The Indianapolis Colts are preparing to face the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on Sunday, and one of the biggest things that they'll have to do is find a way to replace left tackle Anthony Castonzo.
Castonzo is expected to miss his first game since his rookie season in 2011 after suffering an MCL sprain on Sunday against the Falcons that has him diagnosed as "week-to-week" by the Colts. Without Castonzo, the Colts will have to replace their best and most consistent lineman at what is arguably the most important position up front.
After Castonzo was injured against Atlanta (it was late in the game), the Colts moved starting right tackle Joe Reitz to left tackle, starting left guard Jack Mewhort to right tackle (where he started earlier this year), and Lance Louis to left guard. That seemed like the most logical option for the team moving forward in Castonzo's absence, but head coach Chuck Pagano wouldn't commit to that lineup on Monday.
As the Colts returned to the practice field on Wednesday, signs indicate that the Colts might not go with that configuration but rather insert rookie Denzelle Good into the lineup at right tackle. That was what was evident during the portion of practice open to the media, at least:
Based off OL drills today, 7th-round pick Denzelle Good could very well be the starting RT on Sunday. Has been inactive for first 10 games.— Kevin Bowen (@KBowenColts) November 25, 2015
7th round pick Denzelle Good is getting some work at RT at practice in individual drills. Reitz to LT.— Steve Andress (@ColtsReporter) November 25, 2015
With Good in the lineup at right tackle, the Colts would have Joe Reitz at left tackle but then the rest of the line remaining the same, with Jack Mewhort at left guard, Jonotthan Harrison at center (at least right now), and Hugh Thornton at right guard.
This is a very interesting move that many have wondered about this week, and it sounds like it's something the Colts are at least strongly considering. Indy drafted Denzelle Good in the seventh round of this year's draft out of Mars Hill, and it became clear that general manager Ryan Grigson was a huge fan of Good and loved the pick. He played well in preseason after working with the second-team, and perhaps most impressively, he has been on the active roster this entire season. Granted, he hasn't been on the active gameday roster for any game yet, but when a team keeps a seventh round pick on the active roster all year without moving him up or down once, especially when he hasn't played, it should tell you a lot about what the team thinks about him. So it's clear that the Colts really like Denzelle Good, but we haven't been able to see him in a game yet outside of preseason action.
That could change this Sunday, as Good could very well find himself in the starting lineup (if not, he will very likely be active for the first time, at least). Part of this move might also be in order to leave Jack Mewhort at left guard. He did a fine job at right tackle earlier this year but is clearly most comfortable and at his best at left guard, and the Colts might want to play to those strengths rather than try to move him to right tackle. Furthermore, with Joe Reitz moving to left tackle, having someone like Mewhort playing next to him could help Reitz out as well. Reitz seems to be the clear and easy answer at left tackle, and the Colts worked him there in training camp likely for this very scenario - in case Castonzo went down, Reitz was the option the coaches liked the best to replace him.
It's never ideal to replace your starting left tackle, especially when it's someone like Anthony Castonzo (despite his struggles at times this year). The Colts will have to find a way to succeed without him, and as Joe Reitz slides to left tackle, it very well could be the rookie Denzelle Good entering the lineup at right tackle. We'll have to wait and see, but if practice today was any indication, that could be the lineup we see.