Losing center Ryan Kelly indefinitely is latest injury issue to plague Colts

Ryan Kelly

INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. – Jack Doyle has a firm grasp of the NFL. He understands and accepts how injuries come with the territory and it’s counterproductive to dwell on who’s in and who’s out.

Injuries, the Indianapolis Colts’ veteran tight end insisted Thursday morning, are “part of it. We know that going in. It’s always something.

“You can’t (worry about them). It’s a waste of time. When week 1 comes, we’ll see who’s out there and we’ll roll.’’

Trouble is, there’s every likelihood the Colts won’t exactly roll into their Sept. 10 opener against the Los Angeles Rams.

Already uncertain whether they’ll be led by quarterback Andrew Luck – he’s still on PUP and iffy for the Rams – the Colts are certain they won’t have their starting center.

Ryan Kelly, the unquestioned anchor of the offensive line, will miss at least the start of the season after it was determined he’ll undergo foot surgery. Efforts to address the injury, which occurred last Thursday, with a week of immobilization proved fruitless.

ESPN.com, citing an unnamed source, reported Kelly is expected to miss 6-8 weeks with surgery that will repair a “bone defect.’’

“We put him in a boot roughly six or seven days ago and we wanted to give it week,’’ Chuck Pagano said. “Always err on the side of caution, immobilize that thing and that thing’s going to heal on its own.

“That’s not the case. Ryan’s unfortunately going to have to have surgery. He’ll make a full and complete recovery, (but) he’s going to miss some time. How much time, I don’t know. I don’t have a timetable.’’

Neither does the team have a firm grasp on how it will deal with what it hopes is Kelly’s short-term absence.

“We’ll look at everybody,’’ Pagano said. “The roster’s fluid. We bring guys in all the time.’’

Last week, the team brought in veteran center/guard Jeremy Zuttah, 31, for a free-agent visit. He earned was a Pro Bowl alternate at center last season with the Baltimore Ravens, and has started 117 games in nine seasons with the Ravens and Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

Whatever the level of interest the Colts showed in Zuttah last week had to heighten with the medical update on Kelly. That said, the leverage in any negotiations has swung to Zuttah, who also is reportedly talking with the Ravens.

The options internally are Deyshawn Bond, an undrafted rookie and Warren Central High School product, and Adam Redmond. The team signed free agent Brian Schwenke during the offseason to provide interior depth, but he’s still on PUP with a foot injury.

“The coaches and my teammates expect guys to step up when needed,’’ said Bond, who started Sunday’s preseason opener against Detroit and will do so again Saturday night in Dallas. “When it’s my opportunity to come in and get the job done, that’s what they need to see me do.’’

The significance of Kelly’s loss can’t be overstated. The 2016 first-round draft pick stepped into the starting lineup in his first rookie practice and provided stability at a position that had been in constant flux since Luck’s arrival in 2012.

Prior to Kelly’s arrival as the 18th overall pick in the draft, the Colts had used five different centers: Samon Satele, Mike McGlynn, A.Q Shipley, Jon Harrison, Khaled Holmes.

The revolving door was testimony to the dissatisfaction with the performance at the position.

Kelly offered durability and effectiveness. He was one of 11 NFL rookies to start all 16 games and did not allow a sack, according to Pro Football Focus.

While the status of Luck has been an issue since the start of training camp and now Kelly’s situation moves into the spotlight, injuries have plagued the Colts the last month.

The progress of the offense has especially been hindered. Among players who have missed time: wideouts Donte Moncrief (shoulder), Phillip Dorsett (hamstring) and Chester Rogers (hamstring), tight end Erik Swoope (knee surgery), guard Joe Haeg (burner), rookie running back Marlon Mack (shoulder).

Defensively, the Colts at times have been without lineman Johnathan Hankins (ankle), rookie safety Malik Hooker (shoulder), linebackers Jon Bostic (finger), Sean Spence (hamstring) and Antonio Morrison (groin). And that’s not a complete list.

“You’d like to have them all out here,’’ Pagano said, clearly frustrated by the spate of injuries. “And it makes it tough. But you’ve got to work. You’ve got to practice.

“My hat goes off to all the guys that are here and have practiced and pushed through. There are some guys out here who are practicing that are really hurt. They’re sucking it up and pushing through it. And it’s our vets. We have some guys that have been out here a long time and played a lot of football.’’

Pagano singled out free-agent wideout Kamar Aiken.

“He’s ran as much as anybody. He’s a warrior,’’ he said. “Young Nate Hairston, he’s battling something. He didn’t want to come out. He’s pushing through. Guys have to push through. You can’t stop.’’

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