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Colts at Bengals: Five players on the bubble

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For more on the Colts, follow Reggie Hayes via Twitter at www.twitter.com/reggiehayes1

The final preseason game precedes final cuts

Thursday, August 29, 2013 - 6:37 am

As the Indianapolis Colts play their final preseason game at 7 tonight in Cincinnati, several players will be fighting for a roster spot. A strong performance won't guarantee a spot when the Colts trim their roster to 53 on Friday, but it can't hurt.

Here are five players feeling the pressure:

Chandler Harnish, quarterback

Harnish made the season-opening active roster a year ago and hopes to do so again. The question is whether the Colts will keep three active quarterbacks. They've settled on veteran Matt Hasselbeck as the backup to Andrew Luck. If Harnish, the former Norwell High School standout, doesn't make the 53-man roster, he could draw interest from other teams looking to add an intelligent backup with a great attitude.

Caesar Rayford, linebacker

The surprise of the preseason so far, Rayford has been a veritable quarterback-sacking machine, albeit often against second- and third-string offenses. He's an unusual size (6-foot-7, 267 pounds) for the position, but has a motor that won't stop. Colts coach Chuck Pagano talks about players making themselves necessary in the preseason. Rayford is an intriguing prospect.

Dominique Jones, tight end

Pagano expects hobbled tight ends Dwayne Allen and Coby Fleener to be ready for the Sept. 8 opener against the Oakland Raiders, although they won't play tonight. While the Colts are likely to keep a backup tight end, will it be Jones or Mr. Irrelevant draft pick Justice Cunningham? Jones might have an edge because of his ability to play fullback, too.

Delano Howell, safety

The second-year player from Stanford has had some strong moments at times but with Antoine Bethea and LaRon Landry healthy, the question might be how many safeties the Colts keep. Joe Lefeged, Sergio Brown and Larry Asante are also in the mix. Lefeged has the strongest track record with the Colts as a big-time special teams player.

Marshay Green, cornerback

Green, a second-year player out of Mississippi, has shown some spark in the return game, but with Darius Butler, Cassius Vaughn and Josh Gordy likely ahead of him behind starters Vontae Davis and Greg Toler, will there be a room for that many corners?