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Is Colts’ CB Marvell Tell III a Surprise Cut Candidate?

After entering training camp with high expectations, Tell could be on the outside looking in when roster cuts come Tuesday. (Video via Indianapolis Colts YouTube).

When training camp began in July, numerous players on the Indianapolis Colts were looking to make an impact.

One of those players was Marvell Tell III, the 2019 fifth-round pick who had transitioned to cornerback after playing safety in college at USC. Tell opted out of the 2020 season due to COVID-19, but was coming into 2021 ready to contribute in a major way.

Tell entered camp poised to fight for a starting spot. With incumbent Rock Ya-Sin’s uneven play over the past couple of seasons, the outside corner position opposite Xavier Rhodes was seen to be up for grabs.

Defensive coordinator Matt Eberflus reiterated this in OTA’s, making it known CB3 was an open competition.

“Everybody’s got to prove where they need to be,” Eberflus said. “Rock Ya-Sin has done a really good job being here, and we like where he is. With Marvell Tell, we never got chance to see him the entire year…we’re pleasantly surprised where he is. He’s changed his body, he’s been doing different things to work his body in different way and he looks really good.”

Ya-Sin and Tell were the favorites for the position going into camp. Now that camp is almost over, the gap between the two has grown exponentially.

While Ya-Sin has not been perfect, he has had a solid camp and made plays in the secondary. He was tested numerous times against the Minnesota Vikings and forced incompletions on numerous occasions. It looks as if Ya-Sin will continue to be the starter at CB3 as the season begins.

Aug 17, 2019; Indianapolis, IN, USA; Cleveland Browns wide receiver D.J. Montgomery (83) and Indianapolis Colts cornerback Marvell Tell (39) fight for a passed ball in the second half of the game at Lucas Oil Stadium.

Unfortunately for Tell, he has been almost non-existent throughout camp. It’s not that Tell has been bad, but he has not done anything to make his case as someone that must be kept on the roster. In both practices and games, Tell has had a very quiet preseason.

Now, when looking at the cornerback group as a whole, Rhodes, Ya-Sin, and Kenny Moore figure to be the starters. T.J. Carrie was getting plenty of run with the starters early in camp and will be on the roster even though he is currently nursing a knee injury. Isaiah Rodgers has been a playmaker throughout camp by making interceptions in practice and locking up the kick return duties.

With the Colts typically keeping six cornerbacks, wouldn’t that make Tell safe being the sixth corner? Not necessarily.

One of the standouts of camp has been Andre Chachere. Chachere has great position versatility with the ability to play outside or inside cornerback as well as safety. His playmaking ability and nose for the ball have been impressive throughout the preseason and he has rightfully earned a roster spot.

There are also a few players at safety competing with Tell for the final spots in the secondary.

Second-year Indianapolis Colts cornerback Marvell Tell III has decided to opt-out on the 2020 NFL season.

Sean Davis has had a strong end to camp after starting slowly. The six-year pro formerly of the Pittsburgh Steelers recorded three interceptions in the final week of training camp practices and provides special teams help to a Colts’ team that greatly values that in their players.

Rookie Shawn Davis is also in the mix. The fifth-round pick out of Florida took reps with the first-team defensive at strong safety when Khari Willis had a rest day earlier this week. The Colts believe that Shawn has a very high football IQ and his knack for forcing turnovers entices the coaching staff.

The Indianapolis Colts cornerbck Marvell Tell (39) and cornerback Holton Hill (35) run a play during Colts Camp on Sunday, August 8, 2021, at Grand Park in Westfield, Ind.

It’s crazy to think that Tell has gone from a potential starter when camp began, to possibly not making the roster. A good performance against the Detroit Lions in the Colts’ preseason finale could help his case to make the final 53. Otherwise, Tell could very well be suiting up in the blue and white for the final time.

Have thoughts on the Colts potentially cutting cornerback Marvell Tell III? Drop a line in the comments section below letting us know how you feel! 

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