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Several Colts Ruled Out; C Thomas Austin Promoted

The Colts today promoted center Thomas Austin from the practice squad to the active roster and waived running back Shaun Draughn. The team also officially ruled out several players for Sunday's game against the Chiefs.

Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

The Indianapolis Colts today promoted center Thomas Austin from the practice squad to the active roster and waived running back Shaun Draughn.  Austin was originally signed by the Colts near the beginning of training camp.  He stayed with the team through the end of preseason but was then released and signed to the practice squad, where he has spent 11 of the 15 weeks of the season (the other 4 he was released).  He has been on the Colts practice squad for the past seven weeks, however, and was promoted because of the many injuries to the offensive line.  Draughn was signed earlier this week and despite Chuck Pagano insisting that the signing wasn't because of Donald Brown's injury last week, his release just days later suggests otherwise, as Brown practiced throughout the week and is probable for Sunday's game.

Additionally, the Colts ruled out offensive linemen Jeff Linkenbach, Hugh Thornton, and Joe Reitz, as well as safety Sergio Brown and defensive linemen Ricky Jean Francois and Montori Hughes.  The fact that Thornton will miss this week ensures that the Colts will start their seventh different offensive line combination this Sunday and the fifth different lineup in as many weeks.  Linkenbach and Reitz both have started at times as well and very well might have if healthy.  But as it stands right now, the move to promote Austin was necessary because the offensive line depth right now is razor thin.  In fact, the Colts will only have two backup linemen on Sunday, and it's likely that both will be centers.

My guess is that Anthony Castonzo will start at left tackle, Xavier Nixon at left guard, Samson Satele at center, Mike McGlynn at right guard, and Gosder Cherilus at right tackle.  I really do believe that if everyone was healthy Mike McGlynn would likely start at center again, but with injuries it likely will move him back over to guard and put Satele - himself dealing with an injury that caused him to miss last week but this week be listed as probable - back at center.  Xavier Nixon filled in at right guard last week after starter Joe Reitz got injured early and he played well as the game went on.  If my guess at the line is correct, that would leave just Khaled Holmes and Thomas Austin as the backup linemen available, both of whom are backup centers.  Holmes has hardly played at all this year and Austin really hasn't played at all, just being called up from the practice squad the day before the game.

Basically, here's what I'm trying to say - the Colts offensive line isn't in great shape right now.  The main goal is getting healthy for the playoffs, but right now, it's not great, and it won't be tomorrow for the game against the Chiefs.  Three linemen are out, and the two that will be backups who have hardly played at all this season.  Injuries continue to hit this team hard, especially on the offensive side of the ball.  They absolutely need to get healthier for the playoffs - and that starts in two weeks.