Ryan Grigson's Colts fade away as Chris Ballard adds 26 new faces

INDIANAPOLIS -- Getting Andrew Luck healthy was not the only issue Chris Ballard faced when he was hired as general manager of the Indianapolis Colts back in January.

It likely didn't take long for Ballard to realize the Colts not only had an old roster, but a bad one, too. For years under former general manager Ryan Grigson, Indianapolis felt Luck was talented enough to be a band-aid for all the flaws on the roster. That worked for his first three seasons, when the Colts made the playoffs. But the more Luck started to get banged up, the more the band-aid started to come off and reveal the scabs on the roster. One of the biggest problems under the previous regime is that the roster was top heavy with not much depth behind it.

It won't be an overnight process, but Ballard has steadily been removing players from last season's roster. Gone are players like Mike Adams, D'Qwell Jackson, Erik Walden, Dwayne Allen, David Parry and even 2015 first-round pick Phillip Dorsett. Twenty-six of the 53 players currently on the Colts were not on the roster last season.

"We're younger, and I do think we've upgraded the talent," Ballard said. "Are we where we want to be yet? Not yet, not yet. But I think if you asked every team in the league, they would all tell you, every team in the league is going to be monitoring, trying to get better and upgrade certain positions. And that's a constant -- that's a 365-day-a-year job."

Ballard wasn't joking when he said it's a 365-day-a-year job when it comes to fixing the roster. That's necessary, especially in this situation after back-to-back 8-8 seasons where the Colts also missed the playoffs.

A good indication, according to the general manager, of where your roster stands is by how many of your released players get picked up and signed by other teams. Defensive lineman T.Y. McGill and offensive lineman Zach Banner were both claimed off waivers by the Cleveland Browns. Parry went from starting every game during his two seasons with the Colts to being signed to New Orleans' practice squad on Tuesday.

"When we get to a point when we've got guys, seven, eight guys getting claimed on other rosters, people trying to get us, that's when you've got it right," Ballard said.

Ballard basically stood on the tallest building in Indianapolis and screamed competition and roster depth the entire offseason. The competition side hasn't really been what the Colts envisioned because of consistent injury problems since the team reported to training camp at the end of July. The depth on the roster is about to be tested because of those same injury problems.

Two of the team's top three cornerbacks -- Nate Hairston and Quincy Wilson -- for Sunday's game at the Los Angeles Rams will be rookies. The Colts will also likely start a rookie at center in Deyshawn Bond.

"The depth of your roster in this league is critical," he said. "Once you get past the starters in this league, the ninth lineman plays. In Week 7, 8 or 9 or 10, he's gonna start. Your fourth or fifth or sixth corner, that guy's gonna play. We've got to continue to be looking for depth on the roster."