The Colts play on a short week on Thursday night against the Houston Texans, and because of that the injured guys for the Colts have less time to recover. With that in mind, the Colts have ruled four "starters" out for Thursday night's game. Starting left guard Jack Mewhort (ankle), starting right guard Hugh Thornton (back), "starting" nickel corner Darius Butler (ankle), and starting defensive end Arthur Jones (ankle) are all out Thursday night. In addition, starting inside linebacker Jerrell Freeman (hamstring) is questionable. Starting outside linebacker Bjoern Werner (ankle) is probable.
This will be the second straight week that Mewhort has missed, and this will be the second game of the last three (but not consecutive) that Hugh Thornton will miss. Two weeks ago Lance Louis filled in at right guard for Thornton and then last week Lance Louis filled in at left guard for Jack Mewhort. This week, however, both Mewhort and Thornton are out. Louis will likely start at left guard again this week, and then the question becomes who starts at right guard this week? Chuck Pagano said yesterday that both A.Q. Shipley and Joe Reitz are options. I think that Reitz is easily the best option of those two and is the most likely.
Darius Butler has been playing great football as the Colts nickel corner, and while he's not technically a starter he still sees a lot of snaps and plays a big role. He won't play against the Texans (which is, in all honestly, a good game for him to miss if he has to miss one), so Josh Gordy will step in and play as the nickel guy. Also look for Loucheiz Purifoy to perhaps get a few snaps this week as well.
Lastly, starting defensive lineman Arthur Jones will miss his fourth straight game while still recovering from a high ankle sprain. The good news is that after this game the Colts will have ten days before the next game, so hopefully Jones can recover for the game against the Cincinnati Bengals - but that's not certain either.
Jerrell Freeman played last week after missing three games and was a full participant in practice on Monday, but he was limited each of the past two days with a hamstring injury (which caused him to miss those three games) and he is questionable for Thursday. I'm not sure whether he will play, but I do know that the Colts are being cautious on this short week.
None of this is really unexpected, but the Colts will indeed be shorthanded this week for a big division game against the Texans. And J.J. Watt will now have two backup guards to go against.