ANDERSON — Roster construction is never an easy task.
And it could be all the more difficult for the Indianapolis Colts this summer because of injuries at several positions.
The list starts at safety where potential starter Delano Howell has been sidelined for several weeks while he seeks opinions from specialists about a neck injury.
While that is the most serious — and potentially long-term — of the question marks, there is no shortage of others. The Colts must determine how comfortable they are with rookie Jack Mewhort at left guard after he spent several weeks nursing a nagging knee injury. And inside linebacker Josh McNary — a potential contributor in the nickel defense — has missed almost all of the preseason with a shoulder injury.
The defensive line depth was hit hard by season-ending injuries to Fili Moala and Jeris Pendleton, and that could cause Indianapolis to keep bigger numbers in the trenches as insurance.
All of which will only add to the intrigue as head coach Chuck Pagano and general manager Ryan Grigson narrow the roster down to the 53-man limit by 4 p.m. Saturday.
"That's all putting the pieces of the puzzle together and factoring in injuries and when guys are going to be back and how long they're going to be out and those type of things," Pagano said Monday at the Indiana Farm Bureau Football Center. "Certainly don't want to expose or lose somebody that's done a good job that you feel like is a 53-man roster type guy or a practice squad guy. But, again, when you have injuries at certain positions, it may cost you a good player (somewhere else). Hopefully, that won't happen."
The process began Monday with the announcement the team had made its first 11 cuts — cornerback Johnny Adams, cornerback Qua Cox, guard Andre Cureton, guard Marcus Hall, cornerback Kameron Jackson, wide receiver Nu'Keese Richardson, linebacker Jonathon Sharpe, safety David Sims, wide receiver Eric Thomas, wide receiver Tony Washington and fullback Cameron White.
As of late evening, the Colts' roster stood at 79 players. The team must make four more cuts before Tuesday's 4 p.m. deadline.
The remaining 75 players will travel to Cincinnati on Thursday for the final preseason game and one more chance to prove themselves to the coaching staff.
Pagano said the process has grown increasingly more difficult since his first season in Indianapolis in 2012.
"We're deeper at every position," he said. "We've got more competition at every position. Everybody says, 'Hey, getting to 75 is easy, and 53 is much tougher.' We let go of some good football players, some really good football players, yesterday. It wouldn't surprise me to see any of those guys get picked up, probably sooner than later."