this organization and what’s best for this team and what gives us the best chance to win.”
Pagano still hasn’t named a starting safety to play opposite LaRon Landry, either. Howell came to training camp as the front-runner, but his season was put in jeopardy when he re-injured his neck — and the Colts couldn’t afford to keep the roster spot open indefinitely. He will revert to the Colts’ injured reserve list if he clears waivers.
Jackson was expected to help at linebacker, where the Colts have usually struggled with depth, but was outplayed by undrafted rookie Henoc Muamba, who made the roster.
Burley became expendable because another undrafted rookie, Loucheiz Purifoy, played well on defense and gave the Colts a spark in the return game, too.
Indy also released defensive linemen Gannon Conway, Brandon McKinney and Nnamdi Obukwelu; linebackers Phillip Hunt, Rob Ruggiero and Kelvin Sheppard; receivers Ryan Lankford and Josh Lenz; offensive linemen FN Lutz and Josh Walker; tight ends Weslye Saunders and Erik Swoope; running back David Fluellen; quarterback Chandler Harnish; defensive end Tyler Hoover; safety Dewey McDonald and cornerback Sheldon Price.
Offensive lineman Matt Hall was put on the waived-injured after sustaining a season-ending arm injury Thursday night.
Teams can start filling out their practice squads Sunday.