Rayford has made the most of every chance he's been given in Indianapolis. He saw some time with the first-team defense late in the second quarter and early in the third against the Browns and held his own against perennial Pro Bowl left tackle Joe Thomas.
That's the kind of thing that catches the eyes of a coaching staff, and it couldn't have come at a better time. The Colts must trim their roster to 75 players by 4 p.m. Tuesday, and the team cleared 12 names off its list Sunday afternoon.
Cornerbacks Johnny Adams and Allen Chapman, offensive guard Danous Estenor, defensive tackle Kellen Heard, kicker Brandon McManus, running back Davin Meggett, linebacker C.O. Prime, center Rick Schmeig and safety Ashante Williams were released.
The team reached an injury settlement with wide receiver Maurice Williams, and cornerback Teddy Williams was waived-injured. Sidbury's move to IR cleared the 12th roster spot.
The Colts still must make three more cuts by Tuesday, and several players did their best to make the team's decisions difficult during the win against Cleveland.
"You can see the young guys, the second-team guys and some of those young guys that got in there in the second half, the level that they're playing at right now because they're all fighting for jobs," head coach Chuck Pagano said Saturday night. "They're all looking for roster spots. They're trying to make a roster. I think everybody, because of the acquisitions, because of the free agents, because of the draft, those types of things, our roster is in a much better place than it was at any time last year."
In many ways, Rayford might be the right player in the right place at the right time.
Indianapolis entered training camp looking for someone to step up and show he could put pressure on the quarterback. Rayford has answered that call and now could become the most unexpected addition to the regular-season roster.
"One perspective is working your tail off and just going every play like it's your last because you never know," Rayford said of his preseason approach. "That's my whole concept, just playing as hard as I can like it's my last play because there is a lot of great competition and a lot of great talent, and I'm just trying to work my tail off to make an impact."