For starters, Colts have turned to 44 different ones through 7 games
INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. – The list is long and a testament to Frank Reich’s it-takes-everyone approach.
And he means everyone.
It includes Mike Mitchell. Consider his whirlwind month: Oct. 8, working out in South Florida, keeping himself game-ready and waiting for the best fit; Oct. 9, signing with the Indianapolis Colts; Oct. 14, starting against the New York Jets; Oct. 24, being named the AFC Defensive Player of the Week.
And it includes Mark Glowinski. He has started the last two games at right guard and been part of an offensive line group that hasn’t allowed Andrew Luck to be sacked on his last 125 attempts. And here’s where we point out Glowinski’s first five games: he didn’t play in the first three, was on the field for four special teams snaps against Houston and handled 12 offensive snaps at New England.
We’ll allow offensive coordinator Nick Sirianni to offer context to Glowinski. He was flipping through attributes of the offensive linemen this week and finally reached the team’s right guard.
“Just mean and nastiness by Glowinski,’’ he said. “Shoot, I don’t even know Glowinski’s first name. We just call him Glowinski. That’s just the way it is.’’
OK, Sirianni was joking.
“It’s Mark, I know,’’ he said with a laugh. “I was just teasing.’’
But no one should be surprised if a coach had trouble keeping track of this guy, that guy, the next guy asked to step in because an injury sidelined Jack Doyle or Joe Haeg or Anthony Castonzo or Ryan Grant or Clayton Geathers or Matthis Farley.
The Colts find themselves sitting at 2-5 heading to Oakland in large part because they’ve failed to execute critical plays at critical times. But it would be wrong to casually dismiss the impact of injuries that have forced the coaching staff to adjust and general manager Chris Ballard to massage the roster on a weekly basis.
Through seven games the Colts have started – brace yourself – 44 different players. Twenty-three on offense, 21 on defense.
And that’s after seven games.
This is one of those rare situations where it’s easier to list the players on the active roster who haven’t started – 14 – than the ones who have. So we will: Jacoby Brissett, Adam Vinatieri, Luke Rhodes, Rigoberto Sanchez, Matthew Adams, Robert Turbin, Chris Milton, Hassan Ridgeway, Mo Alie-Cox, Evan Boehm, Carroll Phillips, Najee Goode, Jihad Ward and George Odom.
The Colts have started 10 different offensive linemen and five different combinations.
“That’s pretty crazy,’’ said Castonzo, who missed he first five games with a hamstring injury. “That’s a lot, but that’s kind of the NFL. It’s a violent game. Guys get injured.’’
They’ve started five different wideouts, four tight ends. They’ve started seven defensive linemen, six cornerbacks and four safeties.
Four starters are on IR: Haeg, Farley, Matt Slauson and J’Marcus Webb.
Another starter no longer is on the team: Lenzy Pipkins started at corner at New England, was waived five days later and claimed by the Detroit Lions.
Luck, rookie guard Quenton Nelson, center Ryan Kelly, safety Malik Hooker, defensive end Jabaal Sheard and nose tackle Al Woods are the only players to start all seven. Nelson is the only player not to miss a snap (510 of 510).
As the Colts have realized through the first seven weeks of the season, the NFL is a war of attrition.
“I think it is,’’ Sirianni said. “You hope that doesn’t happen to you and you hope that you are able to start the same five (offensive linemen) throughout the entire year.
“I just think reality says that that’s not the case and that there are going to be some changes along the way.’’
Position coach Dave DeGuglielmo has used four right tackles and three left tackles while Castonzo dealt with his hamstring issues.
Coordinator Matt Eberflus was asked if turning to 21 different defensive starters – through seven games – was unusual, or just life in the NFL.
“Yeah, I can’t really vet the numbers,’’ he said. “I don’t know what the numbers would say . . . if that’s a large number or not. I just know that’s the situation we are in.’’
Does that seem like a large number?
“Yes it does seem like a big number, but I don’t know, per se,’’ Eberflus said. “A lot of times it’s injuries and those types of things.
“We certainly are trying to find our way in terms of rush packages and getting guys in certain spots. I think that all lends to that number. But I think also that we are trying to find the best 11 to start with, then the backups and the role players from there.’’
You can follow Mike Chappell on Twitter at @mchappell51.