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Colts Still Searching For Right Offensive Line Mix
August 23, 2017 02:40 PM | Andrew Walker
INDIANAPOLIS -Shuffling things up along the offensive line is nothing new for the Indianapolis Colts, who had multiple lineups up front last season due to a variety of injuries.

And while the injury bug has been a factor for the line again through training camp and, now, halfway through the preseason schedule, the overall goal remains to eventually find the best five players at each spot so that continuity and cohesiveness - two oh-so-important factors for any successful offensive line - can follow.

Colts head coach Chuck Pagano said Tuesday that four of those spots -left tackle, left guard, center and right guard -are "right there," while the right tackle position is still very much up for grabs as the team heads into its third preseason game Saturday against the Pittsburgh Steelers.

"It's been a little bit of a challenge but it is what it is," Pagano said. "We're able to move some guys around. ... We'll just keep plugging away and like I said, a lot of young guys are getting valuable reps."

For now, the team seems set with Anthony Castonzo at left tackle, Joe Haeg at left guard, Deyshawn Bond replacing the injured Ryan Kelly at center and Jack Mewhort at right guard. The team also on Wednesday morning restored veteran center/guard Brian Schwhenke to the active roster from the PUP list.

But because both Haeg and Mewhort have been in and out of practice the last couple of weeks with minor injuries, offensive line coach Joe Philbin has been able to plug in other players into their spots from time to time and help develop some depth behind the starting unit.

While Haeg has mostly been able to get back full-time in recent days (he played 24 snaps with the starting offense last Saturday against the Dallas Cowboys), Mewhort has been monitored a little bit closer, as the team tries to ensure he's fully ready to go by its regular season opener Sept. 10 against the Los Angeles Rams.

"We're taking the right approach with Jack," Pagano said. "He wants to be out there every snap. He's a warrior. He's got the right mindset but we got to protect him from himself.

"The thing is to get him to the season opener as healthy as we can, feeling as good as he can and also having the (right) amount of reps and play time to where he can feel confident and we can feel confident."

The right tackle position, meanwhile, is a completely different story.

While second-year lineman Le'Raven Clark mostly worked with the first-team at right tackle to begin training camp, others have emerged as starting candidates at the position, including Jeremy Vujnovich - who has started the Colts' first two preseason games at right tackle - and even 2017 fourth-round pick Zach Banner.

Pagano also listed Denzelle Good - who has started 14 games along the offensive line for the Colts the past two seasons - as a guy who can fill in at both guard and tackle.

"We're just going to keep moving around, get guys in spots," Pagano said. "Zach Banner has been out here every day. He's getting better every single day. He's a big, big man. I'm excited to see how he does this game. We've got Denzelle (Good) back out here doing some stuff. There's a lot of good competition right now for that spot."

Then there's the aforementioned Kelly, who was expected to undergo surgery late last week after suffering an injury to his foot during practice on Aug. 10. Kelly is expected to miss at least the start of the regular season.

His injury has given a hard-working, undrafted rookie like Bond an opportunity to show what he can do in the interim, and, as Pagano said, there's no cause for frustration or disappointment that the team has yet to land on a permanent starter at each position up front as of yet.

"Again, it's football," Pagano said. "You're going to have some injuries. It's unfortunate what happened to Ryan (Kelly), but it is what it is. We've got to keep moving along"







The analysis from those producing content on Colts.com does not necessarily represent the thoughts of the Indianapolis Colts organization. Any conjecture, analysis or opinions formed by Colts.com content creators is not based on inside knowledge gained from team officials, players or staff.
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