INDIANAPOLIS — It wasn’t a matter of if the Indianapolis Colts would trade back in next month’s NFL’s draft, but a matter of when.
Colts general manager Chris Ballard, despite dealing with some criticism in being frugal by only signing one player during the first wave of free agency, has stuck his feet firmly in the cement and remained steadfast in fixing the Colts’ roster flaws through the draft.
Ballard will have the opportunity to speed up the process after pulling off arguably the biggest move of what’s been a hectic week of free agency when he traded the No. 3 overall pick to the New York Jets for the No. 6 overall, No. 37 overall (second round) and No. 49 overall (second round) picks in this year’s draft and a second-round pick in the 2019 draft. The Colts now have nine picks in next month’s draft, with four in the top 49.
“You can’t build a sustained winner, one that lasts over time, in free agency,” Ballard said during a town hall event last month. “You can’t do it. You’ve got to draft your own players. At the end of the day, you’ve got to draft and develop and stack drafts. One, two and three drafts on top of each other where these guys are homegrown Colts. That’s where you get players that are loyal to your organization. And that’s how you build a winner. We’ll supplement with free agency. We had to last year.”
Saturday’s move also proved another thing: The Colts are in a clear rebuilding mode after former general manager Ryan Grigson whiffed on previous drafts. The Colts currently doesn’t have any players from the 2013 and 2014 drafts on their roster.
Credit goes to Ballard for being able to pull off the trade because he knew there are several teams starving for quarterback help. That put Ballard in the position to be able to negotiate with a number of teams, which he did, according to sources, to see which deal made the most sense for the franchise. The Colts don’t need a quarterback because they are confident that Andrew Luck will be their starting quarterback next season after missing all of the 2017 season with a shoulder injury.
What also helped the Colts is that it’s not like they’re missing just one key player on their roster. They have numerous holes: Offensive line, middle linebacker, receiver and cornerback are some of their most glaring needs.
They’re still in position that select a player who will immediately help their team without feeling guilty about potentially missing out on Penn State running back Saquon Barkley or North Carolina State defensive end Bradley Chubb.
Depending on the plans of the first four teams, all of which could select a quarterback, the Colts could have their choice between Notre Dame guard Quenton Nelson, Alabama defensive back Minkah Fitzpatrick or perhaps even Chubb.
“I think you’ve got to weigh it versus the player you might take or the players you might take versus the picks you’re going to acquire and who’s going to be there,” Ballard said about possibly moving back during the NFL’s scouting combine last month. “If you trade back and you say, ‘Well look, there’s only 15 or 16 first-round players, actual first-round players. Is it worth trading back for these extra picks?’ And then the player you’re going to take — is he a difference-maker to where this one guy is going to make that much of a difference for our football team versus three guys? I think you’ve just got to weigh it. Are we always open? Absolutely. But at the end of the day, we’ll always do the best thing at the moment, and we’ll do the best thing for the team.”
New Orleans Saints’ Michael Thomas ruled out vs. Green Bay Packers with ankle injury
METAIRIE, La. — New Orleans Saints receiver Michael Thomas won’t play in Sunday night’s game against the Green Bay Packers after he was ruled out for the second straight week with his high ankle sprain.
Thomas has not practiced since he suffered the ankle injury during the final minutes of New Orleans’ Week 1 victory over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. However, the team chose not to place him on injured reserve — which would have required him to miss at least three games. So there is still hope that he could potentially return as soon as next week.
The Saints’ offense struggled without Thomas in Monday night’s 34-24 loss to the Las Vegas Raiders, which led to scrutiny over Drew Brees’ lack of downfield passes.
Brees completed 26 of 38 passes for 312 yards with one touchdown and one interception. Third-year receiver Tre’Quan Smith caught five passes for 86 yards, but newly signed veteran receiver Emmanuel Sanders had just once catch for 18 yards.
“Obviously with the loss of Mike Thomas last week, we’re having to fit some guys in new roles, get some guys some significant playing time, maybe in different situations that they haven’t been in before,” Brees said earlier this week. “I think there definitely is that element of just getting everybody on the same page, everybody in sync. And man, I’m confident with the guys that we have, with the system that we have and everything that we’re gonna be able to get back on track.”
Thomas is obviously vital to New Orleans’ offense. He won the NFL’s Offensive Player of the Year award last season after setting the NFL record with 149 catches in a season.
Thomas isn’t the only star receiver who might be missing from Sunday night’s marquee matchup, however. Packers receiver Davante Adams is listed as doubtful after missing practice all week with a hamstring injury.
Detroit Lions’ Kenny Golladay (hamstring) hopes to make debut vs. Arizona Cardinals
The Detroit Lions seem to be closer to getting back their top wide receiver.
Kenny Golladay said he hopes to make his season debut against the Arizona Cardinals on Sunday after missing the first two games with a hamstring injury. “God-willing, I’m going to try everything in my power to be out there with the guys,” Golladay said.
The Pro Bowl wide receiver practiced on a limited basis Wednesday, Thursday and Friday and said while he doesn’t feel 100 percent — he wouldn’t put a percentage on how healthy he is — he’s going to do everything he can and show enough to play against Arizona.
In three career games, Golladay has three touchdowns against Arizona.
Golladay, 26, said the injury has been frustrating, but that unlike his rookie year when he also had a hamstring injury, he listened to his body more this time around. He also said he understood his body more and wanted to make sure there wouldn’t be any setbacks. So he listened to his trainers and didn’t push anything.
“Me missing a couple of games to try and be back hopefully for Week 3,” Golladay said. “That’s better than me missing six games.”
Detroit is getting healthier. In addition to Golladay, right tackle Halapoulivaati Vaitai (foot) is questionable but practiced all week. Cornerback Desmond Trufant (hamstring) is doubtful, safety C.J. Moore (calf) is questionable and tight end Hunter Bryant (hamstring) is out.
Tennessee Titans LB Vic Beasley finally set for season debut
Beasley has been dealing with a knee injury that limited him in practice for most of the previous two weeks. After working on a separate field with head coach Mike Vrabel, Beasley has been a full participant at practice since Thursday of last week.
The sixth-year linebacker signed a one-year, $9.5 million deal with the Titans in March and took part in virtual meetings with the team during the offseason. But Beasley reported to camp 10 days late, an unexcused absence that resulted in a $500,000 fine.
“There was a little disagreement here and there, but those things are behind us. I have moved on and let bygones be bygones,” Beasley said Friday. “That’s something that we’ll keep confidential between me and the other party. What’s understood is understood. We came to an agreement, settled our differences and are both understanding of the situation. It’s all smiles on both ends, and we are happy to work together.”
Once Beasley got to camp he was placed on the non-football injury list. The Titans listed Beasley on the practice report with a knee injury. Beasley complimented the Titans’ training staff, calling it “amazing” and saying “they have been nothing but good” for him.
As a member of the Atlanta Falcons, Beasley led the NFL with 15.5 sacks in 2015. He finished with 8.5 sacks for the Falcons last season. A questionable work ethic and passion for the game reportedly led to Beasley becoming a free agent. But he feels he’s in the right place with the Titans.
“I’m excited getting to work with Vrabes, a guy who has the defensive perspective and actually played the same position that I did. That can only benefit me,” Beasley said. “I love the game. I wouldn’t waste nobody’s time if I didn’t love the game. I’m not going to give nobody half-hearted effort.”
Now that he is on the field, the Titans hope to get a boost in their pass rush that can help them reach the ultimate goal. Said Beasley, “Here, we are all on the same mission — that’s to win the Super Bowl.”
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