Jack Mewhort injury forces Colts to go with 5th different starting offensive line
INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. – The revolving door continues to spin in front of Andrew Luck.
As the Indianapolis Colts face another critical test – Sunday in Nashville against the Tennessee Titans – they’ll do so with a fifth different starting offensive line. It’ll mark the 34th O-line combination in Luck’s 62 regular-season games.
Left guard Jack Mewhort will miss the game with a triceps injury, resulting in changes at two positions. Rookie Joe Haeg, the starter at right tackle the past two games, is expected to replace Mewhort. Veteran Joe Reitz, who started at right tackle the first four games, will return to that spot.
It’s been a season of adjustment for Haeg, who started at right guard against San Diego.
According to coach Chuck Pagano, offensive line coach Joe Philbin considers Haeg an intriguing prospect.
“He’s never seen a guy, especially a rookie, come in and be able to handle the things that he’s handled to this point,’’ Pagano said. “Started, what is it, three positions maybe? For a rookie, that’s outstanding.’’
The team is optimistic Mewhort will return for Oct. 30 game with Kansas City.
Running back Frank Gore believes the Colts have the foundation of a solid offensive line. All that’s missing is experience. Four of the nine linemen on the active roster are rookies: Haeg, center Ryan Kelly, Le’Raven Clark and Austin Blythe. A fifth, starting right guard Denzelle Good, is in his second season.
“They’re fighting and they’re growing,’’ Gore said. “As long as I know they’re fighting, that’s all you can ask. They’re fighting, bro.’’
The Colts’ situation at offensive line reminds Gore of his early seasons with the San Francisco 49ers.
“We grew in San Fran,’’ he said. “I was there when we only had Joe Staley. Then it was bang, bang, bang. We drafted Mike Iupati. We drafted Anthony Davis.
“We grew every year. Once we got to that point where they were grown me, everybody said we had the best line in the league. But it takes time.’’
Gore only has one regret in his relationship with the offensive line. He’s 33 and in his 12th season. He’s also in the second of a three-year contract.
“I wish I was younger. You know what I’m saying?’’ he said with a smile. “If these young guys keep working and we’ve got a great coach (Philbin) . . . if they can stay together, they’re going to be good.
“You can see it. It’s hard, man, but they will be good. They love the game, especially that young guy, Alabama (Kelly). He’s going to b a special dude.’’
We won’t have to wait until 90 minutes prior to Sunday’s kickoff to get the list of the Colts’ inactives. Pagano provided it Friday.
Seven players have been ruled out: Mewhort (triceps), tight end Dwayne Allen (ankle), defensive linemen Henry Anderson (knee) and Zach Kerr (ankle), wide receivers Phillip Dorsett (foot/hamstring) and Donte Moncrief (shoulder) and linebacker Curt Maggitt (ankle).