The mystery surrounding who will start at quarterback for the Indianapolis Colts in Sunday's regular season finale just added another layer, as the team announced today that they have placed quarterback Charlie Whitehurst and guard Hugh Thornton on season-ending injured reserve.
Whitehurst injured his hamstring in Sunday's 18-12 win over the Dolphins as he was forced to play the entire second half due to injuries to Matt Hasselbeck. Late in the game, Whitehurst injured his hamstring and appeared to be walking gingerly as he was very upset about it. Head coach Chuck Pagano said after the game that Whitehurst would be further evaluated, and obviously it was a serious enough injury that will require him to miss the remainder of the season. He was claimed off of waivers by the Colts earlier this year after Andrew Luck was diagnosed with a lacerated kidney and partially torn abdominal muscle and has served as Matt Hasselbeck's backup for the past six games. He has seen action in each of the past four as Hasselbeck has dealt with injuries, completing 16 of 32 passes (50%) for 150 yards and an interception. In his NFL career, Whitehurst has played in 24 games (starting nine) and has completed 205 of 372 passes for 2,281 yards, 10 touchdowns, and 7 interceptions.
It was looking likely that Whitehurst would make his first start for the Colts this Sunday against the Tennessee Titans, but that obviously won't happen anymore. After the game yesterday, Matt Hasselbeck said that he doesn't think he will be able to play next Sunday (he is dealing with rib, back, jaw, and now shoulder injuries), leaving only Andrew Luck and Stephen Morris. Considering the fact that Luck is still recovering from his injuries and has not yet been cleared for 11-on-11 work in practice, it would appear likely that Morris is the next man up. Perhaps Luck will be able to play, but at this point we can't consider it likely until we know more.
Thornton started 12 games for the Colts this year at right guard, being inserted into the starting lineup following week two, when the Colts made massive changes. He played well and helped solidify the guard position, helping the unit play solid football for a stretch in the middle of the season. Though recently the line has been worse, Thornton has still been an upgrade over Lance Louis and Todd Herremans. Yesterday against the Dolphins, Thornton left early with an ankle injury and center Khaled Holmes filled in for him. Lance Louis was inactive on Sunday, however, so I would expect the Colts to look to him to replace Thornton in this Sunday's game.
The moves leave the Colts with two open roster spots, and I would expect at least one of them to be filled with a quarterback signing. According to Bleacher Report's Mike Freeman, Josh Freeman was visiting the Colts today, so he's a name to keep an eye on.