We already brought to you earlier this afternoon the fact that the Colts have ruled out offensive linemen Hugh Thornton and Joe Reitz for Sunday's game against the Texans. It was assumed that Khaled Holmes, who stepped in for the injured Reitz (who was starting for the injured Thornton) and played well doing so, would start on Sunday. Head coach Chuck Pagano wouldn't share who would start at right guard against the Texans, but it was just assumed by many that it would be Holmes.
But maybe not.
Our friend Phillip B. Wilson of Scout.com, who is reliable on Colts matters, has been told differently. He was on with Dan Dakich of 1070 the Fan earlier today, and the first thing that Dakich asked him was about who would be starting along the offensive line. "Do you really wanna know?" Phil B. asked, which of course Dakich answered with a yes. After a pause, Wilson said, "well... my understanding, and I can't tell you how I know but I know, is that [Jonotthan] Harrison will start at center, Lance Louis will be the right guard, and [Khaled] Holmes will back up Louis at guard." Dakich then followed up with a clarifying question that A.Q. Shipley would then back up Harrison at center. Phil B. offered a long "uhhhh" before dropping another nugget: that he's been told that Shipley will be inactive. Dakich was rightly shocked, and Phil B. also said that, "I can't tell you how I know, but a couple of us, two or three of us, know, and you know, it was a shock." Wilson added that, "I couldn't believe it when I heard it, and part of me thought it was just a lie and I thought, well we'll wait until Sunday to see. But all indications are that what I was told is gonna happen."
In case you didn't get that, here's what Phillip B. Wilson is saying is going to happen with the offensive line on Sunday: Jonotthan Harrison will start at center, Lance Louis will start at right guard, Khaled Holmes will be the backup right guard, and A.Q. Shipley will be inactive. If that's the case, then in addition to the starting five linemen, Khaled Holmes and Xavier Nixon would be the players active as backups. Again, we don't know for sure whether this will happen or not, but Phil B. is reliable.
If that's indeed the case, I'm not sure which one is stupider - to have A.Q. Shipley inactive or Lance Louis starting at right guard. Shipley has proven himself to be among the Colts' best five linemen, much less among their best seven. I understand match ups and all that, but Shipley deserves better than the Colts. Two years ago, he was their best center and was traded away that offseason for a late round draft pick. This year, he was again the Colts' best center and was benched after four games and now might be inactive.
As for Louis, well, he's been inactive for the past four games. He has started four games this season, including three at right guard and was the team's starter at the position for the first game against the Texans. There's really no way around this fact though: he's been bad this year. Bad enough that he has been inactive for the past four games. I understand that with a couple of linemen injured that he could be active, but even then, he doesn't have to start. A.Q. Shipley, Khaled Holmes, and even Xavier Nixon might be better options at right guard than Lance Louis. He's a solid guy to have around for depth purposes, but to start him above those other guys makes zero sense.
I always try to hold off on a lot of criticism on the coaches over things that are just reports, because I don't want to be overly critical when we're not even sure if it will happen yet. But Phil B. is reliable, and even the notion that the Colts might be starting Louis seems absurd but right in line with the Colts' coaching staff and management when it comes to handling the offensive line. They've shown no inclination towards putting the best five out there to protect Andrew Luck so far this season, so why would they start Sunday?
You can listen to Dan Dakich's full interview with Phillip B. Wilson here.