The Indianapolis Colts could be without a number of key players for their key division matchup with the Jacksonville Jaguars this Sunday. Head coach Chuck Pagano this morning ruled quarterback Andrew Luck, left tackle Anthony Castonzo, and inside linebacker Jerrell Freeman OUT for Sunday's game. Outside linebacker Erik Walden is doubtful, while safety Colt Anderson, center Khaled Holmes, inside linebacker D'Qwell Jackson, and cornerback Greg Toler are questionable.
There will be several game-time decisions for the Colts, as those players who are doubtful or questionable leave the status of many of the players up in the air. Particularly on the defensive side of the football, the Colts might be really hurting for Sunday's game. Offensively, left tackle Anthony Castonzo and quarterback Andrew Luck are both out, both of which are big losses but which were expected and has been the case for the past few weeks. Defensively, inside linebacker Jerrell Freeman will miss his second straight game with a hamstring injury, while outside linebacker Erik Walden is doubtful with a foot injury that caused him to miss practice this entire week. The Colts' other inside linebacker, D'Qwell Jackson, is questionable with a quad injury. Cornerback Greg Toler is questionable with a knee injury. If none of those players are able to play, that would be four defensive starters missing this week's game, not to mention the fact that Henry Anderson is out for the year (that happened several weeks ago) as is the next man up at inside linebacker, Nate Irving (that happened this past week).
Chuck Pagano did sound a bit optimistic about D'Qwell Jackson, the team's leading tackler, playing this week, as according to Colts.com's Kevin Bowen, Pagano said today, "You know D'Qwell, I know D'Qwell, he's going to play... I've got all my chips on 52 playing." Jackson leads the entire NFL with 122 tackles this year and has been playing well, but he is especially crucial to the defense this week since the Colts will be without Freeman. If Jackson can't go, that would leave the Colts without their top three inside linebackers entering this game - that's not good. Already, the team has a decision to make about how to replace Freeman, as Sio Moore, Josh McNary, and Amarlo Herrera are all options.
If Greg Toler can't go, the Colts would opt to leave Darius Butler in the slot rather than start him on the outside, something they tried earlier this year to little success. Instead, Chuck Pagano said today that they would go with either D'Joun Smith (a rookie who spent the first half of the season on IR) or Jalil Brown (who the team re-signed this week). Neither are ideal options, but it's not a bad idea to leave Butler in the slot either.
Lastly, if Erik Walden can't play, the Colts would have a decision to make on who to replace him, as it would likely be Bjoern Werner - who has been inactive for the past several weeks. That's also not an ideal scenario, but it would give Werner one final chance to prove himself.
Offensively, Matt Hasselbeck will make his sixth start of the season (and fourth in a row), while the team will almost certainly roll with the same offensive line at the tackle spots, with Joe Reitz at left tackle and Denzelle Good at right tackle. They will get Hugh Thornton back, however, so he should slide back in at right guard.