INDIANAPOLIS – Now, the Indianapolis Colts can start making their choices.
With the preseason over, coach Jim Caldwell and team president Bill Polian will spend time debating numbers, players and potential as they trim the roster from 75 to the mandated 53 by Saturday night.
"The fact of the matter is that there are not 48 positions determined before we go to training camp. There are probably closer to 38 than 48," Polian said last week. "That is a lot of evaluating to do and a lot of practicing to do."
The Colts have plenty to consider.
Six defensive backs have already been placed on season-ending injured reserve.
The two most prominent names on that list are veteran safety Jamie Silva and third-round pick Kevin Thomas. With three Pro Bowl-caliber safeties, three proven cornerbacks and free-agent acquisition Deshea Townsend likely to make the team, two or three spots in the secondary are likely to still be open.
Safety Mike Newton and cornerback Terrail Lambert have been impressive throughout training camp and much of the preseason. Have they played well enough to earn a roster spot?
"It's more of a body of work," Caldwell said Friday, one day after the Colts finished a winless preseason. "You take everything into consideration. You try to make an assessment of how they'll fit in and if they make your team stronger."
Another area that's been hit hard by injuries is the offensive line.
Pro Bowl center Jeff Saturday did limited work in practice this week for the first time since having arthroscopic surgery on his right knee Aug. 20, and left tackle Charlie Johnson is still out with a sprained right foot.
That could force the Colts to keep more than their standard eight or nine linemen, meaning they'd have to cut someone from another spot.
"All of it plays a part," Caldwell said. "Sometimes we might feel we need a little depth (at a particular position). Sometimes an injury may have occurred at certain positions where you need to fortify it a little bit more."
The other big decision will come in the return game.
Undrafted rookies Devin Moore and Brandon James have both been impressive, at times, though James muffed a punt that Green Bay recovered for a TD in Week 3. Another player in the mix is cornerback Ray Fisher, a seventh-round pick out of Indiana. Fisher played receiver and cornerback in college, and his versatility could be an advantage if the Colts are trying to save roster spots.
"It's good when they make our decisions tough because it shows us that we have a lot of depth," Caldwell said. "That depth is going to strengthen us however it turns out."